The Battle of Change

We all want to be better in one way or another… Right?

Well one thing is for sure,
The change in yourself that you want to see, and that you know you need, begins with You and ends with You.

It begins with you because you have to make the decision to make the changes that you want to see.
It ends with you because you, again, have to make the decision to remain committed to maintaining the changes that you have made, in order for them to become a permanent part of your life.

So, it begins and ends with you… But then there’s this part in-between.

The people in your life, and their perception, acceptance and supportiveness towards the change.

So to first clear things up, I agree with you! We live to please God and not man, therefore the issue of whether people want to accept or believe in our change or not, shouldn’t really matter.
But the truth is that for some (if not all) of us, ‘the people’ will have a massive effect on the longevity of the change.

So let’s discuss that, because on this journey to a ‘better us’, we will encounter a variety of people… Here are 4 categories…

1 – People who will ridicule the fact that you even want to change in the first place;
‘You?! You’ll never change, you’ll always be…’
They’ll chuckle at the fact that you could dare to think that you would ever get out of whatever cycle you’re in.
They’ll write you off and deem your change as impossible, and that will be all that matters to them.
They’ll continue to invite you to old places, to do old things and some will simply mock/disrespect your decisions to avoid certain things.
They will have no regard for your change at all.

Friend, though painful in some instances, you will need to separate yourself from these people.
They have the potential to cause severe damage to your journey, especially during the early season when the change is fresh, therefore you have to be bold, and break the link, or distance yourself, in order to make the first set of moves forward – in the right direction.

2 – People who will despise your change and never get past the old you;
Most of the people described above will also fall into this category.
But others will actually start off here, because they won’t dispute the fact that you could desire a change, however, mentally they can never get past the you they used to know.
These people will actually begin to see the difference, but will take every opportunity to remind you of where you’re coming from.
They’ll sometimes speak ill of you to others who become impressed by your new nature, and will make references to who you used to be, as ‘the real you‘.

Now friend you mustn’t take their lie as your truth. Unfortunately they’ll fail to grasp the fact that the old you died with Christ, and by His grace and resurrection, you have every right to live anew and be a new creation. (Romans 6:5-7)
That – is your truth – you are entitled and allowed to be a new creation in Christ. And the new creation, shall be the real you forever (in Jesus’ name, Amen).

3 – People who will lose faith in you if you fall;
They didn’t knock the fact that you wanted to rise and be better, but they’re easily discouraged and will lose faith in your journey if at all you slip up or fall back.
Though they care enough to have believed in you at the start, they kind of slide into a watered down version of the second category of people.
Your ‘mistake’ plants an element of doubt in them and they struggle from then onwards to take your change seriously or give you another chance.
Now I’m not repeating myself by introducing these people – I want you to know that it is extremely important for you not to exhaust your energy trying to win them back; win their trust back, win their belief back.

The bible says ‘by their fruits, you shall know them’ – Matthew 7:16-20.
What does this mean for you in this context?
It means that your effort and hard work ought to go into making sure you get back on the road to the new you, not into tirelessly trying to prove yourself.
It means that you should focus on tapping into the grace of God which will enable you to walk right, and walk consistently in your desired new path.
It means that you trust that gradually, they’ll see the fruits of someone who truly wants to change, improve, and be better. And so some of them after seeing the fruits of your effort, will become part of your support system, and will later fully believe in you.

Notice that you aren’t initially disregarding their feelings, and saying ‘whatever man’, but you simply realise that their doubt, and continuous reference back to the fact that ‘you fell backwards that time‘, could become a hinderance to your confidence and belief, in yourself and in the the fact that this change is truly possible at all.

4 – People who will encourage you, and want to see the change as much as (or even more sometimes) than you do;
These people will support you.
They want to see you win in, and with your change.
They’ll understand the ‘why‘ of your decision to improve yourself, and they’ll remind you of this even when you want to stop caring about it all.
They’ll already see a greater potential for you with the change, and so their minds are ready to correctly perceive and accept you through every stage of the process.
The next line may be obvious but it’s the simple truth –
You’ve got to surround yourself with these people… Keep them close.
They will serve as mentors, advisors, cheerer-uppers, picker-uppers and so many more things that will add salt, light and favour to your journey by the grace of God. These are the people sent by God to enable the perfect manifestation of your change.
These are the people God sends to ensure that you TRIUMPH over the Battle of Change.

So before we go, let us note a few more key things…

Good Change is Amazing; we can gather from Romans 6:1-4 that it is important for us, and pleasing to God, for us to put things right when we see that they aren’t, and therefore ‘walk in newness of life‘!
So I want you to definitely Embrace your Change.
Without a doubt, the people around us do play a massive part in the outcome of our change, but we must Always stay Determined to do what we set out to do!

Here’s my prayer for you;

I pray that God will open the eyes of your understanding, to see the things in your life that need to turn to Christ.
I pray that the courage required to take the first step to change, God will grant onto you.
I pray that every person that will lead to you being discouraged, and every attitude that will be detrimental to your journey, God will give you the discerning spirit to notice them and therefore walk away from them. Where applicable, He Himself will remove them!
I pray that God will bless your path with the people who will motivate, encourage, bless, uplift and assist you in your change.
I pray that once transformed, you will not become judgmental towards those struggling in areas similar to your past, but rather your journey will then become a testimony and a strength which you use to bring more people to a new life in Christ, by the Grace of God.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen

As God is for you, no one can succeed in being against you! (Romans 8:31)
So Believe in your Change, and Keep Going!

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing,
God Bless you.

