I have a fortune cookie that sits on my desk:
“Everyone loves progress yet no one likes change.“
How true is that!
We like to feel safe and secure. We like our walls solid, our locks working and our rules clear and unchanging.
Yet, we also crave growth and renewal. Some in our economy define a “failing” company as one that isn’t growing as fast the investors expect it to grow.
We want to be a part of a growing community of faith, but we resist every change that comes along that might further that vitality.
An impossible dream indeed.
How do we move past this impassible door?
We don’t have to look any further than our own perspectives to see the impasse. Our search for security closes our hearts to change.
In the Hebrew Bible we see the people of Egypt hit by 10 devastations because the heart of the Pharaoh was stubborn and resistant to change (Exodus 7:13, Exodus 8:32, Exodus 11:9-10) The Psalms describe the rebellious people of God as people with hard hearts (Psalm 95:8-9).
Hard and closed hearts interfere with God wanting to be with us and work within us.
Our bodies know this truth. One major source of heart disease is called occlusion: a calcification, narrowing, and closing off of the blood vessels of the heart. Once that process begins, it is hard to reverse.
Spiritually a hard heart can stifle our faith’s journey. Physically, a hard heart will kill us.
Fortunately for us, hard spiritual hearts can be healed.
The Hebrew prophets also give us an image of hope: A vision of God’s desire to work within us.
But now, Lord, you are our father.
We are the clay, and you are our potter.
All of us are the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8 CEB).
Consider the potter. No matter how skilled the craftsman, if the clay is hard and unmoving, nothing can be done to bring the vision of the artist to life.
We need soft hearts that are open to God’s changes that bring us vital and renewed living. This is true for individuals as well as communities of faith.
We have to be soft in order to be alive.
The body can help us in this task. We might not be able to directly control the hardness of our spiritual hearts, but we can take advantage of the connection between our bodies and our spiritual hearts.
Let me introduce you to the path of soft hands and soft face.
When I am resistant to change, I notice that the muscles in my face and in my hands get tense and hard. My jaw and forehead clenches and my hands become rigid. My breathing also becomes shallow.
When I catch myself doing this I focus for a moment on letting my hands and face become soft. I invite them into a state of relaxation. The amazing thing is that as I find my hands and face growing softer, I notice that I am more open to what is going on around me and what I can learn from it.
- I can listen more compassionately to the person sharing from their lives.
- I become free of the anxiety that wants to close my heart to their experience.
- I can more easily learn a technique that frustrates me.
- With that softness, I am open to be transformed.
Fully Dimensional Living does bring risk.
When we lower our defenses we risk getting hurt. Our fear of vulnerability (real or imagined) leads us to put up barriers. But if the walls are destroying the abundant life we yearn for, what is the point?
We may feel less safe and more afraid, but we are more available to life.
Daily we face this truth: if we truly want progress in our lives, that is, a present that leads into a good future, then we have to accept our fears and embrace the reality of the changes that need to come.
This is true within our personal lives, our families, our communities of faith, our towns, and our world.
We have to love progress and love change.
Remembering that change happens in our lives no matter how much we resist it, where is your resistance to change being triggered?
What routines of action or attitude have you built up that bring you comfort, but also could be blocking God’s work within you?
How can we help?