The constancy of change

I’m prepping for an interview with Rachel Held Evans by re-reading her first book Evolving in Monkey Town, now called Faith Unraveled, subtitled “How A Girl Who Knew All The Answers Learned To Ask The Questions” – and if you think that sounds like something we at Confirm not Conform would love, you would be right.

She writes about how she was taught to develop a Christian worldview, and comments, “It’s hard to maintain a consistent worldview when the world itself is always changing.” To that I’d like to add that we ourselves are constantly changing, which also makes it hard. After all, a worldview can only remain consistent if one person stands in the same place at all times. No growing, no moving, no changes in circumstances allowed.

I recently watched a TED talk called The Psychology of Your Future Self that explores how much people change over time – and how little people think they will change. The presenter, Dan Gilbert, a Harvard psychologist, notes “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished.”

It is an indisputable truth that we change over time. That holds true for our beliefs as well.

Here’s a personal example:

When I was a kid, I got sick all the time. I never had to go to the hospital, but I never seemed to skip a possible illness. I had terrible allergies that involved lots of shots. I got strep throat like clockwork every 8 weeks. Somehow, despite being vaccinated, I got measles, scarlet fever, and any other childhood disease that came down the pike. I believed, and I had some reason to believe this, that I was sickly, that I was not a healthy person. This was a belief I strongly held about myself for years, long after I stopped needing allergy shots, long after I’d outgrown the bimonthly prescriptions for antibiotics. It was very hard to come to terms with the new belief that I was a healthy person who occasionally got sick, not a sickly person.

That may seem an innocuous example, but trust me, that was a fundamental shake-up in how I viewed myself as a person.

Change is hard; changes in previously strongly-held belief is scary. But here’s the thing: allowing your belief to change as your perspective changes is actually a step in faith. And as someone who believes in the grace and love of God, I believe we must constantly exhibit that grace and love to one another – and to ourselves in our doubts and struggles.

Changes in belief are not a sign of lack of faith. They’re not a sign of relativism. They’re not indicators of backsliding. They’re signs of…change. And they can change again. And, undoubtedly, they will. 

Do take a look at the TED talk! It's fascinating!