Tuesday, February 16, 2010


"I can't change."

"You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

"A leopard can't change its spots."

"He was born that way and he'll die that way."

In 2008, Barack Obama ran under the campaign slogan "Change we can believe in." This was a powerful statement because all too often we don't believe in change. Politicians tell us that they're going to change our country for the better, but we're skeptical. We've seen the games that politicians play and we don't expect them to improve their conduct or the way they do business. As a general rule, when it comes to politics most of us don't expect substantive change.

This attitude of resignation can lead us to feel rather jaded. When we don't expect people to change, we start to resent them for being the way they are. We begin to dismiss them as the lowest versions of themselves and don't even really give them a chance to change. We do nothing to encourage transformation, and we lose all hope that things can be different. The truth is that we live in a tragic world that is engulfed in sin. And yet, with the help of God, change is possible.

God gives each of us the opportunity to transform over time into the best possible versions of ourselves. With the help of God, bad habits can be broken, addictions can be cured, and attitudes can be reversed. There is hope for every hopeless case. Therefore, instead of giving up on ourselves and each other, we must strive for the change that God has promised. Through the mercy of Christ, each of us can become a new creation. Let us eagerly seek that mercy and strive for that transformation. Let us see the potential that God sees, that God created in each one of us. Change is possible but only because God makes it so.

Sometimes I feel trapped by my shortcomings and I wonder if I'll be broken forever. Sometimes I shut myself away from people who have hurt me because I don't trust them to learn from the mistakes of the past. Sometimes I stop hoping that the people I love can embrace the beautiful futures I want for them. Sometimes I am tempted to believe that we are all trapped in our ruts and that we can't change. But I am wrong, thanks be to God. Instead of wallowing in my personal pitfalls, I must reach out for God and allow Him to transform my life. Instead of giving up on the people around me, I need to pray for them and encourage them. Instead of shutting myself off from the risk of "repeat offenders" I need to make myself vulnerable enough to be part of God's blessing in their lives.

Change is possible, but if I cannot hope for it, I shut myself off from it. God works in the hearts of the willing, so I must open myself to God and lovingly help others to do the same. It's not over, so why should we resign ourselves? God can overcome even the things that seem inevitable, and there is no life so broken or stalled that God cannot work change in it. The world may inspire cynicism, but God really does represent change I can believe in.

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