Seed of Change: Pathways to Personal and Spiritual Growth

Embarking on a transformation journey begins with the “Seed of Change.” This blog explores how embracing shifts in our lives, inspired by faith and Jesus’ teachings, can lead to profound personal and spiritual growth, guiding us through darkness into the light of new beginnings.

The image for the blog "Seed of Change" and is a square graphic primarily in shades of green and purple, with a creative typographical design. The left side has a vertical purple strip with the acronym "PBPGINFWMY" in green capital letters aligned vertically. To the right, the expanded meaning of the acronym is laid out in large, bold, green capital letters against a white background. The text reads "PLEASE BE PATIENT, GOD ISN’T FINISHED WITH ME YET." At the bottom of the image, in smaller blue text, is the phrase "COUNCIL FOR RELATIONSHIPS." The overall design appears to be motivational or inspirational in nature, possibly related to personal growth or spiritual development.

Infographic by Council for Relationships

The Seed of Change: Understanding Personal Growth

When I was a teen, I had a white lapel button about the size of a nickel with the blue letters PBPGIFWMY imprinted. I would wear the pin, and someone squinting as they looked at it, trying to make sense of the letters, would ask, “What does that mean?” I would answer, “Please be patient; God isn’t finished with me yet,” as a hopeful and true saying that reminded me and the person asking that we are people in the process.

Please be patient with me because I am still trying to figure things out like you.

The Development of the Seed: Patience in Personal Growth

Thinking now about that pin, I realize that the pin’s messaging has helped shape me, my theology, and my understanding of humanity and how we grow, change, and become the people God calls us to be. Those nine letters truly underscored my work as a pastor and therapist all these years.

Navigating the Process of Change with Faith

The memory of the pin – came to the forefront of my mind as I read John 12:20-33. This passage is rich and sets the scene for Christians to remember the actions of Jesus as they watch and wait with the Lord remembering the events of Holy Week. The gospel writer tells us the last week of Jesus’ life was the Jewish Passover, and many people were in Jerusalem for the feast. Some “Greeks,” probably Hellenistic or Greek-speaking Jews, were in town with a request to “see Jesus.”

Even a visitor to the city soon heard about Jesus, his teachings, his miracles, the healing stories, and even the raising of a dead man, Lazarus, back to life. Everyone was discussing the man who had been dead for four days, being resuscitated and brought back to life. The name of Jesus was on the lips of the common people and the religious leaders alike. Everyone was discussing this itinerant rabbi, Jesus!

For the Gospel writer, making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Passover and not seeing Jesus would be like going to New York City and not seeing the Statue of Liberty.

When Jesus hears the request of these Greek-speaking Jews, he speaks of himself in the third person, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Upon hearing those words, I tend to believe that these Greeks thought Jesus would have a coronation with the placement of a crown on his head and be made king. After all, he was so immensely popular; his name was on the lips of children, the common everyday people, and the ruling religious authorities. Could he actually be the Messiah? This was what many were wondering.

But Jesus quickly clarified the comment about his glorification and added,

“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”

From Darkness to Eternal Life: The Role of Jesus’ Life in Our Transformation

Jesus highlights and identifies with the natural process of planting seeds in his agricultural community and expecting a crop within time.

That single seed could yield enough to feed a village. The seed’s purpose is to change its function. The seed cannot and does not remain the hard, dry pod when placed in the ground with the proper growth conditions, namely soil nutrients, water, and oxygen. The seed, in effect, dies to what it was to become something new.

The new that emerges is different from the seed that was planted. Roots emerge to receive nutrients from the soil, followed by a shoot that grows towards the light as it develops a stem and leaves.

What we must respect about planting seeds is that we must be patient while waiting to see the tiny shoot emerge from the soil. We can’t keep probing and checking on the seed’s development, as doing so would interfere with growth and may even kill the young plant.

Rather, we must trust the process, watch, and wait for the young plant to develop and emerge. Seed planting is a PBPGIFWMY phenomenon.

And so is the growth, the change in our lives. Be it chronological, waiting to be old enough to drive, vote, drink, graduate, or whatever, we must wait patiently until the right moment. Just another PBPGIFWMY phenomenon.

The image is a square graphic with a central theme of personal growth and introspection, titled "SEED OF CHANGE" in stylized, wavy blue lettering against a textured background that mimics a painted canvas, also in shades of blue. Below the title, there are three speech bubbles in different shades of green with white text, each containing a question.The first speech bubble asks, "Struggling with things happening in some vulnerability cycle?" and features a question mark. The second speech bubble contains a self-reflective prompt: "Is this a PBPGINFWMY moment where you need to practice patience, gratitude, kindness, and thanksgiving that God, the Holy Spirit, is with you, giving you all you need to be the seed that dies in the ground for new life to emerge?" The third speech bubble queries, "Is this a time that you need a trusted and trained therapist to walk with you for a time to help you nourish the seed of change in your life?" At the bottom, in smaller blue text, the graphic reads "COUNCIL FOR RELATIONSHIPS" and cites "Source: Rev. Dr. Dolores Littleton." The overall image combines a visually calming color palette with questions designed to prompt reflection on one's personal development and the need for support or guidance.

