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Pointers along the way #151

Learn, change, learn
- Jacob Ninan

There can be no significant progress in any area except through change. Yet it may be true that one thing that blocks our progress is our unwillingness to change. Certainly we would like others to change, especially in their dealings with us, and we would also like our circumstances to be different. But how about us changing - in the way we think, speak, behave, react and respond? It looks as if this thought doesn't even occur to many people.

God wants us to grow and become mature (Mt.5:48). When we grow and become stronger in our relationship with Him, we also become able to deal with ourselves, others and our circumstances in an increasingly better way. We know this needs a lifelong commitment to this goal and a relentless seeking after God, because there is so much in us that needs to be changed or transformed.

Yes, the others need to change too, and it would become more comfortable for us if they do. Our circumstances could be much better too, to put things mildly. We can, and we need to, do our part in contributing towards this. But surely there are limits to how much we can do, because the others don't want to be changed (they are just waiting to change us!), and circumstances are not all that easy to change because there are many other people who are involved in them. Many of us think that if only we could change just this one - whether it is a spouse, job, house, locality, looks, etc. - we would be happy. How many people become frustrated waiting for this miracle to happen! Waiting like this, we miss the thing we can do to make ourselves happier. That is to change ourselves, our attitudes, approach, responses, etc., in order to deal with ourselves, others and our circumstances better.

A growing life is one where we learn, change and continue learning. The more we resist change, either because we can't see that we need to change or because it takes effort to change, we not only hinder our own progress, but also makes things worse for ourselves. Consider marriage where both spouses need to accept the other and make many adjustments to live together. If either of them refuses to make changes we can imagine how problems will multiply.

When there are things outside of us that we can't change, we may give in to frustration, complaints, grumbling, backbiting, sulking, fuming, etc., and make ourselves miserable as a result. But once we recognise that we can't change the situation, isn't it much better for us if we can find ways to make our happiness in spite of the situation? How can we do this? By thinking about what good God is going to bring out of this (Ro.8:28). Even if we are unable to figure this out, we can continue to hold on in faith, like Abraham did (Ro.4:18,20). This will bring about a change of attitude, and ultimately it may even change our situation. Even if the situation does not change, at least we shall come out of it as better people.