November 2012: Changing Ourselves

Last month I wrote about changing the world. It can be done, bit by bit, if we are willing to change ourselves first, with God's help. So often we are unhappy with ourselves - yet we seem to be unable to change, even if we are willing. It's so hard!

Some people manage to do amazing things - in sports, the arts, in science. Generally, they don't achieve such things just like that - they have learned a skill, then practiced, and practiced, and practiced again to hone it. Bit by bit they achieve mastery of their chosen skill - they don't get it all in one go. We can learn from them in bringing change to our every-day lives.

Whimsical Sky

The first step, of course, is to make a decision: we want to change, this way. Then we need to get help with making the desired change, which often requires a discipline of some sort. If we want to get fit, we go to a gym. To learn a musical instrument, or learn a sport, we find a teacher or coach. To deal with a phobia, we find a psychologist. To address difficulties with meaning and purpose in life, or with finding touches of colour in a too-grey world, a spiritual approach might suit. Some churches offer help with this, such as teaching based on ancient practices like contemplative prayer - a Christian form of meditation.

Unlike technology, spirituality does not change rapidly, but many of the ancient practices have been sadly forgotten or dismissed in large parts of the church. However, they are being re-discovered, and they are important, because they are things we do.The Protestant Churches have perhaps focussed too much on what we give intellectual assent to, rather than what we give our hearts to; but now it is possible to redress the balance, and find a middle way that brings out the best of both.

If we wish to bring change to ourselves and the world, there is an opportunity to make a difference, little by little, through regular prayerful spiritual practice that leads to gradual growth in awareness and tolerance. But don't try this lightly - it's not worth doing if you are not prepared to be disciplined about it every day, no matter what!

Parkdale Church of Christ 2012-18 —A community of faith, hope and compassion.