Have you heard the phrase, “That person will never change.” Or how about the similar, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Maybe you’ve heard yourself say, “That’s just the way I am.”
Years ago, I was in a conversation with someone who was describing their most recent conflict with their boss. The person’s response to their boss was, “Take me or leave me, that’s just the way I am.” The same person had been through a handful of jobs in recent years, each time ending in drama and conflict, to which they believed it was always the other people in the job, usually the boss, who couldn’t, but should have been able to, deal with the person’s attitude and personality. “I am who I am. Deal with it.”
I see two kinds of people in these situations. People who don’t want to change, and people who don’t think they can change. Are you in the latter group? Often we think we can’t change because for years we’ve tried, to little or no avail. We get frustrated at our efforts, most of which seem to be failures, and we think we are incapable of meaningful or lasting change. Know the feeling?
Or maybe you are in the former group, and you don’t want to change. Maybe you reason, “It’s good that I accept myself, and others should also.” It is good to have a healthy sense of self, but too often, in so doing, we are simply excusing our poor attitudes and behaviors. We don’t like to think of ourselves as needing to change, and we can grow a hard exterior to those who suggest we do need to change. While the wake of our lives is awash with broken relationships, we reason that all those people just couldn’t handle us, and that’s their problem, not ours. What is really going on, however, is almost certainly unchecked narcissism and arrogance in our lives. It is super difficult to see it, though, when we are boldly committed to our own rightness.
Is there an area of your life where you would like to be more of the disciple that Jesus wants you to be, but you are struggling or self-deceived? Is there hope for those of us would like to change but feel like we can’t? Are we just hopeless?
This coming week on the blog, we’ll seek answers to these important questions in Ezekiel chapters 35 and 36. Please read them ahead of time, and then I look forward to discussing it further with you next week, as we talk about the sometimes confusing and frustration process of change!
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash