If You Could Change One Thing About Yourself…

Remember back in middle school when you would play stupid games with your friends and list list out three things you would change about yourself? You also had to list your three favorite physical features.

That’s right, this game was strictly based on appearances. One of my friends would say “Oh my gosh, I like totally hate my ears. Dumbo.” Someone else would say that they like their smile or their feet. Ugh. Just remembering it makes me cringe.

Now, when I think about what I would change, I always examine myself in the spiritual. Sure, I’m already thinking about how I’m going to drop this baby weight, but more so, I want to drop bad habits. I want the Holy Spirit to some in and rip something out of me. Or do I?

The process of God removing a dead branch is never a fun one. He has to hack at that branch, physically tear it from the rest of the tree. We’re not talking about plucking a hair from our head. This is surgery.

Sometimes, though, if I am on my A-game, meaning I’m not being stubborn and disobedient, I recognize the dead branch before God starts chopping. Whew. That is always preferable.

Right now there has been a big dead branch hanging from me, dangling there, pulling and weighing me down.

We don’t always like going ahead and preemptively busting out the chainsaw. I mean, after all, this branch is still a part of us–connected and growing.

Yet, if it is sin, it really isn’t a part of us and has no place being part of the tree, so to speak. Time to saw away at this unsightly branch.

My dead branch was not so obvious. It is a sneaky branch to say the least. It appears to be Godly, but really it is just a rouse.

In Crazy Love by Francis Chan, which I am slowly making my way through, the conviction of this branch hit. “Lukewarm people,” he writes “love others, just not as much as they love themselves.”

Um, ouch. That.Is.Me.

I love others, no question. I love people whoa re not even in my circle of family and friends, but do I actually love them more than myself? If I am being honest, I have to say “No.”

Yesterday, with my house church, we spoke about brotherly love and how to outdo one another in loving others. I broke down and confessed this fact as sin. I cried (yes, pregnancy hormones play a part I’m sure. They are the devil after all.) and I was genuinely repentant for not loving others the way Christ does. Self-sacrificing. Genuine. Powerfully. Completely.

I don’t know practically how I’m going to go about and show this kind of love. I guess I should pray and let the Spirit lead me (if you’ve got any suggestions, feel free to shoot ’em my way).

So I guess that’s what I would change about myself, at least right now. I could add a million other things, too. I would love to be more disciplined, more patient, less materialistic, and less moody.

So much for “one thing.” I have a few line items on the budget, looks like. That’s okay. Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t ask us to change everything all at once (can you imagine?). He chops one branch at a time…and that’s enough for me.

Okay, so the question is an obvious one: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be and why? How would you practically and spiritually go about making that change?

17 thoughts on “If You Could Change One Thing About Yourself…”

  1. Nicole,

    Nice question.

    I would change the fact I can slip into self-loathing, and forget that to love my neighbor I need to love myself as well.

    It is too easy to put others before yourself in a twisted way of trying to be a servant, but at the expense of your own self-worth in Christ.

    My bride says I have ‘self-destructive tendencies’. I must agree that at times, I do. Need to work on that.

    1. Donald,
      It can so cliche and even new age-y, but it is true. We do need to love ourselves in order to love others. O fcourse not in the way the world tells us. It’s not about filling our lives with stuff because we “deserve” it or chanting an Oprah-mantra in the mirror.

      Love for our self has to come from knowing and understanding that the God of the universe, emptied Himself out, climbed on a cross and died for you…for me. Even if you were the only person on earth, He still would have chosen to do so.

      Most of us have “self-destructive tendencies” I do anyway. Less and less though as He increases.

      Thanks for sharing. Glad you are back! Hope you had a great vacation!

  2. Nicole,
    Wow. This is a tough and awesome post. I finished Crazy Love recently and the part that sticks out to me all the time is the fact that the “point of my life is to point to Jesus.” I have to ask myself daily–What am I going to be KNOWN for?
    My Word for 2011 was KNOWN, but I never posted anything about it. :-P It has still been life-changing though no doubt.
    As far as, what one thing I would change… I guess I would have to say truly living up to this everyday–being known for a Christ Centered life. It is a beautiful thing, but with my human nature, it seems so elusive at times.

    1. Lindsey,
      I love your word for the year. So powerful. We can be known for what we do for the Kingdom or what we fail to do…

      When I was in college I had to write my own eulogy. It was tough and eye-opening because I had to write what I thought (or what I wan) I’d be known for. Ultimately, I want to be known, just like you for living a Christ-centered life.

      Thankfully, God gives us a lifetime to accomplish His works. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great insight, as always! I really enjoy reading your stuff and often chuckle at how it parallels some of the lessons I seam to be learning simultaneously. I am learning how to love others the way Jesus did instead of the way it is easy for me to love them. I am seeing that the root of my lack of love is in my pride and my idolatry. I can be my own little idol. I’ve been reading AW Tozer’s, The Pursuit of God, and studying out Genesis. Seeing my idolatry and lack of humility in my walk with God (Micah 6:8). Started writing about it here: http://t.co/6UtxiCM. Thank you for sharing your genuine walk ;) It is inspiring.

    1. Oh sister,
      I have pride and idolatry written all over me…in invisible ink of course so others won’t know.

      Sounds like you are in the process though of letting God tear down some of this pride and idolatry. Tozer is amazing. One of my favorites. I’ll be checking out your link to see how it is going.

  4. The one thing I would change about myself is that I don’t stick up for the things I believe in, and I don’t take the side of the small guy when I know I should. I’m weak and scared most of the time.

    1. Josh,
      As I read your comment I wondered, what is it you are scared of? What are you scared will happen if you stand up for what you believe and do defend the little guy?

  5. Great post, Nicole. I too, am in the process of removing a dead branch. I think I’ve always been gifted with loving others more than I love myself…at least in most situations. Give me mentally or physically ill people who are dirty and smelly. Give me unattractive folks who might have body parts or fluids exposed and I can look past the ugliness and not see the grossness and see a person who needs to be loved. I can do that, and I understand that not everyone can, God has gifted me. But what I’m finding is that those situations are extreme and sometimes loving annoying people is more difficult (for me).

    But I don’t think God is challenging my ability to love right now. He is pruning me of selfishness and impatience. In the endeavor that my husband and I have currently undertaken I have found myself thinking, “That’s it! I give up on discipling! I’m throwing in the towel, this person can’t change!” I have entertained feelings of uselessness and hopelessness. I’m tempted to not invest more time and effort into a life that needs me. I’m tempted to yell and call names and I’m tempted to taunt. And I am definitely tempted to give up. But God is speaking to me and He is training me. I know God has great plans for Mark and I in ministry, but if I can’t do this current task He has called me to do, I’m not ready. I am painfully realizing in my desire to “give up” that maybe my sin is in my lack of belief and trust. I proclaim that Christ can redeem any one, and yet I wonder if the one in my life can change. I proclaim that God is in control and yet I’m trying to do this my way instead of seeking His wisdom. I proclaim that God can break hearts open and grow the seeds that I plant but I grow weary and frustrated when my seeds show no fruit.

    So right now if I could change anything it would be ridding myself of selfishness and impatience and strengthening my trust in Him and believing that I can do what He called me to. Ouch, I think that is 4 things.

    1. Carla,
      You hit on so many wise points. So often, when we try to make something happen our frustration swells and we simply want to quit.

      I had started discipling a girl who is married a little over a year ago. I was so nervous because she was the first married person I’d ever discipled. I felt so inadequate. I felt like I had nothing to offer. I confessed this to God and just kept showing up. Months in she began to tell me how much I have encouraged her, grown her, challenged her thinking. I was shocked. I was certain there would be no fruit. Last week, I saw her husband who took time to thank me also for pouring into his wife. He said he could see the “fruit” Huh?

      It was a great lesson in obedience for me. Often times when we feel at our most inadequate or ineffective, the Spirit is working. We just have to obey…baby step by baby step.

      I think it sounds like God is already growing you in patience and trust–and breaking off some selfishness, as you obey Him. It’s not a perfect, mess-free process, but the fruit can be so sweet.

      1. Thank you Nicole! I really needed to hear that! I’m not good at baby steps, so this is definitely a learning experience. I’m ready for it, I know this logically, but when my emotions get involved I tend to think I’m not very useful. I need to keep conforming my mind to Christ’s and live beyond my emotions! Thank you so much for the encouragement Nicole!

