Over on sarah hatter dot com, Sarah has something interesting to say about desperation and whether people really do change in life:
The more desperate the circumstance, the more urgency a person has to find something to count on, to hold true to. When everything else has failed a person, that is when they start to really believe. How many near death experiences have scared a person out of a life of self-centeredness and deceit? How many death beds have heard confessions of sin and self? How many epic tragedies does it take for a person to begin all over again? Usually only one.
It is in fact desperation that changes us, that lifts us out and stands us up again. It is our clawing and kicking and wrestling with God that finally settles us into something new and comforting. The temper tantrums we throw bring us closer to where we need to be to survive.
I think she has a point… but.
But people have to make a decision to change, too. A person can change, but it takes a hell of a lot of strength and will. I have made that kind of decision once or twice in my life, but I have also seen people wallow in their need-for-change and not make the decision.
Because it’s scary to change, and, though this sounds strange, some part of people resents the amount of change it takes to get past a whatever pain or hard stuff is holding them back. If I were to be happy, this part of us says, it would mean all this pain and trouble was not only meaningless, but also it would mean that the version of me who underwent it had to be extinguished in some sense. The person who feels this pain now must be unbuilt and someone else, who feels happier, put in my place.
Except of course that this is what happens throughout life. It’s a trick of the mind that the person who decides to change himself actually annihilates something that wouldn’t be wiped out anyway. Nothing stays the same over time… nothing escapes the erosion of time.
So the choice to move on, to get past something, or to better yourself does involve the annihilation of some part of yourself. But, there are two things to bear in mind: on the one hand, you aren’t eliminating anything from yourself that wouldn’t disappear eventually on its own, even if it did ebb into nothing instead of being excised. And secondly, you also create something new in yourself, a new capacity or a new lens through which to view the world.
So I agree with Sarah, but I think for many of us it’s a hard thing to do. But it is really, really worthwhile.