Viktor Frankl wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” None of us today know what Viktor Frankl and the other Jews in concentration camps went through, but his insight can be applied to our lives. We all have defects. Not just things we don’t like about ourselves but things that are deeply ingrained in our habits. Temper flair-ups, overstating facts (white lies), porn, pushiness, cursing, racism, etc. I struggled for years with personal defects like having to be right all the time and a bad temper. One day I met a man who would become my spiritual director and he began to help me see real change in my life.
We’ll call my friend Bob. Bob told me that in order to change I had to really want to let go of those fears and defects that keep me separated from God. I thought up until that point I had wanted to, but I had had no success. I was willing to try again. He said, “The only way we can really change ourselves is by choosing to let God change us. By opening up and letting God into every part of our lives.”
I’m an ordained minister. I have a degree in religion. I don’t need some layperson…blah blah blah. The truth is, I was closer to God than I was when I started, but I wasn’t letting Him change me. I liked having my stuff to fall back on. If I need attention, I have a tantrum. If I want to get my way, I get pushy. If you cut me off I scream and flip you off, then pray you don’t follow me to where I’m going.
The truth is, I finally wanted real change.
In order to change ourselves, we have to admit we have a real problem. We have to be willing to say it out loud. Not quietly thinking we want God to act in our lives but admitting out loud the exact nature of our defects. Next, we have to open up our lives to let God in. Do you really want the change or do you really want to say you want the change? For example:
“DON Luigi Giussani used to quote this example from Bruce Marshall’s novel To Every Man a Penny. The protagonist of the novel, the abbot Father Gaston, needs to hear the confession of a young German soldier whom the French partisans are about to sentence to death. The soldier confesses his love of women and the numerous amorous adventures he has had. The young priest explains that he has to repent to obtain forgiveness and absolution. The soldier answers, “How can I repent? It was something that I enjoyed, and if I had the chance I would do it again, even now. How can I repent?” Father Gaston, who wants to absolve the man who has been marked by destiny and who’s about to die, has a stroke of inspiration and asks, “But are you sorry that you are not sorry?” The young man answers impulsively, “Yes, I am sorry that I am not sorry.” In other words, he apologizes for not repenting. The door was opened just a crack, allowing absolution to come in….”
― Pope Francis,
Sometimes being sorry for not being sorry is our only start. But, it is a start none-the-less. In the end, as you have guessed it is God who actually changes us. Without beginning to pray and open up our lives to Him He will let go our own way. Change comes from being open. If you want to change yourself, you have to start letting God in.