Does Anyone Really Change?
Before you begin responding to the questions in this session, please read chapter 1 in the book Becoming Myself.
It’s wise to begin each new day and certainly each new work with prayer. So before you dive into the study, please pray! Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you. I like to begin each day—even before I get out of bed—with a simple prayer: “Jesus, I consecrate my life to you.” I am a woman who happily admits that I need all the help I can get!
So to start:
Jesus, I consecrate myself to you, this day to you, and this study to you. I pray for your guidance and your help. Please fill this time. Quicken my heart and my mind in response to the nudges of your Spirit. I give you permission to take me wherever you want me to go. I am yours. At least, I want to be yours. More and more. In Jesus’s Name. Amen.
There. That was good. Now, do you have some time and space for this? Are you sitting at a red light, trying to find a few moments to fit this in, or do you have some room? If you’re home, can you unplug or turn off your phone? Your relationship with Christ, your heart, your becoming yourself is worth time, space, effort, and attention. Breathe deeply. Okay. Ready? Let’s begin.
Q1: What was stirred in you as you read this first chapter? Hope? Resignation? Passion? Nothing? Take a few moments to check in with your own heart. What has been your response to the thoughts presented?
Q2: As you look back at your life, what are some areas you have grown in? (For example, maybe you’re less afraid to meet new people, able to kill spiders, less controlling of others…)
Q3: You are most likely quite aware of the places in your life that you would like to be different. There are places you long to grow in and areas where you may feel bound to fail over and over again. What are those?
Q4: I wrote, “Many women feel like a failure as a woman. I know that oftentimes I do. A failure as a human being, really. It has affected just about everything I have done and everything I have been kept from doing” (Becoming Myself, page 14). Is this true for you? And if so, does it relate to the areas you long to change or to something else?
Q5: Can you remember a time when you were ashamed of who you were and of not being who you wanted to be? If so, what happened?
Invite Jesus into that memory. Just a simple prayer like this is really good: “Please, Jesus, come into this memory. Come into this place in my heart and minister to me here.”
Q6: Have you ever used shame to motivate yourself? Are you still using it? How? (By shame, I am referring to an inner dialogue in which you berate yourself for not being or doing what you consider to be the right thing.)
Q7: How has shame worked out for you as a motivator? How is it working now?
Q8: What about discipline? Have you created lists for yourself regarding the ways you want to be living? Are you able to follow through with those lists? In what areas of your life is that more challenging for you?
A key truth in chapter 1 is this:
The very fact that we long for the change we do is a sign that we are meant to have it. Our very dissatisfaction with our weaknesses and struggles points to the reality that continuing to live in them is not our destiny. (Becoming Myself, page 15)
Q9: As you consider the possibility that this really is true, what does it evoke in your heart?
Q10: Near the end of chapter 1, I ask you to consider the possibility that becoming your truer self is less about your own effort and more about the process of allowing God to restore you. Do you think that is true? And if it’s true, how does that make you feel? (Hopeful? Irritated that he seems to be taking so long? What?)
Q11: In what areas in your life would you love to experience God’s deeper restoration of you?
Turning our attention to areas that we would like to change or grow in can often leave us feeling like a failure. That is why it is vitally important that in the same moments of acknowledging our desire for change, we also need to acknowledge this foundational truth: God loves you. Right here. Right now.
I wrote, “God is not going to love me any more or any differently when and if I finally lose this weight and become free from the stranglehold of food. Jesus’s love for me, my Father’s love for me, never changes. Yeah, okay, fellowship may be strained at times, but his heart toward me does not change. He is passionately in love with me. Even better, I think he likes me. And by the way, he’s got a pretty huge thing for you, too. Yes, you” (Becoming Myself, page 20).
Q12: In the light of God’s love, write out your prayer, asking Jesus to come and help you to rest in his love for you and also to bring about the change, the unveiling, that you long for. Thank him, by faith, that he is going to do just that.
Let’s pray together:
Dear God, you know my story. You know my desires, and you know the places where I have begun to give up hope. Would you please come for me, Jesus? Would you please breathe life and hope into the places of my heart that need to be revived? I pray for your eyes on my life. I pray for the grace to believe more deeply that you love me completely right now, even before I have gained the victory and freedom I long for.
Jesus, I invite you to continue to reshape the way I feel about myself. Holy Spirit, fill me this day and awaken me more deeply to you. I want to let go of shame. I want to let go of striving. But I’m not sure how that intertwines with still trying. I want to cooperate with you. And I want to be free and true. Please unveil the truest me. I need your help. Thank you that you are restoring me, Jesus. I look to you. In Jesus’s Name. Amen.
Yesterday morning, as I went for my daily walk/prayer time, the silliest thought went through my head. Thinking of the schedule for the many months ahead and what will be required, I actually said to myself, “If I were me, I’d hire a personal trainer.” Hilarious, right? If I were me? Hmmmm. Guess what, girlfriend—you are you. I let my thoughts run a little rampant. Looking at my life from a safe distance, I asked myself, “What else would you do, if you were you?” Turns out there’s a lot I would do.
It was an interesting exercise. What would I do if I were me but didn’t have the responsibility to actually do the work? (I’ve always thought I could do a great job running other people’s lives. Just not so great with my own.) But what would I do with my own life… really? What would you do with yours?
Who is the woman you want to become? What is she like? Ask God to begin to breathe hope into your heart that you can actually become her.
By faith, we turn to him. By faith, we choose to believe that he hears our prayer. By faith, we believe he is good and is for us. By faith, we trust that though we may not see it or feel it, God is at work in us and for us. Because he says he is. (Becoming Myself, page 24)