“a key to a vital life is an eagerness to learn and a willingness to change.” M.A. Radmacher
Change. I suppose that word has many different meanings. You can pay for something at the store using dollar bills and receive coins back as change for the difference. You can change from one outfit into another. If you are in a place of authority, you can promise to make a change in policies that may or may not result in a different outcome for the people you represent.
Change is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. But a different type of change: the transformation of self. For me this comes from knowing Christ and being transformed into his image. I’ve been reading various books of the New Testament, and there it is over and over again! As I read the gospels, I see people whose lives are changed as they come to know Jesus. As I read Paul’s letters I am reminded that it is a continual process. The more time we spend in His presence, the more we learn and grow and change. Both our behavior and our thought processes change. I believe the fancy word for it is sanctification, but I like to keep it simple.
I feel like I go through phases of change. The first was last year, and it was big enough for my whole worldview to be transformed. It was as if the pieces of a giant puzzle had finally come together, after being stumped for 23 years. It’s that childlike mindset we are called to: having the open heart and the open mind to discover knowledge we’ve never before grasped. It’s the most amazing thing in the world! And it saddens me that some people don’t ever get to experience it. They have no desire for change. Don’t get me wrong, I can be very stubborn about certain things (like going down every aisle in the grocery store!) and feel a slight panic attack coming on at the thought of changing certain things. But there are some things that cannot happen without change. Like growth. And when it comes to growing in our understanding of God and how to interact with the people around us, we can’t afford to remain blind and stagnant.
Where I struggle with this is when it comes to wanting other people to change. I’m sure we’re all aware of how easy it is to point out flaws in others, while ignoring our own. As I come to understand human nature and interpersonal relationships, it becomes easier for me to see areas of potential growth in other people’s lives. The problem is you can’t just point it out to them. I’ve done that and it rarely goes well. I’ve even had the urge to grab a few people by the collar and say, “your problem is XX! Your whole life would be a lot easier if you would just XX!!” Thankfully I have never tried that approach, because I am 99% sure it would fail miserably. What I have come to learn is that no matter how hard I try, I cannot change anyone. Only God can do that. So the best thing for me to do is to pray for them. Pray for an open heart so God can show them whatever it is they need in order to begin that transformative work in their lives.
And with that I would like to thank all of the people who have prayed that for me over the years. I am sure it has been a long, frustrating journey for you, as you sought my best interests and had to watch me walk down the wrong path. But I am so thankful for the change God has brought to my life and the new things he teaches me everyday! I urge you to keep praying, because the process never ends, and I am more and more excited each day to grow in my knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ!
**The picture is of the “Safeway Real Change Man”…a U District icon who asks customers if they would like to use their change to buy a copy of the “Real Change” Newspaper, an initiative started to help transform lives of Seattle’s homeless.