Grafted2theVine.com

Online Christ-Life Coaching

Dear fellow Believer, does the fruit you bear look like the image on the left, or the right?

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Fruit of those grafted to Heaven's Vine    

                    (John 15:1-8)   

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Fruit of those still attached to Earth's vine

                (Revelations 14:17-19)

If you were to ask yourself the questions below; what would the answers be?

Am I living a life worth living, or am I just living?

Am I making a difference for the Kingdom?

Am I a case of: the more I try to change, the more I stay the same?

How much of my mind has been changed to think Christ's way, and how much still operates the same old way leaving me struggling with the same old hang-ups, fears, emotions, behaviors?

Am I joyful in all circumstances, or is depression, unhappiness, or dread, a too frequent companion?

Is the fruit of the Spirit evident in my life, or would people be surprised to learn I am a Christian?

Do I love the Lord my God with all my mind, soul, heart and strength, and others as Christ's loves me; or is my day mostly about my wants and needs, and ego?

If you are not happy with your answers, and are ready to do something about it, I would love to help you you overcome anger, depression, anxiety, fear and all the other emotions that does not belong to someone who is being remade in the image of Christ. After all, you are now part of the family of God, why go it alone? Achieving goals are so much faster when you have a coach to guide you as you go. Which may bring you to the question:

Why a human coach when we have the Holy Spirit?

Of course the Holy Spirit as our guide is all we could ever need, trouble is, for most of us, our human ears have a hard time distinguishing His voice from all the internal noise. At least in the beginning. In time you will learn to recognize His voice, but till then, a human guide is a good second best. But, being merely human, never follow anyone blindly. Make sure their guidance lines up with scripture. And if you feel unease about the path they are leading you, do not ignore the feeling, that is most likely the Spirit warning you.

Purple Flowers
 To change or not to change, is the decision. 
   How to change, is the question.   
Blue Flower
Why is real and lasting change so difficult to achieve?

Were there but one reason, the solution would have been straight forward. But as with all things human, it is complicated.  Why do most people give up long before they achieved their desired goal? Or revert back to old behavior shortly after achieving it. A brief discussion of the main reasons follows below - in no particular order:

Change may cause loss of valued relationships

People are in a relationship with the current 'you'. The very things you may feel dissatisfied with in your personality, might be what drew them to you. 

 

For example, a domineering person is drawn to a submissive person. If the latter suddenly develops a healthy self-image and becomes more self-assertive, the domineering person will either become worse, or threaten to leave. And love is a strange thing, even when a relationship is unhealthy, the thought of the loss of the relationship will often have the person abandon their attempt at change. We were not created to be solitary beings, the fear of the loss, or even just the danger of the loss of an established connection, is often enough for most people to maintain the status quo.

It is a good idea before setting off on your change journey, to first sit down and calculate the relationship cost. And be careful, people may say they are for your growth and change, but will they really be able to adjust to the new you? For example, if you had a friendship with someone who loves to gossip and shop, which is what the two of you usually did together, would a friendship with someone who suddenly only sees the good in others and who wants to use her free time serving at a soup kitchen, still be something that person would want, when the change in you becomes real and is not just a theory anymore?

(The great irony and exception are those cases where people actually want someone to change, even threatening them with the loss of the relationship if they don't, and that person stubbornly resists changing. This is often the case with alcoholics, drug addicts, gamblers, etc.)

Lack of energy / good health

Change requires energy: mental, physical, relational and spiritual. Mentally the brain develops pathways that is strengthened over time. Behavioral and thought patterns that have been around for a long time, won't go quietly. Starting a new neural network while breaking down the old one, is equivalent to digging out a new pathway for a river to follow while filling in the old one. 

Mentally the battle is also fought on another front: change for the better usually goes against the way our bodies are wired. Remember, we are made of dust as well. When the ground was cursed causing us to now have to expend a lot of energy in order to get it to yield to our will, so our bodies now fight us with the thorns and thistles of desires, lusts, and appetites that are contrary to God's way.

