In a book that I’m currently reading states a subtitle: “Change is a process”. As I read this title I remember several moments I desperately prayed to God to let a ‘change’ happen in my life. I cried and wished that I would turn into somebody different in an instant – somebody I would love better than how I loved myself at that time, somebody who wouldn’t be so much disappointment as I was at that moment.
I often wondered why God didn’t change me overnight. I did try, and I did ask. I often wondered why He let me be that way. Why He didn’t change me into someone He would want me to be?
More than 20 years later from those nights, here I am now living my life with actually a lot of changes compared to what I was 20 years ago. The changes were so radical that if these two versions of myself would meet with each other, I don’t think they would ever guess that’s how I would turn out.
In a way, I have left behind a lot of negative traits I used to have, but in the other way – especially when I became a mother, I seemed to develop other bad habits or bad characteristics, especially in the way I manage my emotions.
But I clearly see now, that change is indeed a process. The change in me is a very long and winding process through many special and happy times, difficult situations, meeting the right and wrong people, saying and hearing bad or good thoughts… all things were used by God in the shaping of my heart, my soul, my personality, my all.
I do realise though that the level of trust and submission to God determines how fast the process of change is. How much I obey God decides how fast I return to the track He has prepared in shaping and forming me as His plans.
This reminds me of my children and how I often feel that they are stuck in their current level of learning. Like how it still takes so much time for them to finish their meals, despite thousands of warnings and instruction or even punishment – still they tend to play, or talk too much during the meal time. Or how much time they take whenever we are preparing to go to bed, how one time instruction is never enough, how they are not as obedient as I hope them to be, how I wished they would understand faster, better, now, instantly, this very minute, this very moment!
But again change is a process. I remember my son, 5 years ago, just when he entered the basisschool, he still couldn’t speak clearly, even in our own language. The old school of his has questioned his IQ, doubted his ability to continue his education in a regular school, and suggested we take him to a special school instead.
And here my son is now, still surviving the 4th year in his new school (still a regular school), sitting in the advanced group in his class, playing piano from his heart, and far from showing a sign of a child with a low IQ.
To get to this point, he had to go through many therapies in these 5 years. Many practices, many exercises to learn to talk, to convey his emotions, to work out his feelings, to connect with others. It was no easy road, going through many treatments and still being responsible to all his needs, taking him to all places for his therapy sessions, enduring his endless tantrums, reading for him books and books with only half of my vocal cords.
But by the grace of God and by His love and His mercy, my son grew up so well, so different from what he had been. All the efforts we put into his growth paid off and he turned to what we hope as a better life.
This little story of my son serves as a gentle reminder for myself, that change does take time. Change goes through a process. Though God can and is able to change things overnight, He mostly does the change through a series of many things happening in our lives. He doesn’t take a magic stick and says His hocus pocus mantra, He’s not a God of instant noodles, He’s a God who changes us through process. Because He wants a result that lasts.
Change towards goodness means growth. We see children grow, we see them getting bigger from week to another week. But it’s impossible for us to see when exactly the process takes place. My mom often told me, “I always wonder when did you grow. Is it in the night? Is it when you’re sleeping? How come you suddenly become bigger and taller?”
I never see myself when my children are growing. From the fatty baby to the plump toddler, and then they became longer and slimmer. I never really see when the new teeth grow, never really see the hair become longer. I don’t see every millimeter of molecular growth, but I do see the change. I also don’t see every tiny bit of data going into their memory of things they should learn as a child, but I do see they become smarter, and they know more things every single day.
But only when we nurture them well, this process of change could go towards goodness. When we fail to take care of them, when we neglect them, they change too, and it takes process too, but they will change into something we don’t hope for.
As I learn about this and understand this more, I become reminded that I have to be patient towards God (who leads the process) and towards myself (in the process of the change of me), or towards my children (in their process of change). No growth will happen in the count of my fingers, it takes time and process.
And only being nurtured in the grace and knowledge of God, I (and my children) can change towards the better version of ourselves.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
2 Peter 3: 18 NIV