Infographic by Council for Relationships

The Will of God in Our Lives: Accepting and Trusting the Journey

Jesus had a keen sense of time that often seemed to challenge others.  For example, early in His ministry, his mother, Mary, requested that Jesus perform a miracle at a wedding. Jesus responded by saying, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4), so we sometimes wonder if this was just a chronological thing or if Jesus was sensing something else.

I believe that when Jesus says, My hour has not yet come, it indicates that He was working on God’s schedule and managing the pace at which people would come to understand the reality of who He was.

However, the change we desire sometimes concerns how we think or feel about things. Sometimes, we have become stuck in patterns that no longer serve us well. We are stuck in old realities that need to be examined and challenged so that we can live in the now.

I am thinking of a young woman who grew up in a verbally and emotionally abusive home as a child and learned to disassociate by getting lost in her books or by doing some other solo activity.  Now, as an adult, she realized that pattern was no longer serving her and that escaping and disconnecting from difficult conversations was no longer working for her and was actually causing trouble for her with her colleagues. She needed to try new behaviors and ways of coping.

Yes, this is most definitely a PBPGIFWMY phenomenon!

The latter is what folks work for in therapy. It may take months and even years to complete the process of change, letting go of the old scripts, roles, and functions that no longer serve us and may, in fact, harm ourselves and the people we love. Often, this good change comes only with much angst, depression, and struggle. It isn’t easy to let go of who we were and become who we are today.

The Gospel writer John recognizes this and shows us a deeply human Jesus endeavoring to accept God’s will for his life and live into the change he wants to see. Jesus’ response reveals that he is in a dark place at this moment; his soul is troubled, or we might even say that he is depressed.

The word that the Gospel writer used to describe was tetaraktai, often translated as agitated, confused, or disturbed.  Jesus intellectually knows that he must die so that all that separates humanity from God can be repaired and restored.  But knowing it and doing it are two diametric things.

Folks often come into therapy wanting to think about and discuss some change in their lives—and often, there is much anxiety and uncertainty about trusting the process of growth.

Finding Light in Dark Places: The Therapeutic Journey

Christians believe that Jesus was God but that he was also fully human and experienced all the feelings, temptations, fears, and anxieties that humanity experiences.

A professor in my clinical training once said, “A therapist’s job is to help people plant and nourish seeds.” At the time, this imagery resonated with me and made perfect sense because of my PBPGIFWMY understanding of life. Then a supervisor told me that sometimes events and situations happen in one’s life repeatedly as the Holy Spirit’s way of getting our attention so that we may finally address the issue.

During this holy season of self-examination and reflection, I am almost certain that you will recall moments when you have felt darkness in your soul or wondered why the same issue seems to repeat itself repeatedly. Is there something Jesus the Great Physician (therapist) can show us when our souls are troubled?

When you are troubled – or feel like you are struggling with things happening in some vulnerability cycle – it may be beneficial to turn your attention to the Lord and seek His direction. Ask yourself the following questions,

  • Is this a PBPGIFWMY moment where you need to practice patience, gratitude, kindness, and thanksgiving that God, the Holy Spirit, is with you, giving you all you need to be the seed that dies in the ground for new life to emerge?
  • Is this a time that you need a trusted and trained therapist to walk with you for a time to help you nourish the seed of change in your life?

At Council for Relationships, we have therapists who are people of diverse faith traditions who can help shine a light when you are in your dark hours when your soul is troubled, and when you’re wrestling and struggling with various issues.

You’re not alone in your depression. You’re not alone if you have a troubled soul. Jesus knows what that’s like, but in his dark hour, Jesus had questions.

That is good news because it teaches me that I can have questions and doubts in my dark hours. I can even question whether I should abandon my plans and hopes for the future. As Jesus made his way to the cross, he had some existential questions on his mind and heart, like, “Should I ask God to ‘Get Me Out’ of this dark hour?”

Because of his death and Resurrection, we know that Jesus resolved to continue his self-giving, loving mission.

Lord, I pray especially for anyone in a dark place going through something difficult. I pray that God’s light would break into the darkness and that the Lord would reveal Himself, assuring them that they are not alone.



Rev. Dr. Dolores Littleton, LMFT

About Rev. Dr. Dolores (Dee) Littleton

Dolores Littleton, DMin, LMFT, is the Director of CFR’s Postgraduate Certificate Program’s Clergy Track. The program enriches the skills of priests, rabbis, imams, and clergy who provide spiritual guidance and support within congregations and communities. Click here to learn about CFR’s Postgraduate Certificate Program for Clergy members. 

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