Monday, November 25, 2013

People are more important than change

During one of my runs last week, I passed by one my favorite views of downtown Atlanta, and I stopped to snap a quick picture.

Atlanta skyline through the haze and Fall leaves
As I approach this view on each run, I look forward to seeing the beauty in every season.

Seeing the city skyline and fall trees brought to mind a training that John and I attended last weekend. The training was called Dignity Serves, and it teaches you how to give and receive with dignity, especially in the context of the inner-city.

Throughout the remainder of my run, I meditated on one of the key principles of Dignity Serves: People are more important than change.

We often long for change: "When are the leaves going to change color?" or "When is she ever going to change?" or "When will changes start happening in our city?"

Yet at the same time, we are so resistant to it. We like the comfortable. We live in the status quo. We often don't change until it's too uncomfortable not to.

What do these opposing views mean for my life? What do they mean for yours?

As a resident of Atlanta, it's tempting to give up on change with so many systemic problems that cloud progress. But usually when we give up on change, we give up on people too.

This can also be true for family members. Is loving them more important to you than seeing them change? This doesn't mean that love doesn't call people to change. But you must remember that you are not the one responsible for their change.

And what about for yourself? Just as it's tempting to give up on others changing or on the inner-city being renewed, we can lean toward self-contempt when personal change is slow. Instead, we must remember what our identity is in and who brings the change.

David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
“Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand... I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you." 1 Chronicles 29

When our primary focus is on the One Who Blesses, we are free to give and receive love. He is the one who will bring the change - in ourselves, in others, and in the city.

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