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Change Is Good . . . You Go First

Change. A six-letter word that packs a lot of nuanced power.

We've experienced more than a little change over the past year. But change in our lives is really nothing new. Some of us embrace change. And some fight it tooth and nail.

Over the next few blogs, we’re going to dig a little deeper into what change is, how it typically happens in stages, and how vital it is to understand which stage of change we’re in for EVERY behavior or area of our lives.

Dr. James Proschka and his collaborators developed the Transtheoretical Model of Change (TTM). They discovered that people typically move through five very predictable stages of change:

1. Precontemplation (I’m NOT ready for change.)

2. Contemplation (I’m THINKING about maybe making a change.)

3. Preparation (I’m GETTING READY to take some action.)

4. Action (I’m DOING it; I’m making a change!)

5. Maintenance (I’m consistently maintaining the positive behavior change I made.)

Each of us might go through all these stages, be in one stage for a long time, or move into a stage and then back down to a previous stage. There’s nothing static or boring about our lives!

Growth is not steady, forward, upward progression. It is instead a switchback trail; three steps forward, two back, one around the bushes, and a few simply standing, before another forward leap. Dorothy Corkville Briggs

“Two steps forward, one step back.”

Yet in our world that worships achievement, appearances and success, we often just pay lip service to being okay with that one step back!

Maybe you’ve set a goal to lose weight, exercise or start a new bible reading plan. You’re going along great at first, but an extra cookie or two, a skipped workout or a missed reading have you convinced you’ve blown it.

Instead of focusing on progress, we think we need to achieve perfection--an unrealistic goal!

We know only One person ever achieved perfection, and He used His perfection to cover every time we’ve missed the mark in life. And as we talk about all the different aspects of change, we know that God in His mercy never changes!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

God is perfect. We’re not and don’t have to be. We will change (sometimes for good, sometimes for not-so-good!), but God will not change who He is.

Resting in those truths, we can bravely explore our own ideas about change, the research into how our brains react to the idea of change and how each stage of change can shed light on why progress might (or might not) be happening.

We can clarify what’s OURS to change . . . and why focusing on others’ change is going to be an exercise in frustration!

We’ll dig into practical ways to embrace healthy change, release our grip on trying to control others, and understand how to support people we care about--and ourselves!--in whatever phase of change each of us happens to be experiencing.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

We’ll explore Precontemplation in our next blog.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear what’s bubbling up for you around the topic of CHANGE:

Have you had great experiences trying to make a change?

Is there a change you’ve tried and been consistently frustrated around?

Questions you’d like answered or a story you’d like to share?

Please comment below!

(And here’s the Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!” to reinforce the reality that change will continue this side of heaven!)

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