When the People We Love Change

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about change, mostly internal, but also what it means to have dynamic relationships that provide the kind of room necessary for transformation to take place.

When I speak about relationships, I’m also talking about the relationship each of us has with ourselves.

I think it’s vital that we understand that our entire life – from the day we are born until the day we die – is a process. Every set of experiences, every stage of development, and every season of change is fundamental to some process or another.

As we seek Yahweh for the wisdom to identify the process we’re in, I think it’s also important that we ask Him who we are meant to be in that season. There have been times when I’ve had to specifically pray for the grace to allow myself to change, and while He answers this prayer, it’s never easy.

The desire to remain the same for fear of the unknown isn’t worth not getting the most out of the process you’re in, which is exactly what will happen if you don’t embrace the discomfort of change while you’re in it.

These days I find myself asking Yahweh to give me new eyes, and allow me to see myself as He sees me. It’s true that healthy insight is necessary for a healthy outlook, but a healthy insight is one that is guided by and inspired by Yahweh. He alone knows everything that lies inside of me, and He alone knows what the end product of all these processes I’m undergoing is supposed to be. So the only logical thing for me to do is to ask Him to help me see myself the way He does.

I think we all have dominant personality traits, and we can sometimes disqualify potential attributes in ourselves simply because we’ve never been in that situation before. My personal trainer is quite skilled at coming up with various exercises that strengthen and challenge me in a new way every day. And to be honest, when he demonstrates some of these workouts my first thought is ‘I can’t do that.’ But before I started working out consistently, Yahweh instructed me to always try before I said I couldn’t. He was, in short, challenging me to not place limits on myself in new situations. With the exception of a few exercises that we’ve had to modify, I’ve been able to complete every single workout as my trainer instructed. It’s been difficult and sweaty, but so rewarding. My body is doing things I never knew it could, and it’s completely remaking my idea of my physical limitations.

The same can apply to emotional and mental change. Before you say ‘I can’t be that’, determine in your heart that if Yahweh says you can be it, you will commit to the change. If Yahweh says that that is who you need to be in this season, it means that He has graced you to become. That’s the thing about conversations with Yahweh: because His words cannot fail, you can fully trust and rely on what He says. If He says that I am a warrior, then it means I can become one. Whether or not His words match my present situation, I believe that because He has said it, I am able to become it at some point. And that gives me the confidence I need to begin re-identifying myself. It gives me the strength I need to take on a new level of complexity, a new challenge of sorts. His words help me to begin the process of positive change. Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts put it this way, His words give us the confidence we need to get a ‘used to be’ down in our spirits. They help us to begin embracing our new name, and walking in our new identity.

But just as we have to allow ourselves the grace to become whatever Yahweh says we must in order to get the most from whatever process we are in, I think it’s important to allow the people we are in relationship with to change in the same way.

I think we can become intimidated by the kind of dramatic change certain processes can demand of people. Once Yahweh gets ahold of someone in their process, and begins to accelerate their becoming in order to facilitate His purpose, it can be daunting and confusing. We won’t always understand who the people we are connected to are becoming, and their sudden transformation can sometimes cause us to feel lonely, abandoned, or even bitter.

Today I want to challenge you to allow the people that you love to change in the way that their processes are demanding. We are all imperfect people, and these things we experience in life, no matter how tragic or painful, always hold the potential for amazing internal change. I believe this because I believe that Yahweh is able to work all things for the good, especially the seemingly completely bad. I think it’s a matter of perspective, and willingness to allow ourselves to embrace the kind of change that the process is requiring.

This isn’t an easy thing, but I’ve felt it in my own heart. I’ve been in relationship with people who were changing at a rate that was faster than I was able to process, or changing in a way I didn’t understand or wasn’t willing to accept. There have been times when I saw them being wrapped in a cocoon, and all I wanted to do was rip it open and stop them from becoming someone I didn’t recognize.

But I’ve learned that we do people a grave disservice when we hold them so tightly to past versions of themselves that any form of change, positive or negative, would sabotage the bond we share with them.

We want the relationships we have with others to be environments that are conducive to both purposeful becoming, or positive change, and digression, or negative change. The reason why our relationships need to be conducive to both is because grace works in both directions. Grace works as ability and empowerment to become when we’re going forward, and as ridiculous forgiveness and unmerited favor when we’re going backward. Our relationships with people should mirror the relationship we have with Yahweh, and that’s the way His grace works: in both directions.

So as the people we love move forward with their lives, and begin to take on new aspects of character and embrace the kind of change that would make us uncomfortable, I think it’s important that we give them the room within relationship with us that they need to spread their wings and really take off. But if they should happen to fall backward, and begin to pick up old habits or attitudes that would undermine the productivity of the process that they’re in, we also need to have the grace to handle them with care, and encourage them to position and posture differently, to embrace the change that their process is prompting.

As change comes knocking on both your own heart, and the hearts of the people you love, I pray that you have the courage to let it in. I pray that your relationships are dynamic, and that you have the courage to embrace the changed version of you, and the changed versions of others. I pray that you will learnt to love people in whatever forms they must be in order to purposefully change through their processes, and I pray your heart is open to embracing the complete you, the you that Yahweh says you are.

Be encouraged.

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