Thursday, September 9

Being a Change in the World

For most of my life I've wanted to "change the world."

I grew up in an almost perfect family, with superheroes for parents and inheriting at least some of their awesomeness. I was a star student, champion athlete, great musician... you name it. And then I realized that everyone wasn't like me. Everyone didn't grow up as an Incredible... and suddenly it didn't seem fair that I could sit in on a class and recite back, word for word, what the teacher said, or read a textbook once and have 99% comprehension... when the girl next to me studied for hours just to memorize the quadratic equation.

And so I wanted to change the world - to make the world easier, or more conducive to better experiences for the rest of mankind. If I could address the major issues in the world - hunger, education, health, safety, and faith - then everyone would be free to be amazing.

At the same time, I dealt with my own issues in life. I had unanswered questions that left me wondering, staring at the stars or the ceiling (or both - those glow-in-the-dark stars that never come off...) into late hours of the night, and prayers that went seemingly unanswered though they filled my mind and heart. I struggled with depression, lived through the pain of thinking I was worthless and cursed, and walked the road of repentance and change... all the while hoping and expecting to reach perfection sometime soon.

But perfection never came. I learned one lesson, then the Lord gave me another project to master. After I learned that one, He threw another idea my way. And when I rarely felt like I was in control of my life, the world rocked on its foundations... and the biggest trials of all fell right into my lap. What I had once thought a simple exercise in removing vices and cultivating virtues became a complex mix of trying to figure out who I was and where the Lord wanted me to go.

And I realized that the world didn't need to change. I did. Even though I can be pretty persuasive, encouraging, or coercive... people choose to change themselves. And people choose to change when two factors are in place: they believe that change is worth the effort, and they believe that they can do it. Everything comes from those two beliefs. If I lack one, regardless of if it's true, I'll never try to change. If I have both, regardless of if they are true, I will probably succeed. And my success helps others to see the possibility for change in their own lives.

I've seen a lot of changes in the people around me as I've tried to help others to become better each day. From depression to optimism. From sickness to health. From loathing to love. From uncertainty to faith. Each of those changes mirrors a change I've already effected in my own life. Ultimately, the change I create in the world comes from changes I create in me.

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