You gotta Cooperate with Change

Change_ExitSignI’m tired. Not physically, but mentally, maybe a bit emotionally. And I know why. I’ve deliberately put myself in a place requiring a change in my attitudes, in my perspective, in my limited world-view. It’s part of the “Radical Acceptance” journey. But I’ll tell you what: change is tiring. It can be exhausting. And part of me really just wants to back out, withdraw to my former comfort zone, and find some peace.

Peace is good. But it’s a state of mind, not a goal. I mean, if we seek to always “find” peace, we’ll never put ourselves in any kind of stressful situation — situations that cause us to grow. Instead, we’re supposed to stretch ourselves, step outside our immediate and little lives, and wrestle with life. It’s in the struggles that we discover our true character, and it’s only after a great struggle that we can really appreciate our victory. And somehow, by holding God’s hand through the struggle, through the unsettling changes, there we find peace and security. He is there with us in it all, and we can always fall back on his love and support even when everything around us is being shaken up. We find peace in him, not necessarily in our circumstances.

So, I can’t back out. I can’t go back to my familiar church, to comfy environments, and non-threatening people. I’ve whined too often in the past (at least in my prayers) about wanting change, wanting something new, to see God’s love for real and to experience his power and his presence outside just my prayer closet. People who work with the poor and oppressed, the Mother Teresa types, often talk about finding Jesus in the faces of those they serve. I’m not in their league. I haven’t put myself out that far. I’m just stretching a LITTLE right now. And I’ve met some truly wonderful people, people with genuine hearts of gold, people who care, and who desire to serve God and their fellow human beings. Along with them, I’ve met some who are a little rough around the edges, and I often seem to slice my fingers a little on those edges. But hey, I’m no well-polished saint by any means either, and I know some them have grimaced at some of my comments, been abrased by my rough edges. Guess we’re in a mutual blood bath right now. Eventually, I expect, calluses will form on both sides, and we’ll get used to each other. But for now, I just have to gut it out. Hey, if they can put up with me, I can certainly learn to accommodate some of them. Who knows? When I can truly walk in that “radical acceptance”, when I can genuinely love people without wanting to trim off the edges that grate me the wrong way, or recast them in my own image, I may actually become of some use or make some kind of real contribution.

My mom sent an email today, commenting on Oswald Chamber’s remark that “No amount of enthusiasm (worked up zeal) will ever stand up to the strain that Jesus Christ will put upon His servant.”  She said that a desire to serve God is not enough to keep us going, nor will our lives demonstrate a real love of God. Our desire alone will not be able “to stand the strain” that Christ puts upon His disciples. We need a revelation of Him, who He is, and what He has done for the sin problem in our lives. We need the Holy Spirit moving and working within us, motivating us. In other words, we can’t do it in our own strength.

And I guess that’s where I’m at right now. I was motivated by my desire to see a change in my life, to actually make a difference in this world and in the lives of people around me. I wanted to be an agent for the Kingdom, a useful tool in God’s hands to help his people. And prompted by a little revelation that I needed to learn how to love people as they are (not as how I’d like them to be), I’ve stepped out a little, and moved into a circle where I see God at work, where I know his heart is. But God’s work can be ugly sometimes — at least to us. It’s definitely got its challenges. And I’ve gone as far as my own “desire” can take me. I need to experience the master’s hand recrafting my heart, touching my mind, opening my eyes. I need the Holy Spirit working within me before he can effectively work through me. I’m gonna need his strength to get me through to where he wants me, to where he can use me. Because I’m tired. Change is hard, and sometimes I just don’t want to exert the energy.

But nothing worth anything ever comes easily. Change takes guts. Success, achievement, and a fulfilling life don’t come to those who sit comfortably on the sidelines. If you want to make a real difference, you gotta stop resisting the stretching, and cooperate with the change. Even when you’re tired. Reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said when he was worn out: “when I am weak, then am I strong.”  I’m on a new road now, changing lanes from ones that point to familiarity, comfort and security, to ones that lead to new horizons, increased usefulness, and greater personal fulfillment.  I’m taking the exit out of familiar territory.  And yeah, it’s a little taxing.  A little more demanding.  But the “same ole, same ole” just isn’t working for me anymore.  And I’m really curious to see where this road takes me.  I’m gonna need more of God’s strength to see me through some of the turns ahead, but I guess that’s not a bad road to be on after all.

10 Replies to “You gotta Cooperate with Change”

  1. You want to change… change is good, and you obviously have made a supreme effort, but perhaps you have tried too hard, or perhaps you have gone on your own “steam.” Perhaps God never intended for you to go “whole hog” into change? Maybe in your case, baby steps are required…first you walk, then you run. It’s not so tiring that way.
    My sister is legally blind, and recently she bought a book for me to read to her called, (I think) “The Dream Maker.” (If I could find the book at the moment I woiuld be more exact as to title and author.) Anyway, I think you might enjoy it.
    God made all of us with a purpose in mind, and to preform that purpose we had to have certain attributes, likes and dislikes. Stretching is good, but if done too suddenly will cause break somewhere! Just a thought!

  2. Pat, good thought. Maybe I’m jumping in too fast, but really, what I’m doing isn’t all that much. It’s just in comparison to standing still for so long, every little change seems like a tug in a new direction, a new strain. I’m just not used to it yet.

    And, every time I think of pulling back a bit, that verse from Hebrews comes to mind: “But my righteous one will live by faith, and if he shrinks back I will not be pleased with him.” That “shrinking back” … I don’t want to hold up the train that I’ve been waiting for for so long.

    Your email earlier about our enthusiasm not being enough to stand the strain discipleship puts on us really got me thinking. I think I’m on the right track with the change, but there’s a limit to how much I can do myself. And maybe that’s the point. Real change, real effectiveness, only occurs when empowered by the Spirit.

  3. Update: part of cooperating with change is just to relax and enjoy the ride. More than an active action of TRYING to practice radical acceptance, I did the opposite today. Didn’t “try” anything. Just let the walls down, and see what happens. And it was great. No pressure to “be good” or “not be judgmental”; just a relaxed attitude of taking things and people “as is”. Amazing how much easier things are when you’re not the one trying to make everything right. 🙂 Enjoyed the ride a lot more today.

  4. Amen, amen, and amen! How much easier things are when you’re not the one trying to make everything right. The sentence packs the meaning of pages.

    [via Facebook]

  5. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will talk about this website with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *