How to Change (and Be the Change)

How to be the change you wish to see in the world, starting with changing yourself.

Randy was a homeless-man-turned-cook that we met while serving food at a local homeless shelter. I was there in my desire for an alternative to church (read about that >> here), and a couple family and friends agreed to join and help make it happen.

When we were done serving the two streams of people and cleaning up, my brother, Nick, talked to Randy as we all threw away our disposable aprons and gathered our coats. Nick asked a little bit of his story and Randy shared about being addicted to alcohol which led to years of homelessness. He wandered and was in and out of shelters never fully getting his act together.

Nick asked what changed. After all of that, how did he finally end up here, cleaned up, and working at the shelter?

Randy looked thoughtful and without hesitation a man from the dish room chimed in, "You just get sick and tired of being sick and tired." Randy nodded and agreed, "I got sick and tired of being sick and tired."

That has stuck with me for the last three years.

Whenever I think about why I just can't seem to get a certain part of my life together--my social media consumption or an area of clutter in the home or my frustration with church and lack of real, authentic community--I think about Randy, and how I just must not be sick and tired enough.

It's pretty motivating. It's led people to diet changes and letting go of the excess in their homes and finding a career they care about and letting go of an addiction they've held tight and finally getting off the streets. It's led countless people to the feet of Jesus saying, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, heal me!"

I've experienced it too. When a pattern in behavior sent me to a counselor for depression. When our stuff felt overwhelming and I decided to simplify. When I was literally tired of being tired and went to the doctor to find I had a deficiency. Change came when the need was real and felt.

What to Do When You're Ready to Change

Being sick and tired of being sick and tired is quite motivating and leads to real, lasting change. If you're not sure how that applies to your desired change or how to make that happen, here's some ideas.

1. Feel the discomfort.

You may know the reasons you should change, but do you really know and feel what's lacking in your life? This often comes naturally by some sort of wake up call. You get a diagnosis from the doctor or you can't do things you used to or you greatly disappoint your loved ones or yourself. You'll know you're feeling the discomfort when you find yourself exclaiming out loud or in your head, "I'm so tired of feeling this way!"

What is making you feel sick and tired?

2. Pray for God's change.

This shouldn't be something we flippantly say and don't do. This is the action above all actions. Pray about your desired change. Pray that God would give you a heart that desires His change for your life. Pray over the areas you're sick and tired and ask Jesus to heal you and change you and strengthen you for the journey ahead.

Do you think God desires this change for your life?

3. Reach out, and get help.

Tell someone. Don't struggle alone. Get an accountability partner, go to a doctor or another professional, join a support group, ask people to pray with and for you. However major or trivial your change may seem, reaching out and getting help is important and necessary. And it is so, so life-giving.

Who could you talk to or even ask for help?

4. Make the choice for better, again and again.

I don't know of anyone that has run a marathon by accident. Chance also doesn't usually lead to decluttered homes, healthy weight loss, productive habits, recovered addictions, successful careers. Anything worth doing takes intention. Not just choosing once at the beginning, but over and over throughout each day. Which is great, because that means a slip-up doesn't mean complete failure. We get the choice to do better next time, often that same day.

What would your desired change look like on a daily basis?

5. Be the change.

I agree with Mahatma Gandhi's sentiment: Be the change you wish to see in the world. Our own change isn't just about feeling better, it's about becoming like Christ and following His lead to love.

When I'm frustrated about stagnant Christianity or American consumerism, I get to be the change. I can be a real, loving Christian with transformed shopping habits. I mean, I can't get myself to put down my phone or lose these last 5 pounds or start a real, authentic small group.

But, sureI can be the change I wish to see in the world. (Note the sarcasm.)

I propose "being the change" starts with a change that's a little closer, a little more personal. It starts with a choice to change our own gunk getting in our way.

Most of us wouldn't choose chaos, clutter, poor health, obesity, resentment, addiction, homelessness. Yet, that's in effect what happens. We don't have to live that way. It may not feel like it, but the choice is ours. Are we sick and tired of our current circumstances? Enough to give in to the hard work of change? That could very well be the breaking point we've been waiting for.

And, who knows, our small, personal changes may very well lead to the change we wish to see in the world.


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