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Friday, April 30, 2010

What I’m Reading Today: Acts 9:19-43

Over the past nine years, I’ve spent a good deal of time talking with couples and families in some degree of crisis and/or transition. From these experiences, I’ve learned something surprising about change as it relates to human beings.

And what is that learning?

Well, I use to believe that the most challenging aspect of change is the way it affects the individual going through the change him or herself. I no longer believe that. What I now believe is that the most challenging aspect of change is the way it impacts those around the person who is going through the change.

Take an individual – like say the husband/father in a family - who has a drinking problem. Over the years, all of the members of the family learn to adopt certain roles that allow the family to function despite the husband/father’s drinking. When the individual stops drinking, the roles of each family member suddenly change. Family members who weren’t drinking have to spend time re-thinking their sense of identity or purpose now that the alcoholic has stopped drinking. This means that instead of joyfully welcoming the change in the alcoholic’s behavior, sometimes that change is met with resistance since it raises many issues for others.

That is much like what happened in today’s passage from Acts. In that passage we had a couple of communities (the Jewish & Christian communities) that got use to knowing how to act in regards to an individual like Saul. Members of the Jewish community sensed they had an ally, and members of the Christian community sensed they had a foe.

When Saul had his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, all bets were off! Saul opened himself to the transformative change. Members of each community, however, were less eager to do so. For many individuals, this sense of resistance from others might have caused them to give up on the change and revert to old behaviors. Thankfully, Saul/Paul had the wherewithal to hang in there and hold to his convictions until those around him caught up.

Today, I would encourage you to look around in your life and see if there might be a loved one who is trying desperately to live into some significant change. If you find such a person in your life, ask yourself, “In what ways am I supporting and/or resisting the change?” The role you play in the process can have a huge say in whether or not the change takes root.

Til next time…

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