It’s easy enough to say we need to be patient with the process. To talk about the benefits of weaknesses. To extol the virtues of embracing who we really are.
But I think we all know why we are in such a hurry to change.
Because mistakes hurt. They are painful, embarrassing, and messy.
That’s the nature of mistakes, and I think that’s the number-one motivator for change.
And I know, spiritually speaking, our motivation for change should be to please God.
On an idealistic level, that is true. That is noble. And if that’s how you live, you are incredible. I applaud you.
But if we are honest, most of us don’t change until we have to. Until our frustration with the way things are reaches a boiling point. Until none of the pants in our closet fit. Until we’ve run ourselves so ragged that we’re paying the price in our health and relationships. Or until our issues have created enough isolation to bring us back to ourselves. It’s called learning the hard way, and it’s a universal human pattern.
Sometimes we interpret the pain of our mistakes as punishment from God. I don’t see it that way. I think the pain of our mistakes can actually be a gift to help us realize our potential for change.
Why do you think God wants us to make those changes in the first place? It’s more about us than about him. And while it’s true that God wants us to glorify him and reflect him accurately, he isn’t a capricious despot. He doesn’t need us to measure up to a standard of perfection in order to feel good about himself as God.
God knows certain things will suck the life out of us. They will hurt us. They will hurt people around us. They will hurt our relationship with him.
So he calls them sin, and he enables us to stop doing them.
Let’s get this straight. God doesn’t ask us to change because it adds anything to him. It’s not for his benefit that we get our lives together.
It’s for ours. The obedience and holiness he asks from us are for our well-being and the well-being of those around us.
I think we can all agree that sin confuses and complicates our lives. It causes us to lose ground, lose face, and lose out. Mistakes are, by our definition anyway, bad.
No wonder we try so hard to reverse and eliminate them. We make New Year’s resolutions. We join a CrossFit box. We go back to school. We watch TED Talks.
We are convinced that a failure-free existence is just around the corner. If we want it bad enough, if we try hard enough, if we study diligently enough, if we strain and strive and push long enough, we will arrive. We will overcome our weaknesses, and we will finally be happy.
But that never happens.
I don’t mean we never improve. Of course we do. That’s one of the perks of being human. We have a massive amount of control over who we become and what we accomplish. We just never arrive as we think we will. We strive and make progress, and that is briefly rewarding, but then there is more work to be done.
And often our improvements don’t make us as happy as we hoped.
Ironically, the more we fix ourselves, the more we become aware of how much we still have left to fix. It’s the paradox of perfection. Paradise seems so close, yet it always stays on the horizon, tempting and taunting us. So we sell out to self-improvement, and years down the road we wonder why we still aren’t happy.
Yes, we should strive to be the best possible version of ourselves. But we need to realize that self-improvement in and of itself doesn’t produce happiness. Fewer failures don’t always equate with a more satisfied life.
Why? Because our weaknesses are not necessarily the source of our unhappiness. Therefore, perfection is not the cure.
Change is good. Change is necessary. Change is inevitable.
But change for the sake of change is overrated.
Excerpted from (Un)Qualified by Steven Furtick Copyright © 2015 by Steven Furtick. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.