Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a time of reflection and cleansing; a day of fasting and trying to correct failings. As Jewish friends prepared for this day, I too, reflected on needed change.
I like reading a blog called Beneath the Wings, written by a woman living in Israel.
She wrote last week, "Our sages tell us that true repentance is being faced with the same situation you failed in, and doing properly the next time."I've been thinking about that; trying to be conscious when I faced those moments in which I habitually fail, to, "do properly," or "differently," this time.It helps to think of needed change that way.
Susan and I were talking about that definition of true repentance, and she said, "Yes, that's actually the opposite of the well known definition of insanity, 'Doing the same thing and expecting a different result."
I had some thoughts on prerequisites for change:
First, face the truth of whatever pattern of behaviour is tripping you up. Wearing a girdle two sizes too small is more comfortable than doing this. I heard someone say this week that learning never occurs in comfort. I've found that to be true.
Lay down the temptation to justify, excuse or blame others. There is no way forward unless you do.
Respond to the truth with confession and repentance, turning away from the past and towards a different reality with new patterns.
Think through, with the help of the Holy Spirit, whatever part you had in the failure and ask God to help by living his life through you. He will.
Watchman Nee writes that all lasting change is made in us by God, as we, "Walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh," (Galatians 5:16) He says that all self effort is futile and is a falling into the old pattern of living under the law.
I'm so glad it is not about trying harder, but about reflection, taking responsibility, prayer, and God's life in us being lived out in new ways.
I have a need for God's life to transform mine in so many areas and these I hold up to him today:
Selfish overspending--I ask for wise stewardship
Overeating--I ask for gratitude and satisfaction with enough
All too often, a smallness and meanness of heart--I ask for his kindness
Dallying and squandering time in the Land of Distractions--I ask for discipline, focus and his agenda in my life to prevail
Joel 2:13 (New International Version)
13 Rend your heartand not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.