It was getting late and I wanted to get my kids home so they could get ready for bed. I was packing up my things when a woman walked up to me wanting to talk. Seeing she was distraught and on the verge of tears, I put my things down and gave her my full attention.
She looked at me, tears filling her eyes. This woman had all the physical signs of someone tired and defeated. She tried to speak but tears streamed down her cheeks before the words would come. Finally, she said, “I’m not happy.”
Now, that’s a loaded statement. There could be any reason someone makes that confession.
Unhappiness can stem from a job loss, self-image issues, financial problems, and God-forbid … health-related issues. What could possibly bring her to the point of frustration and emptiness where she can say, “I’m not happy”?
As I sat there, compassion filled my heart. My mind went to verses I could share with her about God and all the ways He could change her situation. But as she continued the conversation, I realized these verses would never leave my mouth.
When she finally found the words to explain her situation, they came like the floodgates of a broken dam. Her husband was mean, her kids were lazy, her friends were absent. There were so many to blame for her unhappiness. Everyone but her.
Sure, she wanted change. She wanted God to step in and change things to make her situation better. She wanted Him to change everything and everyone … except her. According to her reasoning, the unhappiness she experienced was because everyone else needed to change. If they did, the happiness she lost would return.
Do You Want Change?
Have you ever sat down and talked with someone upset with their spouse? How about a friendship that’s taken a rocky turn?
Every time I do, there always seems to be a common complaint. A main reason why the relationship went sour. The final straw that broke the camel’s back.
And it usually has nothing to do with the person complaining. Or so they say.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this. I’m guilty of it myself. Recently, I went back and read my prayer journals from about ten years ago and they all had a common theme. I asked God to change my husband, my family, my friends .. but rarely did I ask Him to change me.
You see, there’s nothing wrong with praying for others and even asking God to change them. But when we feel our happiness stems from the change in someone else’s life, we’ve got things all wrong.
What Do We Do When Others Affect Our Happiness?
I’m not saying there aren’t times when the actions of others affect us. But the Bible never tells us to try and change others. The Bible never tells us our joy is found in the life of another human being on this earth.
We can only experience true change in our lives when we ask God to change us.
When I was a youth leader, I asked the kids if they wanted to do something big for God. Something that changes the world. Without fail, every hand went up. Who doesn’t want to change the world, right?
If you want the world to change, I have the answer for you. Well, not me, but God. You see, there’s a way to change the world and it’s not found in a career, record-breaking feats, or humanitarian efforts. Those things are great, but they’re not world changing.
It Starts With Me
Did you know we can’t truly change anyone, not even ourselves? David understood this better than anyone. In Psalm 51:10 he called out to the Lord, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”
If he thought he could change himself, he wouldn’t have asked God to do it for him. I’ve often said that people can try and change their routine, their habits, and even their will. But only God can change the heart of man (Ezek 36:26).
To me, that’s a comforting thought. Who better to trust with our hearts than God? Who better to trust with changing us than the One who created us?
Don’t Try to Change Others (It Never Works)
But, here’s something we have to understand about ourselves. It’s easy for us to see the faults in others and not ourselves. There’s just something about thinking the world would be a better place if someone else would change their ways.
It’s in our fallen nature to want to point the finger at others. Matthew 7:5 says, “Hypocrite! First, take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” We are really good at telling people how to live their lives and what they need to do to change.
But did you know God refers to what’s in our own eye as a plank and the faults of others as a splinter? Whoa! That’s harsh!
Why is that? Because we’re too busy telling others to change that we don’t see the flaws we need to give God access to change in us.
Again, I’m not saying others don’t need to change and that you don’t have valid reasons to be upset with someone else. But I am saying that we can only control ourselves and that means we should seek change for our own lives because that’s how real change is made.
Be The Change
Ghandi always gets credit for the quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” But in reality, God said it first. Either way, it’s true!
I have a philosophy I live by and it’s this: I don’t go around telling people how to live their lives unless I’m speaking a message in a setting in which they can expect it. And again, that’s as God gives it to me.
I am a firm believer that true Christians do not need to say a word about their Christianity because the evidence of their changed life will speak for itself.
Matthew 5:13-14 tells us to be the salt and light. Do you know the difference between the two? Salt preserves to keep something from decaying. We change the world by making sure we preserve the good in others, and that’s done by living out the word of God.
Light pierces through darkness. There’s a study out that says a flame from a candle can be seen by the naked eye from 1,108 feet. That means a changed life that shines the light of Christ cannot be mistaken.
And so my friend, the challenge this week is to stop trying to fix and change and blame everyone else for the situation we’re in. Change starts with you. Change starts with me.
Lay your heart before God and ask Him to do a work in you that changes you first, and then changes those around you. Because that’s how it’s done. The first ripple of change begins in your heart.
I’m going to leave a link to a poem by an unknown author. It’s one of my favorites and I shared it a few years back during a message I spoke on Mother’s Day. It was fitting then and it’s fitting now.
And if you are one who’s struggling to find happiness because of those around you, I understand. But the lie of the enemy is to believe we can change others so we stop focusing on what God wants to do in our own lives. Offer Him your heart and watch the world around you begin to change!
Hey friend, I am so excited to share my Bible study book release on July 8th! Click here to check it out. If you are in the Fresno area, you are invited to my book signing at Majesty Bible on July 13th from 12-2. Click here for the address. I hope to see you there!
Also, you are encouraged to subscribe to my website. I offer FREE devotionals and I’m sharing an exciting announcement this week and you’ll be the first to know!