Friday, April 26, 2013

Being the change.

When I was a kid, probably grade school age, maybe ten or so, I loved playing outside. Every chance I got was like a little vacation from anything inside and I used to wait, sometimes not so patiently, anticipating the moment I would be released to get out there. It was almost as if I was a prisoner of sorts to the indoors and going out was my freedom. And that freedom was viewed the same whether it was snowing, raining, sunny, windy or anything. My friends and I quite literally lived to be outside.

Looking back, I think the number one reason why playing outside was so epic was the lack of rules, regulations and encumbrances placed upon us by our parents and teachers. We were responsible for making the rules for the games we played at recess or after school in the neighborhood. Nary was there a time when an authority figure came around and told us we were climbing trees all wrong, or that our game of man-hunt needed more players or our basketball games should have had a referee. We figured it out, on our own, every time. Sure, there were moments of intensity when one of us didn’t agree with something and it usually boiled down to some yelling but in the end, we all came back to play the next day.

Most of us can place a dot on the time line of our lives when we stopped living for the sheer joy of playing outside every day. Few people make a living out of playing outdoors and most of those positions still involve some level of responsibility. This is not meant to be a moment to look back in regret, however. It should be a fond moment of recollection where upon we evoke powerful memories, ones filled with laughter and care free smiles. More importantly, this could be your opportunity to assess your current place in life and make a change or two.

I’ve talked about change before on a few levels and have noted the power that change can have when it means more than just some trite slogan. This is not meant to be slanderous but the truth is that very few people change their every day routines without a major shake up. Modifying behavior is serious business but a quick check of the material found in the check out line at the grocery store would suggest that anyone can do it. And while it is true that anyone can do it, statistically very few people actually commit what is necessary to make a noticeable change in their lives.

Look at it this way; we have all committed to some sort of change in our lives at some point. Whether as a New Year’s resolution, or because of a commitment to a loved one or friend, or possibly because of a dare or a bet, we have lots of good reasons to make a change in our lives. For example, when you commit to lose weight, your diet has to change. This means all the food in the refrigerator and freezer has to change too. The way you cook, the way you shop, the places you eat out and so on. How many people do you know who have literally turned their lives upside down for their diet? And yet somehow we expect some miraculous change to come?

And how about when you commit your life to Jesus? Have you read the Bible? It says that when you say yes to Jesus, your old life has to go and you begin a new life. This means that all the old habits have to be thrown out. Things like cussing, lying, cheating, your driving habits (you know who you are) and so on. How many born again Christians do you know who have literally turned their lives upside down for their faith? Is it OK to live as a Christian just on Sunday morning? Are we somehow changed from the inside out just because we say so?

Here’s what I think: change comes at a price. What price are you willing to pay? For a lot of people, change is expensive and it’s not worth the eventual cost, so therefore most people only talk about it, they don’t actually follow through. Seeing change through to fruition requires accountability and cannot be achieved without it and most of us don’t want anyone to see us fail, so we bail out and make up excuses. Personally, I’m tired of excuses. Like the line in the song goes, “I am the king of excuses. I’ve got one for every selfish thing I do.”

Getting out from under the scepter of excuses takes bravery; and a really big shovel. I think it also takes getting outside of our current situation and assessing where we are in the world, where we are in our community and where we are in our family dynamics. We tend to place these restrictions on ourselves because it’s what we’ve become accustomed to. Old habits die hard, it’s true, but it is indeed possible to bury them where they belong. If you’re struggling with an old habit, maybe it’s time to ask someone close to you to hold you accountable to the change you wish to see in yourself.

When we were kids, if there was something we didn’t like we were told to change it, provided we had the power to do so. Usually it was an attitude. Funny how these things come around again.

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