I have a friend who could not stop cheating on her husband. She often asked me how God could do this to her. I’ve stopped trying to respond to the question having come to understand that it is both rhetorical and a way to sidestep her own personal responsibility in the mess that is her life. One day we went to lunch and over dessert she suggested that people don’t change. I was forced to make a reply. I couldn’t just let that one stand.
One benefit of being part of a community is the stories I hear. For years and years, meeting most every single week usually multiple times with said community in various forms gives all of us a fairly honest perspective on our daily lives. These stories are rich and nuanced and lived out often over decades, not days. When someone speaks of a changed life it is hard to be a BS’er because if that person is part of our tribe, we see their life unfold in our midst. Everyone knows I don’t have it all together and I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who are honest enough to admit the same of themselves. But that is not equivalent to saying people don’t change. People do change. Sometimes in huge ways, other times in small, uneven next right steps. There are people who were lost and gone astray from their own core values and who found their way back to themselves and a purposeful, meaningful life. I felt I needed to share that information with my friend or else I might be complicit in leaving her feeling that she had to accept a duplicitous and self-shaming lifestyle. I shared a couple of examples from the lives of people in our community that indicated that change is possible; she ate her dessert, sighed and indicated to me that I just didn’t understand. And she’s right. I don’t know why or how or who might experience freedom from their compulsions and confusing choices that lead to heartache. But my confusion doesn’t keep it from happening.
Quoting Sister Monahan again, she says “…sober AA members who have been able to stop drinking and to ‘stay stopped,’ as we say, often speak of themselves as ‘chosen,’ of having received sobriety as a gift. I believe that I have indeed received a gift, but my conviction that God loves everyone and desires good for everyone keeps me from thinking of myself as chosen. I simply do not know why I am among those who are fortunate enough to be in recovery.” According to Brene Brown, there are actually skill sets that can help us grow, change, even transform. She likes to call it wholehearted living.
Tomorrow, I’ll unpack her concept, but for today I invite you to consider this: do you think you are living wholeheartedly or are you just dialing it in? Are you stuck in a giant “sigh” of defeat? Change requires that we start by acknowledging the truth about ourselves. Today, consider if you are satisfied with your life. Why? Why not? What’s unmanageable? What would change if you realized that things could get better?