As creatures in time, change is no stranger to us. Time, after all, is a measurement of change. Yet for all that, change can be one of the most railed against and dreaded things in our lives. The reasons are complex, but one of them is surely because some changes are huge… life-altering even. In this post, a result of my own prayers and introspection today, I offer four sources that seem, to me anyway, necessary for making lasting change in one’s life.
This one seems obvious, but many overlook God today. God is the One Who constantly holds existence in the proverbial palm of His hand. He sustains creation from moment to moment and providentially provides for all our needs. He is the primary source and inspiration for any changes we could ever hope to make.
In order to make a change that lasts, we must begin with gratitude. Gratitude, in turn, leads to a desire to please God with a sacrificial offering of one’s life. We can even get specific here, and offer a particular aspect of life that needs change. God will see our changes through to the end, provided we turn to Him regularly in prayer. Finally, we come to Him full circle with grateful hearts for the change He works in us.
Scripture tells us we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Hopefully you have particular saints you turn to in your life, asking for them to support you with their prayers to God. However it happens, God makes them aware of our needs, and they support us through prayer in our efforts to cooperate with God’s grace. Certainly we all have guardian angels whose very calling this is! I turn in a particular way to the saint whose memorial we celebrate today – St. Thomas More. He’s an example of courage in the face of extreme difficulty, which ultimately cost him his life rather than give into something that would have cost him his soul. He’s also my direct ancestor (my 15th Great-grandfather). As with all the saints, I want to make him proud. I want him and the entire celestial court cheering me on as I work to amend my life. My friends, the saints are the second source for change in our lives.
When it comes to doing right by others, there is no group of people more important than our family. For starters, family members accept you for all your flaws, and they know those flaws more than anyone accept God Himself (and perhaps your guardian angel and the saints). Our families are also the ones most likely to want us to succeed at whatever good we wish to accomplish. It is no surprise then, that family can be one of the greatest sources for changing one’s life. In my case, the most visible force for change has been those times I’ve realized the hurt I’ve caused my wife or kids by my actions. Nothing I’ve experienced on this earth is a more powerful motivator for change than my family.
In essence, change begins and ends with me/you. Don’t confuse that truth with selfishness. Not at all! If a person’s sole motivation to change is strictly selfish, it’s doomed to fail. We are communal creatures, and we thrive when we work in concert with others and for others. No, a person can never change just for someone else (it won’t be authentic and won’t last), but desiring change that benefits both you and those you care about is far more powerful than doing it just for yourself. Without your cooperation, even God, the saints, and your family aren’t going to cause lasting change in you. That’s true for me. It’s true for anyone. It’s entirely possible for everyone else in one’s life to desire change for a person than that person wants for himself/herself. If a person doesn’t want to change, if they don’t see the need for change, it won’t happen.
On this Memorial of St. Thomas More, in these first days of the Summer of Dreams, I’m embracing change in my life. I’ll need God’s grace, the gift of fortitude, my loving family as a daily reminder of what matters most, and my own desire and will, but I’m doing it.