The power to change
Some things cannot be changed. Oh yes, that’s just the way it is. Some things will never change. Or at least we cannot change them. Take, for example, pretty much everything that occurred during the previous month.
Which is to say, that February 2015 has now come to an end. Twenty-eight days quickly came and went. And this period of time will never be back. What happened, whether it was good or bad or otherwise, is all over now. It’s finished, done, final. We all know that searching for a magical rewind button in order to change whatever took place, in this awkward or perhaps that terrible situation, is a waste of time and a ridiculous thing to do.
Often there are more opportunities to make a difference than we realize
So baring the invention of a time machine, the past is one obvious example of something in your life and mine that cannot be changed. But there are many others. Consider a very serious health situation. Hopefully we won’t have to anytime soon. But then again, we might. People deal with these kinds of issues everyday.
Here in Canada, thankfully quite often treatments are readily available for any number of health issues. A pill can be produced or a change of diet makes a difference. But for everyone who is alive, there will come a time when it is no longer possible to stay alive. Cancer eventually strikes or another terminal disease set in. And when that happens, no doctor or nurse will be able to do anything. For any number of reasons, our bodies wear out and break down. I don’t like to think about it and probably neither do you. But death is always just around the corner.
When it’s our turn to die, money won’t make a difference. Race and nationality will seem irrelevant. Status and success will fade from view. On that day, as health and vitality begins to face, our attention will be focused on one glaring reality: Life as we know it will soon come to an end.
And yes, you are very welcome for this pleasant reminder of your impending personal doom.
But the main purpose of this post is to point out that many things can be changed. This is easy to forget. The situation you have in mind may not change automatically or without an incredible amount of effort. But positive change is often possible. It is necessary to be regularly reminded of this and especially when facing challenging times.
Looking around, it may occasionally seem like very little can be changed. Realistically, there might not be much in the way of immediate hope on the horizon. Possibly someone reading this presently feels trapped and powerless. But despite all the things you can’t do, try to identify what you can do.
Here are a number of situations that quickly come to time:
1. I can’t force anyone to visit this website. But I can try to provide valuable content.
2. I can’t become good at everything. But I can become good at something.
3. I can’t fix what is wrong with this world. But I can fix a very small part of it.
4. I can’t control how others respond to me. But I can try to control how I respond to them.
5. I can’t reach my goals today. But I can take the next small step.
Personally, I find this exercise to be very helpful. Out of curiosity, what would you include on your list? It goes without saying that this idea certainly isn’t original with me. A certain prayer by Francis of Assisi may come to mind for many. But unfortunately, bad theology (among other things) can still kick in at this point and block this exercise from ever taking place.
While this might not describe your situation, some people believe that God directly controls everything and that there is very little room in His universe for human freedom and creativity. To be honest, I sometimes really wish that this was true. For the amount of suffering that takes place because of the large-scale abuse of human freedom can sometimes feel like too much to bare. As well, then nothing much would be expected of us other than to do what we had already been programmed to do. Then life would easy, dull but easy.
But real life doesn’t work that way.
There are real choices that need to be made and real consequences to deal with. Yes, God is ultimately in control. But our input is required. For now, the exact relationship between human freedom and God’s will largely remains a mystery. But in the meantime, don’t underestimate the power you have been given to creatively change your situation and make a positive difference in this world.
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