There is an old saying that people don’t change. I strongly disagree with that though. People can and do change! Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse but we all change. Sudden change can be hard, but oftentimes it’s necessary to become a better version of ourselves. This has been something weighing heavily on me lately. I am changing into a better version of me because of my faith. Old parts of me are dying. Praise God for that because they were things I didn’t always like about myself. Like the prayer “Lord empty me of me so I can be filled with you.” It’s referring to the sinful parts of ourselves, not us as a whole. God doesn’t want us to be a different person. He made us and created us, but the sinful parts of us need to go.
I’m finding the courage to navigate a newer side of myself that wants to be bolder in my faith. Like writing these blog posts. The human-ness in us wants to be accepted and liked. Sadly, writing about God isn’t always popular, so we tend to shy away from talking about it or writing about it. Then one day God grabs you and shakes you and says wake up! So the groggy eyed Nicole got up every morning during Lent and spent the first part of the morning sipping hot coffee (because it’s early! DUH!), praying and doing devotionals. There’s a funny thing that happens the more you pray…it makes you want to pray MORE! God fills those empty parts of you with all HIS goodness and love and you start to feel whole and loved and happy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy person by nature but this feeling is something even more, and it literally fills you to the brim! Lent had a profound effect on me this year. Holy week tore me up, spit me out and made me radiantly new.
Yesterday morning I was in the middle of a devotion and felt drawn to write something down. I grabbed my prayer notebook and wrote. What’s funny is this post is actually one I’ve been wanting to write for a few weeks but the words always evaded me. I knew when the time was right, it would come to me. These next few paragraphs in Italics are what I wrote. Word for word. I pray that they reach someone and speak to you in a way they did to me as I sat in prayer. As I finished writing, right at the minute I had to wake up my girls, I set my notebook down and had such a sense of peace about it and knew this post was ready.
Do not be prideful that you lack the ability to change because of fear. Fear of people looking at you differently. Fear of losing old “friends” whom live a different sort of life than the one God intended for us. Fear of being seen as different.
It’s just like when someone changes their food choices in a permanent way. For instance… just because the old you would drive through McDonalds, but the new you wouldn’t dream of it! You don’t stress much about making the change because you know it’s better for you. You feel better for these changes so you keep at it. Spiritual changes are no different. Getting rid of old sinful ways, like bad food choices, will improve your life. You start to feel better! God never promised that it’d be easy. Jesus said “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34 That cross led to eternal peace and happiness in Heaven.
Think of it like this, when going to a party many times when following a Paleo diet there aren’t many food choices. It can be awkward and difficult to navigate the buffet and stick to your lifestyle. We don’t want to be embarrassed by being different or make the host feel bad, but we stick to our diet anyway. Why? Because even though the food may taste amazing at that moment you know that deterring means you’ll feel awful later. Just like sin. It might feel good at the moment but later on the guilt, the shame and the hurt hit you and you feel awful.
So why is it so difficult to stick to your beliefs as a Christian? If you can do the hard work for your health, make the hard choices, and stick to your guns by not eating unhealthy foods, why is it so hard to stick to your Christian beliefs? Your spiritual life is on the line. Eternity, not just the time you’re here on this earth. It is hard to make changes and be a new person on your quest for a close relationship with the Lord. We’re human and we fail often. But we’re not defeated in that sin, we need only go to God for true forgiveness. Just like with food. One day we may indulge and eat something we know isn’t the best choice, but it doesn’t mean we totally give up and go back to our old ways. We start again at the next meal and do better.
Say for instance you realize you may partake in some sort of activity that you know is wrong. Whether it’s drinking in excess, gossiping, premarital sex, drugs, cussing, etc., and your friends are used to you doing these things, or they do these things. How do you go about changing this cycle and telling them that isn’t who you are anymore? There is a massive fear of being rejected for these changes. MAKE THE CHANGES ANYWAY. Do it for yourself, your happiness, your inner peace, and your eternal destiny.
If your friends are true friends they will love you and support you through the changes and when you become the new you. If they abandon you, make fun of you, or challenge you then maybe it’s time to look for some new friends. Be willing to be the one that stands out from the crowd for your faith. Be brave!
David stood up to Goliath because he knew God was on his side. God is on your side too. Be a David in a society filled with Goliaths. After all, we all know what happened to Goliath.
In High School I was once called “one of those God freaks”. I blurted out before I knew what I was saying “No, I’m not!” but then instantly regretted saying it. I didn’t get a chance to defend myself because the kids (one of them was supposedly a friend), walked off laughing. It’s been 19 years and I still remember that moment. It’s high time I quit living that way, denying my love of God by being private about it, and start being brave to show that I love God. I’m working hard to be a better person and change into a better version of me.
I pray that if you know this feeling too, you look inside and find the strength to be brave and be a David. I’m not suggesting being pushy with your faith. What I am saying is to not be afraid to be the new you. Be the you that tries hard to avoid sin, even when everyone you’re surrounded by is doing it. Don’t be afraid to divert a conversation that you know is heading in a bad direction. Don’t be afraid to turn down that extra drink, that date that you know only wants one thing, or suggesting a different music station. Be you. Unapologetically you.