“How could God do this to ME?” asks my friend who just couldn’t stop cheating on her husband. This was a question unworthy of a response because neither she nor I actually thought God was making her have affairs. However, when she continued on to say that she did not believe that people could fundamentally change – well, now, that’s a subject I can get on a soapbox about!
One benefit of being part of a community is the stories I hear. These stories are rich and nuanced and lived out often over decades, not days. When someone in our community speaks of a changed life it is hard to play the BS card because their life unfolds before our eyes in real time. Everyone knows I don’t have it all together and I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who are honest enough to admit the same of themselves. But that is not equivalent to saying people don’t change. People do change. Sometimes in huge ways, other times in small, uneven, next right steps. There are people who were lost and gone astray from their own core values and who found their way back to themselves and a purposeful, meaningful life. I felt I needed to share that information with my friend or else I might be complicit in leaving her feeling that she had to accept a duplicitous and self-shaming lifestyle. I shared a couple of examples from the lives of people in our community that indicated that change is possible; she ate her dessert, sighed and indicated to me that I just didn’t understand. And she’s right. I don’t know why or how or who might experience freedom from their compulsions and confusing choices that lead to heartache. But my confusion doesn’t keep it from happening. People change.
Sister Monahan says:
“…sober AA members who have been able to stop drinking and to ‘stay stopped,’ as we say, often speak of themselves as ‘chosen,’ of having received sobriety as a gift. I believe that I have indeed received a gift, but my conviction that God loves everyone and desires good for everyone keeps me from thinking of myself as chosen. I simply do not know why I am among those who are fortunate enough to be in recovery.” 1
According to Brene Brown, there are actually skill sets that can help us grow, change, even transform. She likes to call it wholehearted living.
Later I’ll unpack her concept, but for today I invite you to consider this: do you think you are living wholeheartedly or are you just dialing it in? Are you stuck in a giant “sigh” of defeat? Change requires that we start by acknowledging the truth about ourselves. Today, consider if you are satisfied with your life. Why? Why not? What’s unmanageable? What would change if you realized that things could get better?
Molly Monahan. Seeds of Grace: A Nun’s Reflections on the Spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous Riverhead Trade, 2002 ↩