When I want to change but (I think) I don’t know how
For some time I’ve been acutely aware that I am imperfect!
(I’m sure some of you are celebrating that I’ve finally seen the light!! hehe)
And in many ways this revelation is something to celebrate – knowing you are not perfect and accepting that is fundamental to maturity. Certainly for Christians. Becoming a Christian in the first place is the realisation that the way I am living my life away from the God who lovingly created me isn’t good and needs to change. It involves admitting we are wrong to try and live our lives independent of the one who gave us life. That’s how we start our Christian life and that’s how it continues.
Except… I don’t like that continuous part!
For some reason I have assumed one or two confessions of imperfection and vulnerability are enough. I’m fixed now. I’m all good. Nothing to see here.. I’m a perfectly whole individual with zero character flaws and no need for ongoing grace and forgiveness……. yeah, you’re right, who am I kidding?
Try as I might to present to the world I have it all together I really don’t. I’ve still got some way to go.
The temptation to do this as a leader is sometimes overwhelming! John and I highly value vulnerability and believe it is powerful and know we need to keep modelling it if we want our people to grow in it too. But sometimes I just don’t wanna! Humph!
Our friend Matt Hatch once said something (my imperfect memory can remember the gist!) along the lines of “You know you are maturing when the time between realising you’ve messed up and running back to Jesus gets shorter and shorter”. Maturity doesn’t look like never messing up but rather when we inevitably do – we know where we can run and we get there quick.
It turns out – I need to grow up. AGAIN. Urgggh.
I need to mature once more.
I need to run back to Jesus.
There are parts of my character that need to be remoulded and reshaped and at first glance, I have no idea where to start or how to think differently.
Increasingly, I am noticing I am often brash and not gentle. I can be outspoken and judgemental when I want to be quietly trusting of those I love and God himself.
It’s a combo of upbringing and personality flaws. Wahoo! Don’t you just love those.
Some of them are pretty in-grained and subconsciencous but never-the-less I want to change. But where to begin? (I’ve written these down for my own benefit!).
See it. Admit it. Own it. Like an addict must admit they have a problem and need help before they can begin to walk the path of recovery – I must get to a place where I admit there’s a problem. Confessing it to God quickly is important.
When I’m brash and outspoken or even when I express things more strongly than is necessary I can hurt people and put up barriers between myself and others. That grieves my Father God who loves and values unity between people. I also recognise I have hurt people in the past that are gentler spirits than I am. I have often judged these people and expected them to simply toughen up. I know – I’m an idiot.
It’s important that when I see that pain I’ve caused that I also feel it – otherwise I know I’ll just do it again. I need to take a bit of time to let it sink in and lament or grieve for the grief I’ve caused in those I love. It’s what love does. It grieves with those who grieve (Rom 12:15) especially when I’m the one that caused the pain!
To God and others. Here’s my imperfect (but heartfelt) attempt:
Father I have hurt you and those you love. My harsh words come too often. I speak without thinking and lack wisdom. I love my own opinion too much and do not value yours or those of others enough.
To those I have addressed with strong words or have been very direct in a way you have found unhelpful or hurtful I am very sorry. I want to change and ask you to help me continue to do so.
Ask for help.
One of my favourite prayers to pray is from a book called “Practicing the Presence of God” about an amazing, Godly man called Brother Lawrence. When he realised he was imperfect he would often pray this: “How can I be anything more Lord, unless you change me?”
I know I cannot change unless I have God’s help. He is the one that knows how to change me and make me more like Him.
Once I’ve done all this I wait to see what God would have me do. I pay attention to my bible reading and see if I hear His gentle restorative voice behind it. I wait to see who He brings into contact with me over the next few days or weeks. I see and watch and pay attention to how I want to interact with them – more often than not I realise I want to be different than I have been in the past. I thank God for the chances and motivation to do things differently. Slowly over time I will break a habit – I will hopefully become something else other than brash and outspoken, hopefully closer to gentle and trusting. Hopefully closer to Jesus himself.
I guess it turns out in the end, if I really think about it – I do know what to do, who to run to and how to change.