What people decide to be.

I firmly believe that we are defined not by our circumstances but by our actions. We are what we decide to be. The decisions that we make while in the midst of difficult situations say more about us than the situation itself ever will. Sometimes people do things that are contrary even to their own professed beliefs. Sometimes people have opinions that they believe to be the truth, and they use those opinions to judge others, or to judge you. Sometimes people are mean-spirited, and sometimes they are the nicest person on earth who just doesn’t see a glaring truth.

The truth is, people are going to behave hypocritically. They will hurt you, they will make wrong decisions based on pure emotion, they will have the best intentions and still screw up unfathomably. As cliche as it is, people are messy. People are not just good or bad. People do not make only good or bad decisions. Even the most selfless person you know has their moments of completely self-absorption. Maybe much more often than you think. But when someone is so far to the negative extreme that you cannot stand them, you have to keep telling yourself: that’s who I was.

Some people need change so badly, and it seems that they’re the only one who’s unaware of that. Maybe they’re making the same stupid or wrong decision over and over and over and over, and you’ve tried to tell them, over and over and over and over, and you think, Maybe this time they’ll hear me. But they don’t. And it happens again. Maybe this person is close to you, and that’s why you keep coming back to them. But they can’t hear you.

The truth is, anybody can decide to change. We can’t do it for them. They have to decide it. But sometimes people’s patterns of choices become such a part of them that it’s not that they can’t change, but that it would require a miracle for that to happen. Who they are is so deeply entrenched in the choices that they make, that to extricate the person from the decisions would be to make a whole new human being, a whole new life. This is frustrating, and upsetting, and difficult for those of us who watch it happen. And even if that person were extricated from their pattern of making choices, the fact that those choices were so deeply ingrained before would no doubt leave behind residue and scars, that may further influence backsliding.

But it’s important to remember, this is what sin is to us. It is so deeply ingrained in the human race, that change is impossible without a miracle. And Jesus is that to us. When you meet someone who’s the biggest jerk you’ve ever known, remember that you were there. When you meet someone who is the nicest person alive but who keeps making wrong decisions over and over again, remember that you were there once too. Remember where you came from, and realize it wasn’t your own power that got you where you are now, and that’s how you can keep loving people even if they never choose to change.

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