Posts Tagged ‘change’

We Limit Ourselves

May 6, 2015

A TV series that ran in the late 1960s followed the travails of a baffled man who found himself in a village. It was a happy place. Everyone was smiling. Everything was clean and neat. It did not seem sinister, at least on the surface. Perhaps a little like that city Disney built outside Orlando where every thing must be the same. Nice and neat and clean. And everyone is happy all the time.

The man felt trapped even though very well cared for. There was no way out.

The man was in constant pursuit of Number Two. This person would be the gateway to discovering Number One—the true overseer of the captivity.

Gene Appel, pastor at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim, CA, pointed out something that resonated at a deep level. “Your past mistakes limit your future options.”

You’re a guy with a group of guys. Just hanging out. After midnight. Do I need to state that nothing good happens when there is a group of guys hanging out after midnight.

Someone has a brilliant (well so you thought) idea. The net result is that the whole group is busted. Arrested. Jailed. Tried. Even if it’s a misdemeanor, it’s on the record.

Now you want a job that requires security clearance. Oops.

Or, you’re a girl or young woman. All the other girls have guys. They all talk about the great sex they are having (or so they say). You’re guy applies a little pressure, and…now you’re pregnant. Yep, your future is now limited.

Our choices may not be that extreme, but they do limit future options—sometimes that’s good. Sometimes it’s bad.

When we are limiting ourselves, we had best do so intentionally. Stop and think about the future consequences of our choices.

Oh, and the man in the village? During the last episode he gains a meeting with Number Two. An empty chair is in the room reserved for Number One.

Number Two of course tells the man to have a seat. He’s been Number One the entire time. He has imprisoned himself!

What about you and me? Have we let our mistakes and poor choices imprison us? Time to break free.

Pattern Recognition for Growth and Success

September 3, 2014

Our brains are excellent at pattern recognition. Except, that is, when we’re looking at the patterns of our own lives.

The premise of Henry Cloud’s latest book, “Never Go Back”, is that successful people come to a point where they see a pattern in their lives that is not working out. When they see that pattern “they go through a door and never go back.”

Or, to state the inverse, Proverbs contains a statement, “A fool returns to his folly.”

It seems like every time I’m in some sort of transition period, Cloud releases a new book that speaks directly to my condition.

It was four years ago this week when I found myself in the hospital for the first time since I was born with a painfully torn quadriceps muscle.

That event seemed to be the start of some necessary transformations, and Cloud released “Necessary Endings” which spoke directly to the situation. I needed to find a end game and start something new.

But then I repeated a pattern by getting drawn into another dysfunctional business relationship. Andy Stanley recently talked about decision-making–if you feel a tension stop and reflect. I felt the tension, but I didn’t stop. That was a pattern repeating. It had happened several times before.

I’ve gone through that door, hopefully to never return.

Sometimes the pattern is breaking a habit–more properly stated as replacing a dysfunctional habit with a new, healthier one.

There is a spiritual pattern we can fall into where we sort of “lose” the spirit. We can leave that situation through intentional spiritual practices–reading the Bible, prayer, join a small study group.

Others we break when we realize the dysfunction and never go back.

Changing Others

July 23, 2014

When was the last time you tried to change someone? How did it go for you?

Leo Babauta doesn’t write as often at his blog as he did a few years ago, but he recently posed that question at Zen Habits.

He proceeded to discuss ways that you can change rather than getting that other person to change.

You can change your attitude toward them. Become more forgiving, perhaps. Recognizing that you, yourself, do not change easily (when was the last time you tried to change your eating habits in an attempt to lose weight?).

You can change your intention for them. Stop trying to remake them in your mind.

But then I thought, “I write from an evangelical Christian point of view. We believe we can change people.”

It’s not simply “bringing Jesus into your life.” How many people do you know that have an addictive personality? They became Christian and switched their addiction to Jesus? It’s a far better addiction, but they still haven’t truly lived into the peace and joy of a life fully lived in Jesus.

But many of us truly have changed. But we did it not so much through urging of others (although that may have prodded a few of us), but maybe more through the example of others.

As we changed our focus and attitude, we began to live more in prayer and study. We slowed down our inner processes a little. Began to recognize others–their needs, desires.

I’ve not only seen that happen, I’ve experienced it.

But it didn’t come because someone else tried to change me by force of will. I just lived into an example. How Jesus lived, and how some of his followers lived that I thought was pretty cool.

So, check out Leo’s list. But then look at how two of his ideas for accepting the other’s problems actually, over time, can help them grow. Not reflecting back to them their bad habits (say, anger) and providing an example of a better way to live.

Expecting People to Change Before We Befriend Them

March 4, 2014

Do you expect people to change before you will associate with them? People often think that their husband/wife will change after marriage, but people in church often (usually?) say, “Change, and then you can join us.”

John (the disciple, apostle, writer of the Gospel) is an excellent writer. To call him “uneducated” is a slander. He just didn’t attend the “right school.” He packs so much into a story that we give it a disservice by reading it quickly.

The story about the man healed by the Pool of Bethesda that I discussed yesterday is such a story. The point of the story was to show that Jesus was the Son of God. The subpoint was that the Jewish religious establishment hated him and wanted to kill him.

Why such animosity? Because Jesus threatened their very way of life. He threatened their superiority. They had set themselves aside with the vocation of being good. The studied scriptures and laws all day and followed every law. They were good.

And, they said that if you’ll change and be good, then maybe you can be one of us.

Jesus said to people, follow me and then you’ll change.

Jesus told the man to get up, pick up his mat, go and sin no more.

Oops, that violated a law. It was the Sabbath. The Lord said, don’t work on the Sabbath. The lawyers had to define work. One of the many detailed what you could carry before it was considered work. This man violated that rule.

Do we react to people we meet in the way of the Pharisees? Instead of rejoicing, we look for reasons to disapprove. We tell people that if they become like us, then they can be our friends–maybe, instead of welcoming other people and leading them to a life in the Spirit.