Expecting change without changing equals insanity

Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries
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Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

“You know when you are sailing, and you lose the wind? What do you do? You try a different tack. You need to try a different tack with your son.”

I hit the pause button on the episode of my favorite TV show and picked up a notepad. The powerful visual was too good to dismiss. It is true and I could certainly relate.

I used to sail in a bay on the shores of South Brazil, and what the character described is precisely what often happened when I reached the open ocean with my small Laser boat. As long as I stayed inside the bay, it was reasonably easy to navigate the waters. But if I ever decided to venture out of the bay and into the open ocean, I would invariably lose wind.

On peaceful, windless days, I would get stuck for a while until I tried a different tack. Once I did that, my boat would continue to sail on my adventurous course into the high seas.

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

On the TV show I was watching, the father could not build a good rapport with his adult son, no matter how hard he tried. He kept giving the son advice, reaching out to him, only to realize that the harder he tried, the more the son would distance himself from his anxious father. The frustration of losing control of the situation sent this father on a whirlwind of emotions, making him stubbornly try to gain his son’s respect by repeatedly doing the same wrong thing, time and again.

We can’t seem to help it, can we? We want to do what is right but find ourselves repeating the same wrong patterns deeply engraved in our souls.

We want to continue to eat the same way and lose weight. We want to behave the same way toward our spouse and expect romance to bloom. We keep on giving our children little attention and want them to behave better. In other words, we keep on sailing in the same windless sea, using the same tack.

In our stubbornness, we wish to obtain change without changing. Insanity.

In the seventh chapter of the book of Romans, the apostle Paul opened his heart when speaking of this cruel trait of humanity:

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do.”

How easy it is to relate to the apostle! Indeed, I often know what I need to change and yet, I find myself making the same choices and expecting different results.

I truly believe that this internal war rages because we can’t change deep-set habits on our own. Our flesh was born with the dogged tendency to follow its desires, even after repeatedly obtaining the same bad results.

Our only hope is if we allow God to change us first. Only he can change our hardened hearts. Nothing and no one else can.

It’s so very true. Whenever I try hard to control my life, I seem only to reinforce the definition of insanity. But each time I give up trying to control my circumstances and, instead, yield them into God’s mighty hands, he faithfully breathes new wind into my sails, guiding me to the course he has planned.

Indeed, I believe actual change only comes when I allow God to change me first. I wouldn’t say I like it. Not at all. But as I look back, I must say that my best journeys have been those I allowed him to direct, bar none.

It’s one act of trust at a time. It’s less doing and more listening. Less hastening and more waiting. Only then can we indeed find the right wind and smile as we realize that we are finally sailing on the right course.

Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger and international speaker. Visit her website www.soaringwithHim.com to learn about her speaking ministry, Bible studies and book. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com