 

Add to these demands on your energy reserves having to fight off people. It is not just conflict with those you are in direct relationship with and who resist the changes in you, but people you will come across in your daily walk may give you a hard time. People don't like to see their true selves. Once you start looking and behaving like Christ you become a mirror in which they will see there reflection. Instead of gratitude for showing them the areas in their life they need to work on, you can expect mocking, belittling and rejection. That is life for you.  And if being mocked and ostracized are all you get - consider yourself lucky. Many Christians are not so lucky, they will get beaten, incarcerated, even killed. It takes courage to go against the norm, against those you love, against your culture or society, and courage taps from your energy reserves.

To make matters worse, while you are doing the hard work of rewiring established neural nets in your brain and fighting to keep your body under control, tapping into your courage to fight off the barrage of resistance from society - you can be assured of attack from the spiritual world as well. Much as we may not like the idea, the world we observe is but a fraction of reality. Our enemy in the spiritual realm does not want any of us to change, unless that change will make us look more like him, of course. Paul referred to our Christian walk, as the 'good fight' and 'a race' - not a lovely stroll on a beautiful evening. We are warned that our enemy is like a roaring lion, on the prowl to devour those he regards as an enemy. Taking your stand against the enemy and fighting the battle on that front, you guessed it, taps from your energy reserves as well. This problem is made worst if you suffer from poor health.

Time Time Time

As a rule, change is like getting rid of a really large tree by digging it up by the roots. Just when you think you're done, you see the tree still stands as there are still more roots feeding it and keeping it grounded. Then the process of identifying the root cause and doing the hard, and sometimes painful work, of getting rid of it, starts all over again. All of this takes dedicated time.

In all fairness to many people working on changing for the better, it is not that they always give up, it's just that due to the limited time available for change-work, the changing happens so slowly, it's hard to notice it sometimes.

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Chirping up the wrong tree

An unnecessary, but all too frequent reason, is misdiagnosis, by either the person or the person they seek guidance from. For example, you may go for therapy to overcome your depression. Talk for hours about everything in your past you can think of that is causing your depression, while all you needed was some medication to correct a thyroid imbalance. Perhaps all you needed for lasting change was to understand how the brain works and then using that knowledge to affect the change. 

"I'm a good person."

Ah yes, the good-enough-syndrome. The belief that all that is needed to qualify for Heaven is to say that you believe in Christ as Savior - and be good.  Then people promptly compare themselves to the worst of society, and they feel downright holy. I mean, compared to so-and-so and such-and-such, you are a good person. For good measure you can from time to time ask for the forgiveness of the 'small' sins committed since your declaration of faith - just to be on the safe side. Everything else would just be building a treasure in Heaven. 

 

Since Heaven is already described as more magnificent than anything we can imagine, why be greedy for more treasures? Even if those suffering from this belief do not consciously verbalize it, it is the operating power working against their spiritual growth: God already accepts me as I am, and I'm accepting Heaven as is. So why fix what is not broken? 

Too close for objectivity

The next reason is one of the cornerstones of change - objectivity. Many people do not understand this, or they are too proud to ask for help, feeling they will be able to sort out their own problems, or perhaps they do not have the means or opportunity to reach out to a trained person who can look at their situation with the necessary objectivity needed to correctly identify the factors at work in their life. They may be too ashamed to share their struggles with another person.

Whatever the reason, going it alone is the equivalent of flying blind. With determination you will eventually get there, but with a good objective guide it could have gone so much faster.

Heaven is too far away

Heaven is for many simply too far into the future to be a present reality - it is in a sense on the same level as 'once upon a time in a galaxy far-far away.' The idea of Heaven and a great reunion in the hereafter is great for comforting ourselves when we lose a loved one. The idea of Heaven is good for calming fears of death and dying - but Heaven for now remains an idea. A stiff drink on the other hand can achieve the same result of dimming the pain, and it has real substance - right now.

Here it is not so much that people feel they do not have to change, they do want to change, they realize they have to change, and they will do so - tomorrow. As one researcher on self-control put it - in the future we are all wonderful people, trouble is, when we get there, we are still ourselves.

Ready to increase the rate at which you change?