Time for a Change

For all our complaints about “the way things are,” few of us really like change. Even positive changes are stressful: new responsibilities, new habits to learn, a surge in unanticipated happenings. Small wonder that most people prefer to engage in the classic Einsteinian definition of insanity: doing the same old thing while hoping against hope for new results. The best possible changes only, please, and the fewer (especially the fewer demanded from us) the better.

When we do try to get serious about changing–as frequently happens early in the year and at other obvious transition points–we go about it in “reverse cold turkey” fashion, trying to implement every possible improvement at once. Like most cold-turkey withdrawals from ingrained habits, that approach tends to drive our misery to record highs, even knock us flat on our backs. Small wonder we give up; we get too exhausted to continue!

Worse, by turning all our energy toward an obsession with new good habits, we often let old good habits wither from neglect. During times of change, good health practices (physical and spiritual) are frequently the first to get pushed back on the list–just when we most need to keep our strength up. The book¬†Too Busy Not to Pray has earned “classic” status and twenty years in print for good reason: most of us, though we’d never say it out loud, secretly regard prayer as a dispensable luxury, a time-killer if not a time-waster. Shouldn’t we be actively producing, keeping up with life’s demands, not sitting around in meditative comas? Aren’t our to-do lists long enough already; how can we afford to turn away from them while they get even longer?

As Jesus said to Martha, we are “worried and upset about many things,” and it’s blinded us to the best good things. Small wonder our lives never seem to change; we’re relying on our own best (human) judgment of how to handle that. We don’t trust God to change anything for us.

And we become our own worst enemies through our “what’s in it for me” attitudes, the stress we inflict on our bodies and spirits, the strain that deadens our resistance to temptation. Stressed and fatigued souls inevitably follow the path of least resistance (usually straight back to old sinful habits); they haven’t the energy to break new paths.

Jesus, He Who gives rest for our souls, offers all the strength we need–if we sit still long enough to let Him fill us. On His timetable, not ours.

But first we have to convince ourselves–at least far enough to act on it–of what’s really important. We value long lists of achievements; God values deep relationships. We value speed and efficiency; God is more concerned with process than deadline. We see mostly our immediate concerns; God sees how all this is working out for our good.

His point of view seems totally contrary to human reason. But really, Who’s in position to know best?

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