What’s the secret to being content in your own skin? Is it being able to adjust to any situation; not being bothered by anything; or something else altogether?
Many people adjust to changes in their lives by developing a routine to incorporate the change into their lives and then allowing the routine to provide a peace/sense of security about the change/situation.
But, if not careful, you can unwittingly start avoiding ANY change/situation that might interfere with your routine because it’s your routine that provides your sense of peace/security. In other words, you stop trying anything “new”. Routine becomes the grid by which all of life is experienced and you will fight tooth and nail to maintain your routines EVEN if it means avoiding many new life experiences.
Some might think this is not logical as everyone likes to experience new things and the myriad of life’s diverse opportunities. But contrary to what most of us think, “man” is not primarily logical/rational but rather makes the majority of his decisions on the basis of feelings and beliefs. So if the grid for processing change is to make it a routine, then anything that interrupts the routine and makes one feel uneasy, out of control may eventually be avoided. Then, life may seem peaceful,safe but is it really living or just going through the motions, walking the routine?
If routine becomes the mechanism for processing change and experiencing peace but at the cost of not trying new things, then perhaps it’s not so much a vehicle for processing change/peace as it is trying to control our fear of change, experiences. And what does it say about our belief in a sovereign God who isn’t surprised by the circumstances, opportunities that come our way but in fact so orchestrates them. Many of us pray that God would remove the very life circumstances He’s using to mature, grow us.
How, then, do we guard against falling prey to dealing with change by incorporating it into our routines and develop lifestyles that are open to change/challenges that God uses as tools for maturing us and helping us grow? Perhaps that’s why so many biblical characters had to leave home, break from their routines, comfort zone, to be used of God. Think of it, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Isaac, David, Jesus, the 11 disciples, Paul and many many others left home before they started their most significant life work.
When we think about Jesus’ life, He was not a man of routines. He started each day talking with the Father but not because it was a routine, but rather because He loved the Father and wanted to draw close to Him. Jesus only and always did what the Father was doing and the Father did little that we’d call routine. Jesus walked through life facing whatever challenge came His way but always with the Father’s agenda as His primary focus. Many of us think we’d love to live like that but would we really? Could we handle the myriad of challenging situations and people that would come our way but now without our “routines” to process them by?
In fact, much of our growth and maturation starts with our facing, dealing with the challenges that life has a way of throwing at us. That’s why Jesus challenged us to renew our minds (Romans 12: 2) which starts between our ears as man is not primarily rational but in fact reacts to situations on the basis of his/her unconscious beliefs and emotions (how we feel). Therefore, changing how we think/react is every bit as important as what we think. Psychology calls these unconscious feelings and beliefs our “core beliefs”. Consequently, these are the 2 areas of our lives that we should focus our attention as our starting point to renewing our minds. Unfortunately, many of us are unaware that we have unconscious feelings and beliefs about ourselves that shape and mold how we feel about ourselves and the world and are the unconscious basis for the choices and decisions we make. And further complicating the problem is, unfortunately, in many cases our core beliefs are simply wrong, in fact a lie.
Think for a moment about what you say to yourself/call yourself when you make a mistake, mess up? For example, imagine you are a traveling sales person and are directionally challenged. Consequently, you are lost much of the time and may lose your temper and say to yourself something like “you stupid idiot” as you’re banging your fist on the steering wheel. Therefore, on a subconscious level you think you are stupid though you probably never really thought about it or would consciously admit it. You determine your “core belief” by tracing this feeling of fear back to its starting point. What do you fear most? In this particular example it could be something like “I’ll never amount to anything”; “I’m such a loser”; “I’m good for nothing”. That is your “core belief” and these unconscious beliefs operate automatically and result in the decisions, choices we make. In other words, we are unconsciously reacting to situations and choices on the basis of a lie, “you’ll never amount to anything”. Following this example one step further, imagine someone is talking to someone behind your back about you and your siblings and says something like your older brother is the only one in your family who ever amounted to anything. You would probably be quite angry, upset (actually unconsciously fearful that he may be right) since it is consistent with the lie, your “core belief”, that you unconsciously feel/believe about yourself.
So the challenge we each face is to determine what our “core belief” is which we unconsciously believe/feel about ourselves and REPLACE it with the truth about who we really are for it’s the truth that sets us free (John 8: 32). God’s word says that if you are a disciple of Christ you are part of a “chosen people, a royal priesthood….” (1 Peter 2: 9); can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4: 13); are a child of the most high God (John 1:12); an image bearer of God Himself (Genesis 1: 27); will do even greater things than Jesus did (John 14: 12); and on and on. So we need to remove from our unconscious this lie that we’ll never amount to anything and replace it with the truth of Whose we are which we’ll explore further in future blogs.