Two Types of Change

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As a counselor and life coach, I consider myself something of a “Change Agent.”  That’s because when clients come to me they are seeking either to change themselves or change someone they know. Unfortunately, the latter part of that pursuit ends only in frustration—since we cannot change anyone but ourselves. But that doesn’t stop people from wishing that they could!

One of the main frustrations my clients complain to me about is just how slow change happens. I so get this! I am impatient with it too, in my own life, and especially in the life of my husband. The one thing we all have in common is that we seem to be much more impatient with the progress of our partners than we are with our own progress! Funny how that works! This need for speed puts a lot of pressure on me as a counselor because, typically my clients come to me today wanting their marriage relationship to change yesterday! I try to remind them that the majority of the time lasting change doesn’t happen quickly. This leads me to the first type of change:

1.  Quick Change
And no, I’m not talking about getting a “Jiffy Lube.”  “Quick Change” is change that happens like it sounds—quickly! The problem is, this type of change happens only about 1% of the time. However, most people expect it to happen about 99% of the time or more! I consider this type of change to fall in the miracle category, because I believe God has intervened in the usual order of things whenever someone has changed overnight.

The second type of change is:

2.  Slowpoke Change
No one wants to accept this fact, but the truth is that change is painstakingly slow. Most of the time when we make a change for the better, we can only maintain that new change briefly before we lapse back into the old negative pattern. Enter frustration and discouragement!

Which brings me back to the truth: change is slow!

I know you really want the change to happen quickly and you keep trying each day to make changes in yourself, or you fall into the trap of watching for your mate to change each day, but it seems more like two steps forward, three steps back. If that’s the case, I would say to you … just in case you didn’t get it the first and second time around …

Change is slow!!

That doesn’t mean we’re doomed to stay in that old pattern, but it does mean that in order to change we will need to recommit to that new change over and over before the new change can be established.

The truth is, the only real “Change Agent” is Jesus Christ. Only He can give you the power to make lasting changes in your life. Remember, God works not only in the “Quick Changes” but also in the “Slowpoke Changes.”  In fact, I’m convinced that God does more character and faith development in me in those slowpoke changes than He ever does in the overnight variety!

Bottom line –

  • Be patient with yourself and others since change happens SLOWLY!
  • Look to Jesus to help you change!

What area in your life are you impatient with the rate of change? Why do you think that is? Are you more impatient with yourself or with others needing change?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

bethBeth Steffaniak is a pastor’s wife, counselor, life-coach and mom to three budding young men. She blogs at messymarriage.com, where her heart is to be “Real, Raw and Redemptive” about the messiness of life and marriage. She believes that God calls us to see the ugly, broken, desperate mess from His perspective—the eternal, unseen, redemptive side.

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  1. I love this, Beth! We’re so impatient! And we’re really chomping at the bit when it comes to others changing. We want it ALL and we want it NOW!

    Oh for grace, that unmerited favor … and patience, a fruit of the Spirit …

    1. Grace truly is the needed ingredient when we’re impatient with the changes in ourselves and others. God is reminding me more and more of this truth, Linda. I so appreciate you taking the time to come by and weigh in on my guest opportunity! Hugs to you!

  2. Oh, quick change would be so great, wouldn’t it? There would be so much less work and struggling and learning involved. . . I think I am more patient with others.

    I’ve seen quick change when a spouse receives a possibly life-threatening diagnosis, and the other spouse is suddenly more grateful because they could have lost them, but did not. They were able to see what they had not seen.
    I’ve seen slow change, too. We do get impatient, but it is worth the wait.

  3. Yes, sometimes God gets our attention with traumatic events and trials, Kim. That’s so true. And none of us really want that kind of change. So maybe the slow change is really a blessing in disguise. Now if we could just embrace it and trust God along the way. I guess we just need to be patient with ourselves to “change” our attitude on that one, right? 😉

  4. “The one thing we all have in common is that we seem to be much more impatient with the progress of our partners than we are with our own progress!” Ain’t that the truth! Thanks, Beth, for the reminder that most change is a process, not an event. It’s easy to get discouraged when you want it to be an event.

    1. Yeah, and it’s the one thing I try to remember whenever I am impatient with someone else’s progress–just how long it’s taking me to change something in my life! When I do that, I extend the grace God’s given me to others. Thanks so much for your sweet words and for adding to the conversation, Gaye.

  5. Beth, I love this “the only real “Change Agent” is Jesus Christ.” Oh i can’t count the number of times I’ve thought myself a change agent in my husbands life! 🙂 And you know how that ends 🙁 Not too well! I am certainly more patient with myself than I am with others. Funny how we extend so much grace to ourselves and not the same to our nearest and dearest. I am a work in progress in this one but growing daily by His grace. Thanks for this reminder today.

  6. Thanks, Beth! I kept thinking as I was reading that the best power to draw on as a change agent is divine power, and it wasn’t long before you said so yourself! You’re right on. I often fall into the “I can do this myself” mentality and forget (or maybe am to prideful) to involve the Lord. Thank you for the reminder about how much I need him. Best to you!

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