I couldn't figure it out. It was a pretty simple thing, and I didn't understand why it couldn't work.
I had recently bought a silver necklace that consisted of an intricate series of connected teardrop-shaped loops. Although I enjoyed wearing it, I often had difficulty unhooking the clasp. Sometimes, it was easy, yet other times, undoing the necklace seemed to take ages, even after I'd spun around the clasp to the front of my neck so that I could see in the mirror.
My fingers felt huge and clumsy. I was puzzled about the reason for this problem. Was it my technique? But then I thought: seriously, how hard was it to remove a chain?
A friend stopped by one evening after I had worn the necklace to work, so I asked for his help to take it off. When he did so in mere seconds, I wanted to know why I couldn't get it right. "Simple," he said, "The spaces in the chain are different sizes. You've probably been hooking the clasp into the smaller holes and not the bigger ones at the end of the chain."
I looked again, more closely this time, and realised he was right. I hadn't noticed the varying sizes before.
It took someone else coming in and giving me perspective to see what I had been doing wrong.
What does this have to you do with you?
Have you ever had a conversation with a trusted friend or family member in which they reveal something about you that you didn't even realise yourself, specifically, some trait you weren't fully aware of? Last week, a colleague shared her observation that I take my "lawyer tendencies" into my workplace interactions: I'm overly detail-oriented, ask interrogation-like questions, forcefully argue my point, and aim to have the last word (she drew a tennis analogy and described it as a volleying).
I realised she was right. The same traits that served me well professionally were less effective in interpersonal relationships at work.
Sometimes, it takes someone else to come, take a look at what you have been doing, just like my friend and co-worker did, and say what exactly isn't working, why it isn't, and what you may wish to do differently. It is like a mirror being held up to you to show you what you need to change.
What do you see?
The Word of God does this too.
The Creator gives us an opportunity to see our real selves through the Word. When the Bible talks about various issues we face, such as loving our neighbour, maintaining unity within a community of believers or controlling our sexual urges as a single person, the Holy Spirit causes us to take a look at what we're doing and thinking and we realise the areas where we fall short. It is a piercing, real look into the heart of who you are, in a way you have never encountered before:
...the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews chapter 4 verses 12 to 13)
We repent and ask God to change us. To do otherwise is folly. James chapter 1 verses 22 to 25 says:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
The purpose of the good news of the Gospel is change. Jesus doesn't leave us as we are, in the mess of our sin and shortcomings. Becoming a Christian doesn't mean that we suddenly become perfect.
It means that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit that God gives us once we have decided to turn over rulership of our lives to Jesus. Giving him rulership means that what God wants and what pleases Him becomes more important than what we think or what we want to do. Far from being a limited life, a life surrendered to God is capable of achieving so much more than you can on your own.
It is a life marked by love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control (Galatians chapter 5 verses 22 to 23) and a more wholesome, harmonious relationship with others and yourself.
Let's face it though. Truth and change can feel painful. It is sobering to suddenly come face-to-face with yourself in a way you may not have thought about before. But let that fresh (albeit unpleasant) encounter trigger transformation, instead of paralysis caused by fear.
Life can be better than it is now. Change is possible with God. Change your perspective. Ask Him to help you do that. There will be problems in your life for which He has a solution that you can't see yourself.
There will be characteristics about you He can change that will make you more effective with dealing with yourself and others and that will draw your closer to Him. He wants you to have an abundant life. Don't settle for less.
Sharma Taylor is a corporate attorney with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Law from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She is a "child of the Caribbean" but New Zealand will always be her second home because of the beautiful people she met there.
Sharma Taylor's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sharma-taylor.html