All people want to be better people.
That may be a personal conviction and a naive one at that. However, I believe it nonetheless.
It’s hard to imagine that you, reader, woke up this morning and concluded: “Today, I want to be horrible at living my life. I want to fail miserably at everything I attempt, and I’m willfully going to try and hurt as many people as possible, including myself, while making mistakes.”
“You’ve never met my boss,” some people quip. Others point to psychotic gunmen who have taken innocent lives or the extreme cases of despot megalomaniacs throughout history. Still, I contend that while malcontent is such people’s final condition, it was not always their entire condition.
As life teaches us all, we understand that our outward behavior is not always emblematic of our interior disposition. Said more simply, we aren’t always what we appear. The woman cutting in her bathroom is not hellbent on tormenting herself so much as she is assuaging the inner pain of a far more profound wound. The husband filled with rage is not convinced his spouse is the enemy so much as he is tired of battling the enemy he finds within himself. On the other hand, the woman at the checkout line may not be as happy as she lets on, and the do-gooder at a nonprofit organization may not actually believe in what he or she is ‘selling.’ Humans are not complicated, but we are complex.
While Augustine may have contended for original sin, God still made all creation good. Therefore, goodness is something we desire, even when we are at our worst. But goodness can often be the hardest thing for us to acquire. So while all people want to be better people, not every person knows how to be a better person.
Let me place all my cards on the table: I write to encourage and inspire you to lead a Godly life. That is, a life which reflects the lifestyle and nature of God-incarnate, Jesus Christ.
Contrary to many self-improvement blogs, mine is uniquely Christian in its worldview. This religious aspect of my work may not suit you. I respect that. I suspect, however, that you will still find a good portion of what I write to be helpful. So I ask that you weed through what doesn’t resonate with you in the hopes of finding what does.
For those who understand my religious premise, I suspect that much of what I share will be encouraging both for its behavioral help as well as its spiritual implications. Similarly, however, I request that you not expect my writings to be flat-out Christian devotionals so much as personal reflections about life-living.
How do we start being better at being human? It begins with a two-part confession, if you will, and it requires some authentic self-awareness. Try saying the following two points out loud in your apartment, on the bus, or while you’re on a walk, just do so while being honest with yourself and for yourself.
“I need to be better than I am.”
The first step is to acknowledge that you’re not where you want to be. Whether this is for your spouse, for your children or grandchildren, or just for you, change begins with an admission of deficiency. In some cases, your deficiency may be obvious to all; in others, you may appear perfect on the outside but frustrated on the inside. The admission of a need to change, however, resonates with either condition.
“I want to be better than I am.”
The second step is to realize you actually want the things that you don’t presently have to make the changes you need. Why? Because we are smarter than we give ourselves credit for, and if you already knew and had enough, you’d have changed by now. People don’t stay where they are because they enjoy suffering; we stay where we are because we don’t know what to do next.
Tomorrow’s questions can wait, but mark your calendar today. Put it in your journal, in Evernote, or on a Sticky-Note, and say, “Today I recognize that I need to change and I want to change.”
Whether it’s gaining wisdom to unlock a needed change or acquiring a resource to implement it, each of us is looking for what we don’t yet possess. Therefore, we find comfort when pursuing new lines of thinking and new ways of being that provoke us to be the person we sense we were created to be.
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