Next week my discipleship group is over. No more meetings at 7:30 am. No more feeling “Naked and Afraid.” The group has been like no other Bible study, discipleship course or curriculum I’ve experienced and I’ve learned, grown and changed. How?
I’ve learned to make new tracks.

A few weeks ago, I took our Chinese student sledding. He was excited but nervous since he’d never gone before. After a few successful rides Joe had a pretty good wipe out, so we headed to the kiddie hill. After Joe climbed up the short embankment, I realized just how foreign sledding was to him. Instead of sledding down one of the many existing paths, Joe went down an untouched part of the “hill.” He went down on his stomach, veryslowly, gradually amassing a large pile of snow on his neck and chin.

When he went back up the hill I told him to go down the track he’d just made. This time it was easier and more fun. Eventually, Joe was sailing down the new track he made, unimpeded and with great joy. 

Our discipleship group facilitator commented recently about the science of renewing our minds. She talked about how things we do, think and say repeatedly form literal tracks in our brain. Those tracks become our default; the part of the “hill” we always go down because it’s familiar, easy and habitual. Making new tracks, thinking and responding differently, is uncomfortable. It’s slow, boring and takes effort. 

However, just like the joy Joe experienced after making his own new tracks, there is much joy in thinking, acting and speaking differently. There is freedom in listening to what God says rather than riding down my familiar tracks of self-deprecation. I’m finding purpose in learning to hear God’s voice in a loving way, rather than the voice of shame and anger I used to mistakenly hear Him. I’m experiencing less regret in making new tracks, too. Tracks that are helping me quit looking back, gravitating to fear and tracks that are helping me feel and live out of God’s real, tangible and visible love more often.

When Joe wiped out on the big hill, he lost his glasses. He was looking all over trying to find them, but it’s hard to see when you can’t see. I ran/slipped down the hill and told Joe to make sure no one took me out while I looked for his glasses. We can’t find our glasses or make new tracks alone. We need each other. I was reminded of that often in the past year. People are difficult (like the lady who told me while I was running to help Joe, “you shouldn’t wear glasses sledding.” Thank you. Super helpful right now (eye-roll emoji)). I’m difficult. Life is difficult. But part of being a disciple and being discipled is the reality that people are the point of the cross: me, you and annoying sled lady.

How do you grow as a disciple?

Go sledding with some friends.