Another Shot?

No, not that kind of shot!
I mean do you want to have another go/try/chance/opportunity at the thing you said you’d do in 2017?

Yes? Great!

Well firstly, let’s evaluate – how did January go for you?
Before we take steps to fix something, we have to know what’s wrong with it, so I want us to honestly assess the month of January in terms of the goals we set for ourselves.
Let us look at:

  • What went well?
  • What could have been better?
  • Ways to improve.

We all walked into the New Year with dreams, goals, good intentions and aspirations, but we’re on day 32, and without a doubt, a lot has happened.

Some things you won’t have bargained for may have popped up and distracted you or thrown you off your tracks.
People (sometimes the closest ones to you) may have discouraged you and made you feel like ‘you will never change’.
Circumstances may have simply not permitted it.

Does this mean, we should just give up?
No way!
Let us be courageous, ignore what people have said, shake off our emotions, stop feeling sorry for ourselves and Try Again.

Let’s read Romans 6. This isn’t to say that we’re all trying to change from a particular sin, but let us take context from it.

It tells us that in becoming aware of something that isn’t right, we shouldn’t just continue in that way, hoping that we can enjoy God’s grace, despite doing what we know is wrong and requires a change. Rather, we must rid ourselves of it. We should desire to become a new creation, because Christ has enabled this by dying for us. He allows us to be saved from our old ways and no longer be a slave to sin, addiction or any bad habit that we may have had!

Equally for those of us who decided that this year we wanted to take up a positive task, the bible tells us not to get tired of doing good;

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
[Galatians 6:9]

So we’re all on the same page about trying again, whether we’re trying to move away from something, or take on a new task/service – it doesn’t matter if January didn’t go to plan, we have the chance to start afresh. Right now!

Let’s head back to our evaluation questions.

What went well? When we’re looking at this question, let us look properly, because some of us are really hard on ourselves.
I want you to identify times when you achieved aspects of your goal or in fact succeeded in doing what you said you would do or not do (e.g. be on time to church, or not argue with a friend/parent/spouse). Acknowledge that you did well here, and expand on it… Look at the details of what happened in that instance to allow the occurrence of your desired outcome, make a note of it and then replicate it each time you get the chance. This way, you’re moving closer to consistently reaching your goals.

What could have been better? Pay attention to the fact that this doesn’t ask you for what was bad, because asking for what was bad simply points it out and leaves it in the air (#unhelpful).
However, when you’re looking at what could have been better, done better, said better etc, the idea is that you identify areas where you may have tried less, or fallen back into the old habit and again, you should explore why it could have happened. Then create practical steps that will help ensure that you avoid it happening again.

Example: I barged a woman on my way to university because I was in a rush, but my goal was to be more polite and calm when using public transport.

Going back, I’ll evaluate that I woke up late, and that was because I slept late the night before, so I was in a rush in the morning, which made me grumpy already, and meant that I was charging through the station and not in the mood to even apologise to someone I pushed.

Yes, this will take a good amount of thought-processing, but the idea is to eliminate things that will cause us to do what we don’t want to do. Or even prevent us from doing good.

Now, in expanding on what went well and what could have been better, we have already looked at some ways that we could improve on working towards our goals,
But let’s look at a few more key Ways to improve

The first thing I want us to do is be serious about trying again.
In fact that may have been your issue from the start – that you didn’t really believe in what you were doing.

Well look, first step – take it seriously.

That means;

  • Don’t premeditate failure
  • Don’t create sub-standards for ‘just in case’
  • And don’t make fun of it! – (Some of us make a joke of our goals, probably as a defence mechanism in case they don’t work out – that’s not good enough).

We must truly believe in what we want to do and in fact the best thing is to put God right at the centre of it, because the bible tells us that in whatever we plan, it is God that directs/establishes our footsteps;

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.”
[Proverbs 16:9].

In addition to this, we can ask for help and accountability from those around us (the right people), but above all, ask God for direction and guidance.

Ask Him to first clarify the vision/goal/dream/desire. Tell Him that you want to see it clearly, so you’re able to know exactly what you’re going to do with it.

When you get the answer, Write It Down… Write out your goal as you’ve been inspired to fulfil it.

In Habakkuk 2:2-3, God describes the power that there is in scribing a vision, He says two things that we can take and apply to writing our goals – when we write them clearly, we will know exactly what we want to do, and also though it may not happen immediately, we should have faith that it will certainly take place.
Therefore write it down clearly, put it somewhere you can see it.
Put it somewhere accessible so you can always refer back to it.

Also when resetting these goals, I want us to aspire to achieve the best version of it. So as I mentioned, no sub-standards, and no short-lived goals (e.g. I’ll see if I can give up smoking for a month first) – No, I want us to run with the biggest version of the vision, then intricately plan towards how we will get there step by step.

Rather than think small to start off with and then settle if things don’t work out, saying ‘It was only meant to be for a month anyway’,
Think big, then plan towards it, and with God as your guide, you will surely get there.

I mustn’t end this message without saying congratulations and well done to the people who have stuck to their New Year plans – I pray for a continued strength for you month after month, year after year, and I pray that whatever you have given up or taken up, will remain as it ought to be in order to always please the Most High God, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

One thing we should all remember is that even if today doesn’t go to plan, let us not wait until next month, or next year to give it another shot.
Each new day provides a new grace and a fresh opportunity for us to get it right.
So friend, please keep going with your dreams and visions, and no matter how long it takes, keep working hard to become the best version of you there is!

I’m rooting for you, and praying for you.

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing
God Bless you.