THE NEW YEAR provides some with the renewed desire to attempt some change in their lives.
We may promise to look after ourselves better by losing weight and exercising more or achieve a better work-life balance. Others may work on improving their relationship with their spouses or with their teenage children.
In counselling, I often see clients who come wanting to attempt some major change in their lives. More often than not, it involves efforts to rebuild a marriage after a major crisis. For many, the desire for, and attempts, at making changes are not their first. They have experienced the bitter disappointment of failure and with this, the loss of confidence of their loved ones. To these individuals, the verse, “Behold, all things have become new” (1Cor 5:17) is one they desperately want to cling to.
Just how do all things become new? Here are some thoughts I would like to offer on the subject of change which accompany the power of prayer.
Firstly, individuals need to change for the right reasons. I recall a husband who rattled off all the reasons why he should give up watching pornography and visiting prostitutes. However, I could not help feeling that he was simply attempting change to try to save his marriage. As important as this reason is, it is not enough. I did not get the sense that he felt what he was doing was wrong. He was attempting change to placate his wife, not to attempt to have a right relationship with himself and with his God.
Secondly, one needs to determine to break free from the past. The Bible uses the analogy of a runner who lays aside any unnecessary weight or impediment. For the man who determines to end an illicit relationship, it means stopping all contact with the third party and deleting all messages on one’s phone and computer. For the addict of pornography, it means deleting all bookmarked sites and limiting all personal use of the computer to times when the family is present.
Thirdly, feeling remorseful or desiring change and stopping old habits is again not enough to bring about change. One needs a plan to change things for the better. Clear actionable steps need to be thought through and acted upon, one item at a time. Many who struggle with addictions, for example, to smoking or are trying to break free from some bad habit, know this. For these individuals, change is one step at a time. Relapses do happen and when they do, one picks oneself up and resumes the slow journey to recovery.
Fourthly, be accountable to and solicit the help of friends and loved ones who can cheer you on. Change is not a flip of the switch. It is more like a marathon run. Having supporters along the way reminds us why change is important and helps us find our “second wind”.
Benny Bong is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church, is a family and marital therapist.