A Change Is Going To Come
It’s a word that is often bandied about in various contexts. Change was the overall theme of the 2008 Presidential Election, no matter which side of the political aisle you sat on. The Great Recession of 2009 ushered in changes many of us had never experienced in our lifetimes. And as we begin the new year we all hope that we experience positive change in ourselves and in our country. Politicians talk about change, businesspeople talk about change, pundits talk about change, therapists talk about change, even Pastor Kate’s powerful sermon last weekend talked about change. But how do we change? Can we change ourselves? Can we change others?
A moment of transparency with you all, my family in Christ: I struggle with an addiction. But unlike an alcoholic or a drug addict my addiction is to something free, readily available, and completely legal—I am addicted to people. Not in the sense of loneliness, but in the co-dependent meaning of the word that strives for validation, recognition, and control. I didn’t realize I was a co-dependent until I ended up in an Overcoming Obstacles therapy group at my Southern Baptist college (proof that the Lord still works in mysterious ways). In extremely simple and short terms, all of my interpersonal relationships were colored with an unhealthy craving for acceptance because I had rejected myself and felt rejected by others. It wasn’t until I had made these realizations about myself that I was able to change my ways of thinking and my behaviors.
In fact, while in that class I was able to learn a lot about the nature of change. Change requires a lot of effort. In order to change we have to take an inventory of where we are at and see what we can improve to make things better. Most change requires the breaking of old habits. Many changes lead us into new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable places. It’s a sad truth that we often resist change because it is “easier” than what we are doing now. My change in the way I relate to people is one that I need to regularly review and reinforce. One of the best things I learned while in class was called the “Bombshell Theory:”
I cannot change others by direct action.
I can only change myself, by God’s grace.
Others will have a tendency to change
in reaction to my change.
Astute readers will have noticed one thing about this post so far—how does my Lenten focus on prayer relate to change? The answer, of course, is everything. For you see, to pray is to change. Prayer changes our vantage point from seeing things through our understanding and by putting on the mind of Christ. Once you begin seeing things the way that God sees them, there’s no way you can look at what is going on in your life or in your world the same way. I have found that as I’ve focused more on prayer that even the way that I pray has changed. Too often I have found myself using God as a Divine Vending Machine where you would receive a reward after the correct set of inputs. Prayer now is about thinking God’s thoughts.
Prayer allows us to open ourselves to God and to allow God to change us and fix what is broken. It is not easy. It is not always fast. It is not always pretty. It is, however, always beautiful. It is important to remember that this process is personal—it begins within ourselves. Changing others through direct action, as Bombshell Theory states, is impossible. It’s not our job to be in control of others, but to pray that God would help us all see what needs changing in our lives. And when we are all praying, all seeing each other through the eyes of God, I believe a change is going to come. Are you ready for it?
Editor’s note: this piece was previously featured on another blog project I worked on at Holy Covenant UMC in Chicago, Illinois. During that year my Lenten focus was on prayer. If you’d like to get involved as a contributor for COTV’s Lenten Blogs, please feel free to contact me (Carlos) at firstname.lastname@example.org