Tuesday, October 19, 2010


"Sometimes you have to stop living down here, and start living up there."

Eminem (real name: Marshall Mathers) uttered those very words in the 2002 hit "8 Mile" when describing how he wanted to change his circumstances and become someone greater, have a greater life.

 Last night a friend was handing me some direction on how to speak to someone about their difficult circumstance and she said something I've heard a million times in life: "Daniel, most people don't change." I chewed on those words and realized that don't really is the operative word here. What gives me hope is that the word can't doesn't fit into this sentence. 

When thinking about what the key proponents are for change, I really can't put my finger on the trigger, at least not in a general sense that is applicable for all people. I mean, I know what can change people, but I don't know how to get people to acknowledge and accept the what. One I am assured of, however, is that people definitely can change. How do I know this? Well, I'm here writing this. Out of experience. 

Experience is garnered from waking up each day, going to work, interacting with people, reacting to people, situations, etc. Experience is just the natural accumulation of knowledge that you gain from being a human on Earth. What we all go through isn't extraordinarily different, most things boil down to just a few generalized feelings: love, joy, loneliness, fear, and peace. I think a lot of people really want to get more of the latter, so change is usually sought when one thinks that change will bring about that peace. That will only get you so far, though. 

When you envision peace, think about what you see. Is it riches that give you the resources to not worry about spending money or lacking anymore? Is it a well-educated, kind, always-smiling, always-graceful, never-difficult, rose-buying, dinner-making, kid-raising cutie on your arm that keeps you company and assures you won't be lonely ever again? Is it that status at work, or society in general which empowers you and makes you a person worthy of great respect? All of those things are temporal. And I assure you that no one with one or all of those things find true inner peace at all times. 

I've chased after a lot of things in my life, and I can admit that a lot of them were sought as a means to an end. I foolishly grasped to things that would inevitably go away until I grabbed the next one (think Tarzan swinging through the forest on vines that run their natural course of swing, bound by the laws of physics). I was getting by from situation-to-situation, person-to-person, emotional-high-to-emotional-high. But I one day realized that merely getting by isn't my destiny  and won't culminate in me achieving my dreams. It was then that I realized change would need to come from within, and that that I couldn't seek outside vices and sources to find wholeness. And once I started to get a taste, it became an insatiable hunger until I found my calendar fill with ministry, quiet time, and time spent with people who love and need love from me.

Can. That word. "Let's have a can-do" attitude: such a Corporate America and team thing to say, but it rings true. Jesus was a CEO and captain for the company, or team, of love, and He believed in each one of us, He knows we have the fortitude within us to be courageous and brave, to stop being people who lack healthy relationships, have low self-esteem, don't know their purpose, are guilty because of past mistakes, deal with anger in unhealthy ways, find cyclical bad habits in our lives (curse my nail-biting!), need healing from past hurts, allow our pasts to dictate our future, have unhealthy boundaries, live in the shame placed on us by others, are weighed down by the loss of a loved one or a divorce, have lost our innocence, or can't have a healthy dating life before marriage. And, to encourage us when we don't think we can become those people, He has given us His Word, and in it a perfect example of someone who I'm willing to bet no one ever thought would amount to anything like all that: Saul.

It's not easy to let go of what makes us us. It's not easy to acknowledge that we are scummy, selfish, and wired for self-destruction. It takes a lot of untangling and washing of ourselves to free ourselves of mindsets and burdens. Sometimes it even takes the sometimes difficult but rewarding choice of seeking counseling and mentoring. And, more importantly than anything else, it's not always easy and can be a knock to our pride to admit that we need a Savior, but I can assure anyone from personal experience that all these things will truly set you free, that these things will invite and engender change within you.

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