Spiral of Growth

Joy Cowley Jesus

Sometimes we see life on earth as teetering between consistency and chaos; and yet really, the teachings of life are about neither.

They’re about contradictions.

We recognize this as paradox; but we don’t always see the tension between opposing states as being necessary for our spiritual development.

I guess I’m trying to say that in God’s unfailing love, our darkness will serve the light.

It’s all about the growth of the soul.

People who describe soul growth as a spiral are probably right. It seems to me that we go through the journey again and again but each time at a different level.

These days there is much talk about “awareness” and “mindfulness,” while Jesus talked about being ‘awake’.

I like that last description. It describes a stirring from sleep –  the first step of the growth process.

Awakening happens when experience takes us to knowledge of a greater reality.

I recognize I go through five stages in the process.


The first Awakening stage is designed to take me to a larger place.

Usually, it comes as some kind of seismic shift in life. It can be big or small, wanted or unwanted, pleasant or harsh, but always, beyond the immediate effect, there is a sensation of some kind of newness.

Something profound is happening. I’m being called to a larger place.


Because this awakening takes me beyond my small comfort zone, there will come the second stage which is Resistance. This is my me-first instinct telling me to be safe and not take risks.  I guess that’s the job of the ego which is directly plugged into survival. It’s supposed to protect me, so it tries to pull me back to my old state.

When I take these movements into prayer with Jesus, the resistance will have a heavy dull feeling while the awakening experience will feel positive.

Acceptance and Affirmation

So eventually I come to the third stage, which is Acceptance.  Once I have moved to acceptance, I’ll get Affirmation. Affirmation usually comes several times and in ways that can astonish me.  It seems that Jesus is sending me loving messages to support a new stage of growth.


That heralds the fifth stage of Freedom and the kind of peace that Jesus talked about. It really does pass all previous understanding of what peace is.

So ends the journey I call a soul story. But it’s not a full stop kind of ending, just a comma or semi-colon finish, because another soul story will begin.

I’ll have to go through these five stages again but at a different level.

On paper it all sounds simple, but I find stage two resistance, can get emotionally messy because it involves sacrifice and that me-first voice of ego doesn’t do sacrifice.

A lot of time needs to go into prayer.

Prayer is made easy in the company of Jesus who made the journey before us, and is with us all the way.

Growth is indeed about paradox.

And the way of contradiction is the way of the Cross.

It brings strength out of weakness, fullness out of emptiness, light out of darkness, love out of hate, life out of death.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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