What if change is given to us to use only as long as we continue to work for it?

One day, at the end of a frustratingly fast spiral, we find that everything is lost. It started with a moment of relaxation, a moment of loss of concentration, a thought that an exception to our rule could not be so serious, a feeling that we must remain flexible, a suspicion that we can enjoy the old pleasures without endangering the edifice of personal change. Then something happened—a very stressful period, a major conflict, a crisis… Something always happens.

Finally, after (almost) slipping back to the base of the mountain we had been climbing, we are paralyzed by discouragement or guilt, only to discover that the spiral is not yet fully completed. We can get even lower than we feel we are.

And then we revolt. How is it possible, after such toil, having clenched our teeth for months or years to build a better self, that the new and improved “me” is still out of our reach? The question turns some into hedonists, others into cynics. The truth is hard to bear, those who have not yet arrived here comment from the side-lines.

But what if the truth is different from what we think we understood in the midst of disappointment? What if the truth is that change is given to us to use only as long as we continue to work for it? Isn’t that what experience shows us? Whether it is a healthy body, an agile mind, a good spirit or a faithful heart, we can only have them as long as we take an interest in them. The One who gave them to us does not want them back.

We have shown ourselves so many times that the only one who can deprive us of change is our own self, convinced by the whispers that urge us to give up what we have built, for the illusion of happiness gained by a lack of responsibility, ownership, or higher goals.

And then why protest against the fact that change only remains ours as long as we fight for it? It would be like rebelling against gravity. It does not make sense that, due to the impossibility of changing a universal law, we should give up the possibility of personal change. Aren’t the laws that make change difficult and those that support it both included in the same package? And, do we not choose our perspective on life and change on our own?

The picture is not that difficult to grasp. There are only two possible choices. There is a path with only one final goal—the complete man—that comes with the difficulties of keeping our (un)natural impulses in check, with consistency, perseverance and by giving up self-sufficiency. It is the path we take when we become disciples of the Master who promised that, at the end of the road, all the changes we have worked for will become ours forever.

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But there is also a second path, one of apparently infinite possibilities, permanently promoted, updated, and reinvented, which promises to be shorter, easier and more fun. We are constantly promised that this road will take us wherever we want and that, if it were to involve costs, we can fool others into paying for them.

The debate on the right choice is far from over. There is a queue at every intersection, and people are constantly and chaotically changing track. Some have come to believe that you are getting where you need to go on any of the roads, others claim that the Good Road is a combination of the two. Meanwhile, people run back and forth, with much to take, to give, to bring, to see, and to forget.

We complain that we lack the means or time to find out the truth. As for the One who was said to know the road best, many no longer believe He exists. Some, however, have personal evidence that the change they are experiencing is His gift to them. And, like some who have learned to ask for it and receive it every day, they feel that they have no reason to doubt it.