Can a person change? Are we just born the way we are and thus stuck in a rut we can’t get out of? Perhaps I’ve just been dealing with a rash of craziness but I’m overwhelmed with the number of folks who when discussing some problem in their life, respond with “Well, that’s just who I am.” Usually the sentence continues with something like, “He (or she) knew how I was when they married me. Why are they trying to change me now?” I realize that there are some religious beliefs that would lead one to think they are born in a certain way and that they have no power to change anything about their life. But most of the people I visit with aren’t from that background and don’t really, at least knowingly subscribe to the idea one can’t change the direction of their life without some miraculous intervention by God.
Think for a moment about all the people you know who were brought up to believe in God, to trust his word and to live a pure and holy life, who have turned completely from that way of living and thinking to go deeper and deeper into the world of sin and rebellion against God and even against morality. At the same time think of all the people you know who were brought up in horrible situations, with broken homes, terrible treatment as a child and yet grow up to be good, moral, godly people who make a huge difference for good in the community. Both these example demonstrate that we can become something entirely different from what we were brought up to be.
Twice this week I’ve had the privilege of visiting with two different people who had each been deeply involved in a horrible way of life. They had both been involved in drug abuse, both had been arrested and spent some time in jail for crimes committed while under the influence of drugs. Both had gone through the tragedy of broken homes and divorces in their own marriages. Yet both of these people have turned their life around to be sober, moral, committed to God and working to make a better life for themselves. Both are working to reach out to others who are struggling with similar problems to make such changes in their lives as well. One of these was brought to see me by another man who has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse and gone through great trials as a result. But he has quit the abuse and is now using his background as a means of reaching out to others to help them find God. It is knowing folks like these that both encourages me in trying to be of assistance to others and frustrates me so much with folks who act like they can’t change their life at all, that they are stuck on a merry-go-round of devastation.
What is it with married couples who after twenty years or more together decide they can’t make it any longer? When a person who is in their mid forties and has been married for over twenty years tells me that their partner knew that was the way they were when they married them, I want to scream. What in this world makes one think they can just stay the way they were when they were 18 to 20 years old for the rest of their life? No wonder we have so many people trying to act like teenagers when they have teenagers of their own. Grow up!
Oh, I know the mantra. “I just didn’t get to live out my teen life and I just feel like I missed something and I’m trying to relive my past.” You can’t relive your past. You can’t go back and be a teenager again at forty. All you can do is make a fool of yourself and mess up the lives of people who love you. What any of us can do is change who we are right now to become the kind of people we ought to be and that God wants us to be. We can be the adults that help our children have a safe and secure life with good memories when they grow up. I just can’t get over the number of people who will talk about how bad it was in their growing up in a broken home and then turn around and put their own kids through the same thing. Why in the world can’t we stop the madness and become the parents our own children need and the kind of parents we wish so much we had when growing up? You can’t change your past, but you can change your present and your child’s present and your future and theirs. You can be forgiven of anything that has been done wrong in the past and be clean before God and yourself. Don’t you think it is time to stop with the excuses and start down a new road to mature living?