Thursday, August 18, 2022

Intentional Change

If we want to be a people who carry both grace and truth, who are good at both mourning and dancing, then the first thing we have to do is figure out where our starting point is. That is, we have to figure out, each of us for ourselves, whether we are a person who tends toward grace or toward truth, toward mourning or toward dancing. 

There are some who say that this is just a matter of thinking before we speak, of figuring out what is about to come out of our mouths (and thus, out of our hearts) and choosing whether that is the thing that we want to say or not. And then, figuring out if that's the kind of thing that we always say and what we might want to say in this situation that would be different. 

I think that's a great aspiration, but it's unrealistic. I don't think that's the way that change happens for most of us. I don't think we are, in general, a people who are naturally able to remember to think while we're thinking and before we speak. That's something we have to train into ourselves.

So I think the best way to go about this, the way that is more likely to bring meaningful results for most of us, is to think after we speak. 

We need to get in the habit of going back through our day and thinking about the ways that we responded to situations that arose. What did we say and to whom and when and why? What were we thinking in our hearts? Did we have any other thoughts in there that we could have chosen, but didn't? If so, why didn't we choose them? If not, what might another thought have been?

Christians have been doing this sort of thing spiritually for a long time - it's called the examen. It's the process of getting into the habit of reviewing your day, looking for God in it, looking for sacred moments, recognizing all of the things that you might not have noticed in the moment and remembering the ones that you did with gratefulness. 

We can do the same sort of thing with our own hearts - recognizing all of the things we might not have noticed in the moment and remembering the ones that we did notice. And then, we can start seeing what our own patterns are start thinking about what kind of person we're coming across as. 

Then, from there, we can start looking at those same moments and figuring out what they might have looked like if we had chosen grace instead of truth or truth instead of grace, whichever way we tend to lean. We can imagine how our day might have been different if we had done more mourning or more dancing. We can start imagining what our lives look like with a better balance of these things that God has called us to have in their own time, but that He has ordained that we must have both. 

Once that imagination takes hold, it starts shaping our moment-to-moment. We start just naturally thinking at any given time what grace or truth might look like here. We start catching ourselves at the start of mourning or dancing and considering whether that's really what we want to do or not or whether that's just our default. We start imagining in time how time might look different depending on what we do with our next breath. 

And slowly, we become the kind of persons God called and created us to be - mourners and dancers, full of grace and truth. 

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