I’ve been thinking about change a lot lately. I’ve even tried to write about it, but my blogs get horrendously long and rambly…and impossible to edit!
Tonite we’ll be having a good-bye party for a young family in our church who are moving away. Once their house sells, the parents of the wife will be moving too (something I don’t even want to think about right now). Over nearly 65 years, I’ve made MANY changes. Some involved moves, some didn’t. Some of the most difficult ones involved attitude changes. Many of them were good-byes, temporary and permanent. Change comes in all shapes and sizes…and degrees of intensity!
When I was a young adult, I loved change…as long as our young family was together. I easily noticed how many things around me needed to change!
“Why won’t they change?” “If they would stop/start ____, then everything would be fine!”
Then I learned something that profoundly affected me and my relationships with people. It was this: You can’t change other people. You can only change yourself! To say that I was resistant to that concept is an understatement. When my husband first told me that one, I tried to argue it for awhile. It never rattled him. (When he is on the side of truth, he really doesn’t care whether people agree with him or not. He knows that Truth will win out.) Gradually I realized how true that statement was and it was very liberating!
MANIPULATION IS EXHAUSTING!
Although I wasn’t the smoothest manipulator I know, I wasn’t bad at it. That was all I had known. When I knew something needed to be done, that was the most common way I used to get it done. It was exhausting and stressful! Learning to be direct with people, to ask for what I actually wanted? That took a long time to learn!
ONE PERSON’S CHANGE CAN ALTER A RELATIONSHIP
Have you ever noticed that once you change the way you respond in certain relationships, that the relationship takes a new turn? The other person didn’t change at all, you did. I especially remember this in relation to some issues with my mother. I felt there were times when she didn’t treat me like I was an adult…or at least a competent one! When I applied this concept to our relationship (with some help from my husband) I realized that I often responded to some of the things she said or did as I did when I was a child.
Either I would respond as someone who wanted her approval (and would wimp out on giving a straight answer/opinion) or I would react quickly with anger to something I didn’t like because of hidden grudges from past events that had never been cleared away.
Once I started relating to her as an adult who wasn’t trying to earn her love (an impossibility!) or reacting to her because of hidden grudges from the past, I was surprised how her responses to me changed. Of course, I had to REPENT of the sin in my heart toward her and behave toward her in a way that didn’t allow for the grudges to build up. (Being lovingly honest.) Learning to relate toward her honestly and openly (meaning being honest in my responses but not having to tell ALL the “truth”–being wise in my speech without stuffing all my feelings) was difficult but it became the path toward some great conversations as she became older and weaker. It gave me opportunities to encourage her in ways I never would have if we had continued the old “relationship”.
CHANGE/GROWTH IS NOT A PAINLESS PROCESS
Did this path go smoothly? I can guarantee that it didn’t. Growth is rarely painless. I’m just not that good with relationships. I wish I were, but I’m more human and frail at these things than most. I need the grace of God. Often that is what God uses to push me toward Him because I need Him desperately. It is very easy for me to go my own independent way. Relationship difficulties that come along force me to Christ! That is a good thing.
This is a big topic. We will talk more about other aspects of change another day. I will leave you with two reminders from scripture that have always encouraged me. Please share with us any that have helped you.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.