FOUR STAGES OF GROWTH
By Vince DiPasquale
Every experience in life goes through four stages. Fantasy, reality, adjustment and acceptance. Let’s take time during this special month as we celebrate our nation’s birthday and look at these four stages of growth.
Fantasy or newness – whenever we begin a new experience, job, relationship, new stage of life, there is an excitement to it. A good example of this is the birth of a child. This is the fantasy of something new. All relationships – both relationships with self and those with others go through this fantasy stage. Remember our early years, when we thought we had all of the answers and looked at everything through rose colored glasses. Don’t get me wrong, fantasy is wonderful for a period of time, but we can’t stay there forever. All honeymoons lead to reality.
Reality is when we have to look at life in its humanness. All of us have to face those two scary, yet beautiful words: reality and responsibility. Everything in life moves back into the daily everyday work and struggle of facing the responsibilities of life. The newness wears off and we begin to take off the rose colored glasses and face life on its own terms. Growth and freedom involve hard work and — at times — tough decisions. Even in relationships we begin to see ourselves and others clearly – realizing it’s not as simple as we thought. Facing the reality of everyday living involves struggles, humility and openness — realizing at times that there are no answers, just questions. It takes faith and trust in something greater than yourself. Also, as we experience so many things in life, we need to be able to ask for help and guidance. Reality gets us ready for the next step of the journey — Adjustment.
Adjustment is a simple process that allows us to go with the flow. One of the hardest parts of adjustment is learning how to let go of control and learn how to adjust to life. We are taught, in this stage, that we are powerless over so much of life. Everything is always changing, nothing stays the same, and we are always in the process of change — physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Isn’t life a wonderful adventure? That we need to adjust to each day. Look at the periods of adjustment as God’s way of helping us through life with its joys and struggle. Every loss is an adjustment. If we are open to change — in time — we will come to acceptance.
Acceptance is one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of life. To come to a place of peace and serenity. The ultimate journey of life is to be able to come to a sense of inner peace, even with our scars and the scars of others. Acceptance is when you are able to begin to live each day in the words that were taught to us a long time ago. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Acceptance is the ability to face all parts of life with an attitude of gratitude, humility, openness and the willingness to change and grow.
Let’s apply these four special stages of growth to all aspects of life. As we celebrate a month of freedom with parties and fireworks, remember all the special people who fought to give us the opportunity to celebrate. The fireworks, the parties are the fantasy. The struggle and hard work, and even those who gave the ultimate sacrifice are our reality. Being open to change and new beginnings is the adjustment stage. Finally, acceptance of the past so we can learn from it, to live in the reality of the present allows us to be open to what truth the future may bring.
Have a peaceful and grateful month of July and be thankful for the gift of our freedom. We are all God’s children on a journey that will lead us back to our creator.
Sending prayers and love to all!