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The Transformation We All Desire

April 14, 2010

On some level, I think we all want to change; to transform some part of our lives or ourselves.

After all, each of us has an idealized version of ourselves, the “other” which lives “out there” in the realm of potentials. It’s the person we will be one day. Or the person we would be, if not for the circumstances which keep us from it.

As each New Year dawns we promise ourselves, “this will be the year that I [insert change here].”

For me, this was the year that I started taking better care of myself, going to gym, giving up fast food and diet sodas. I go to the gym, but usually just use it as justification to eat a crappy lunch.

For Michelle, this is the year that she embraces her Cuban heritage by learning to speak Spanish. It’s April 14 and I don’t know if her Spanish has yet improved.

It’s okay to want something more for yourself, to seek physical, spiritual or purposeful transformation. The problem is, while we share the universal desire to change, we let fear and guilt control us.

Crippling Fear…
Most of us never seek change because we can’t get past the crippling fear it takes to do so. We are afraid of failing but, more than that, we’re afraid of other people knowing that we failed. We have this unrealistic expectation that we should have it all together. To admit that we need to change in an area of our life is to admit that we are weak. To admit that we want to do something to change the world is to open ourselves up to criticism, to possibly be called naïve, idealistic or unrealistic. The sad fact is that, while the desire for change is universal, few of us will ever try.

Leads to Guilt…
Having never tried, we nonetheless carry around the burden of failure. When our heads hit the pillow at the end of the day, we wrestle with our hearts which have been left to atrophy, literally and/or metaphorically. Despite, or perhaps because, we never tried, we carry the weight of failure in the form of guilt.

Which Leads to Excuses.
Obviously, none of us wants to feel guilty all of the time, so we rationalize our fears and excuse our lack of action. We say, “I can’t seek a new job because I have to care for my family.” “I would take better care of myself but I’m just too busy to cook/go to the gym.” “I would change the world but I just don’t have the resources.”

It’s not that our excuses are unfounded. After all, they wouldn’t be effective if they weren’t convincing enough for us to push down the feelings of guilt.

Breaking the Cycle
If we know that fear, guilt and excuses are keeping us from real transformation then we can anticipate them and combat them by creating a new cycle, or writing a new story for ourselves and our life.

1) Identify the change you’d like to see
Are you feeling trapped in your career? Are you unsatisfied with yourself in some way? Do you want to be closer to God? Do you want to do something that deeply impacts others?

You can’t change until you solidly identify the change you want to see. As hard as it is to admit the ways you’d like to transform, you’ve got to spit them out or write them down.

2) Tell someone who loves you
We have to break the cycle of fear. Sometimes, we’re most scared of admitting our desire to change to the people we love because they’re the people who are most likely to know if we fail. Someone who loves you will sacrifice to help you succeed. They will push you forward to your goal and help you be accountable when you slip and fall. Love desires for you to be the best version of yourself and for you to realize the full potential of the gifts you hold.

3) Ask, “what if?”
I am captivated by this question right now and am so thankful to Don Miller for identifying its incredible power. No matter what change you desire, the method of achieving that change will not necessarily be clear. To achieve transformation, you have to open your mind and put everything on the table, asking, “what if…?”

4) Push out the negative
For every “what if?” question you ask, your mind will come up with ten reasons not to do something. These are the excuses you’ve trained yourself to throw at the question to avoid the guilt. For every excuse, ask the question, “What would have to happen to make that excuse go away?” I think that, once you start asking this question, you’ll see that many of your objections are pretty hollow. Others will take some sacrifice to overcome, but most will just fade away.

5) Act
Not tomorrow, today. Act now. Act radically. Take the first step.

Good news and a story of my own
I have a good job. I like doing what I do.

But, I have a desire to challenge others to grow in faith in Christ and in love for His Church. Working a full time job while being a full time husband to my wife and father to my kids doesn’t give me a lot of time to fulfill this desire to write, teach and speak… at least, that’s the excuse I’ve used.

A short while ago, I expressed to Michelle my desire to do more to fulfill this longing in my heart. We started to ask “what if” questions. What if I started a blog? What if I contacted the adult faith formation director at the church and pitched ideas for talks/series? What if I looked at different magazines and approached them about submitting articles? I worked through the objections my mind introduced and began taking action.

To make a long story short, I am pleased to report that I have been commissioned to write an 1800 word, three-page feature article for U.S. Catholic magazine’s September 2010 issue. I will keep the topic under wraps for now, but hope you’ll pray for me as I work on the article this week.

In fact, I should probably be working on it right now, rather than posting to this blog.

Oh well…

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Erin Johnson permalink
    April 14, 2010 1:38 pm

    CHRIS!!!! THAT’S INCREDIBLE!!!! Most def praying for you as you write!!!! Word, yo!

  2. April 16, 2010 11:58 am

    I think you have done a terrific job describing what it truly takes to make effective changes.
    I especially appreciate the parts about guilt, excuses and breaking the cycle. I hadn’t thought about those things before, and I see now that it is important. Thank you for sharing. Congrats on the article. I am encouraged. God bless.

  3. Erin Johnson permalink
    April 19, 2010 7:35 pm

    I quoted this article last night at CHICS….have been thinking alot about it since I read it. I’m working on #2….that accountability can be kinda scary!

    • chris permalink*
      April 19, 2010 8:07 pm

      EJ,

      Thanks so much for your encouragement. I appreciate your comments so very much.

      -CW

  4. Wendy permalink
    May 20, 2010 4:11 pm

    Spot on!!! This is GREAT! Prays for you and the upcoming article! woo hoo!

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