Thursday, 8 April 2010

How Much

A man once told me the only change we can make to ourselves is spiritual. If we are seeking to alter ourselves for the sake of another in ways outside sanctification, we may need to rethink what we are doing. Thankfully, for myself, this is not a problem. But for the sake of discussion, I will spend a few minutes on what he meant.

We start out small. Everything we do at first is based on what we find others around us doing. The words we say, the movements we make—though we have our individual (and sinful) natures from the very beginning, it's all imitation. As we learn to imitate bigger things, we soon learn to express ourselves in small ways. Time goes on, and we change from infants to children. The older we get, the more we branch out. It is often very early on that we see things which will become important later in all our lives: a two-year-old shows the character of his eighteen-year-old self. But the college years are different. This is when the mould begins to harden. By the time we graduate, we're adults on our own and sometimes those who come out are barely recognisable as those who went in. In this there can be great change. Good, bad, or neutral.

However, that is not the change I, nor the man mentioned above, meant. That kind of change is not effected by what we can control; instead, it is by the events and circumstances over which we have no power. Therefore, it is developmental change that every person goes through, and not change we effect in ourselves.

The power we have over ourselves to change is limited. As Christians, we can change spiritually, as long as we seek God's help. Spiritual changes have far-reaching affect. Spiritual problems often evince themselves in emotional or mental ways that can be altered with some hard sanctification. But the makeup of our bodies and souls, that which determines how outgoing or introvertial we are, that which makes us shy or loud, good with our hands or awkward with our feet—these are changes that we can improve incrementally, things we can alter but not change.

Maybe I've muddled the issue. Maybe not. In any case, it's good to examine how much you're trying to change for any reason, and how possible that really is. People will do stupid things for very good reasons. We all know what that's like. But it could end up hurting everyone involved if we aren't careful.

This isn't to cause doubt or worry to those facing alterations and changes to be made. The largest problems people face in getting along are spiritual. The sole (and I mean SOLE) destroyer of relationships is selfishness. There is nothing else that can break people apart. If both parties involved are selfless and committed to the other's needs, there will never be any conflict or difficulty with each other or in life that can get past this. Being selfless is nearly impossible, at least consistently. But it is one change we can begin to effect, and certainly a valuable one. Perhaps the most valuable one in any part of life.

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