“We are in love with the idea of change but not the practice of it.”
This world is not a perfect place, and we as individuals are far from perfect. So there is room, indeed great need for change. To be alive requires movement and growth, and we cannot grow if we will not change. But we are uncomfortable with change, and tend to see pressures to change as a problem, while the opposite should be more of a concern. Stagnation – from unwillingness or lack of vision for change, should be more troubling.
When we do decide that we will accept change, it is usually that our circumstances change, or that others change around us. We are most resistant to the change that is most needed: that change within our own heart and mind.
Interpersonal conflict provides the clearest revelation of where personal change is required. But one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome is the conviction that since I am right, I’m not the one that must change. Or, since I am right, I should not change. But being “right” and treating the other person rightly are two entirely different issues. In exercising his “rightness,” one will almost certainly trample the rights of another. “Being right,” like any other power, is not to be used to lord it over another, but must be exercised in humility to serve and uplift. And to do so will usually require an adjustment in my thoughts and attitudes.
We are commanded to repent. This is widely understand to mean that I regret my sins. While this is a part of repentance, it is far from the whole meaning of the concept. At its core, repentance means a change of mind: to change the way I think. We have been given the mind of Christ, but must learn how to think as He thinks. Changes must occur in my heart and mind that only God can make, but they require my active participation.
Jesus said: “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NASB) This abundant living is not a place we can arrive at, but a process we live in – a process that requires constant change. We should be able to look back on the previous year and see significant qualitative changes in the way we see and relate to God and to others.
The things that need most to be faced and changed are the most difficult because they are rooted in the deepest part of our identity. Consequently, real, lasting change will not happen until we are desperate for it – until we reach the point of deep dissatisfaction with the status quo. This must be combined with the willingness to take full responsibility for my part, because regardless of how much may be the fault of another person or circumstance, I am the only one I can change. Gandhi had it right when he said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
A cottonwood tree in southwest Austin, intentionally blurred by panning the camera with a slow shutter.