Environment can be defined as being “the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant, lives or operates.” (Oxford Dictionary)
Fortunately for us, we are able to choose the kind of environment we are going to be in. Of course, we don’t have control over every challenge life throws at us, but we get to decide how we will spend our time, who we will spend our time with, where we will let our minds wander, the voices we are going to listen to, and the truth we are going to believe. Daily we have dozens of choices we get to make, yet sometimes one bad thing happens, and it is easy to immediately feel like life is out of control. This can lead to deep discouragement and apathy; it can lead to feelings of failure, hopelessness, and passivity. That’s why we must remember that our environment is not controlled by one tragic event. Rather, it is made up of a series of choices - intentional or not - that we have cultivated into an environment over time.
The beautiful thing about the unexpected in life is that our environment is put to the test in those moments. Something happening to me doesn’t change the environment I am in unless I give it permission to.
Are you allowing outside circumstances to dictate the environment you live in? Are you allowing negativity to creep in?
There are three questions that Mike challenged us to ask ourselves in our weekly Leadershift call this morning:
Am I growing in the right soil?
Am I breathing in the right air?
Am I living in the right climate?
In order to answer these questions, we need to take a look at what soil, air, and climate are in correlation to the environment of our lives. This could be interpreted differently by each person, but this is how I understand it:
The soil in my life is where my roots are. It’s where I am planted firmly. It provides the nutrition I need to keep growing. So, soil in my life looks like my relationships. Am I surrounding myself with people who are helping my roots grow, people who help water me? Am I involved in a church, am I walking closely with the Lord? Am I honoring my husband and valuing his feedback? Are my friendships fruitful? Relationships - both with others and with the Lord - cultivate the type of soil I abide in, and they helps determine how deep my roots will grow.
The air that I am breathing is what I bring into my life daily. An easy way to gauge whether we are breathing in clean air or not is to observe what we exhale. When negativity and anger come out, that’s a clue that something isn’t quite right. What we fill our minds with can either pollute or purify. Am I reading books that are backed by truth, or just the hottest book on the shelf? Am I binge watching a show that is dark and filled with lies, death, and misconduct? Am I listening to music that objectifies others and screams vulgarity? What I allow to enter my mind will absolutely make it’s way into my heart and have an impact on the environment I am living in. How clean is the air you are breathing?
Lastly, is my climate (or my temperament) shaky? Is it always changing with no certainty, or is there a steadiness to it? As Oxford Dictionary defines it, climate is “the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.” Am I known to have a joyous and cheerful temperament? Am I a reliable person people know they can trust, or is it always a guessing game to others when they approach me? It is a choice to put on love, patience, gentleness, and peace. It is a choice to be responsible and honest even when it’s not the easy or comfortable option. For me, it is easy to get caught up in an experience that happened to me or react to an emotion I’m experiencing and then let that affect the rest of my day - and even take it out on my husband at times. I have to act against that temptation and choose to keep my climate joyous and gentle.
Soil. Air. Climate.
These are all things we have the power to change. Our life isn’t just a series of things that “happen to us.” Rather, life is made up of the people we surround ourselves with, the entertainment we engage in, and the way we choose to respond to others and operate on a day to day basis.
We get to create the environment we live in. Back in March 2021, I received a health diagnosis that required that I changed how I lived my life. The diagnosis was disheartening, but instead of letting that define my environment and consume the way I lived my life, I got up and started making the necessary changes. Months later as I was taking an evening walk with my husband; we were listing things we were thankful for and gratitude for my health diagnosis rolled off my tongue. Because of the lifestyle change I had to make, my husband and I have grown so much closer to each other and are in a better place in our marriage because of our decision to trust God through the discouragement. I could have chosen to let one thing rot away at my environment and slowly impact the soil, air, and climate I was living in, but since I chose to use this health challenge as a stepping stone, my roots were getting deeper, and I was seeing positive growth in my life.
I think Mike said it best on our Leadershift call today:
“You need an environment where others are ahead of you, an environment where you are continually being challenged and where your focus is forward, an environment where the atmosphere is affirming and where you’re out of your comfort zone.”
How are you watering and weeding your environment today? It requires upkeep and attention. A healthy, thriving environment won’t just happen naturally. Give it the attention it needs and get weeding!
So here’s to growth. Our Growth.