  6. I would definitely have to say patience! That is one area of my life that just leads to one sin after another. You know how it goes, your kid is doing something they aren’t supposed to or they are crying out for attention. Little by little you get pestered until you blow up. Then you realize that you are the one with the issue and you need to back it up and ask the Lord for strenght. Or how about when the husband does something that you particularly don’t care for. You have asked time and time again that perhaps he could stop leaving his trash on the counter after you have cleaned. The next thing you know your neck is moving and finger is pointing? Those are just a few of the things where I lack self control. And needless to say sometimes a few curse words are uttered or a few doors or slammed in the process. See lack of patience can lead to many more less desirable moments. I pray every night about this and this is definitely something that needs to be changed.

    1. Latoya,
      Gosh do I know the scenario you described here. I hate the cycle I seem to get stuck in with my kids. I have anger rise up that I didn’t even know existed. I think I need more patience, yes. I have also realized that much of my anger or frustration with my kids is rooted in pride.

      How they reflect me. How I’m feeling. What I want right then. I miss the point often times, in regards to instructing them, challenging them, loving them. Once I realized my pride was to blame and confessed it, things got better–not perfect–but better.

      I’ll be praying God would reveal the root issue for you too friend–from a mom to another mom.

  7. My needed area of change parallels many of the rest of you. I’m sure that at its root it has to do we me not loving others enough, as well as things like selfishness and impatience.

    In my particular case, however, the manifestation of this need is in regard to my social skills. I have never been good at meeting new people. I’m sure this has to do with the fact that I was an only child, and that my parents were old enough to be my grandparents, and that I was raised all by myself by these older parents on a farm with no other kids in sight. At a formative point in my development, I simply missed the part about making new friends.

    I can do the initial schmooze part. People who have known me for less than three weeks tend to think well of me. And, people who have known me for more than (six months to two years depending on the situation) often conclude that I’m not dangerous and therefore think well of me also.

    It’s that period in the middle that I don’t do well at… the “more than three weeks but less than a couple of years”. If that’s the amount of time that you’ve known me or been close to me, you probably think I’m from another planet. I just don’t “get” that part of “the dance”.

    In dating women, for instance, I have on several occasions gotten to the three week point and had the woman suddenly say, “Oh, shoot… I just remembered… I already have a boyfriend…” (I’m really not kidding about that!)

    It’s not just dating, however. Getting to know people in a new church or at a new workplace follows the same model. Once my initial charm wears off, my social clumsiness kicks in, and it’s a long time before that “bad second impression” wears off.

    Again, I’m sure that at the root of the problem I’m not as loving as I ought to be, or I’m just inconsiderate, or I inadvertently behave in some selfish manner. Sometimes I just let my hair down a little too quickly and frighten people.

    So, (funny you should choose this topic today) I was thinking about this as I was getting ready for my day this morning. I prayed a whole series of prayers asking God to help me overcome this annoying tendency. I’m eager to see what He does with this.

    1. Ed,
      Friend, we all have annoying tendencies, some of us are just better at covering them up than others.

      I too, am an only child, and I can attest to the fact that it certainly put me in a bubble, away from other kids growing up. I am an extrovert and striking up conversation is difficult for me (I fake it really well) so I can empathize with you.

      I do know this, however, that often what we see as weakness, a character flaw, or an odd idiosyncrasy, God sees as perfect and able to glorify Himself. Now I don’t know how exactly, but I know He can.

      I’ll be praying for the things you discussed here. Maybe it is a pride issue or selfishness. However, I am also going to pray that God would bring people into your life who “get you,” and who understand and connect with you just as you are. Jesus does that and He is certainly capable of doing the same in our lives.

      Blessings to you, Ed.

  8. Challenging question, Nicole. Thanks for the prompting.

    I am learning that loving others doesn’t always look like I think it should. Jesus spoke the truth in love and I am not good at that. Loving others can be hard and risky, painful and ugly.

    I am challenged by prioritizing my time. I am in a different season of life than you are. My son is grown so I don’t have small children any more but I have an aging parent, my husband, a sister with an illness plus the everyday demands of life. I know to put Jesus first but then things get jumbled. To much time with dad, not enough time with hubby, sister is in need. Ack! But I have learned to lean on the Holy Spirit and when I feel I am empty he always comes through for me.

    I think the one thing I would like to change is to give myself grace. God is a God of grace. I can easily extend grace to others but not so much for myself.

    1. Mary,
      Doesn’t is seem that no matter the stage of life, we all struggle with prioritizing Christ over other things? Your son is grown, my kids are little and yet, I too let things “get jumbled” as you said.

      You are so right too that loving others like Christ is messy, painful, and non-glamorous. But too, like you said the Holy Spirit is our constant. I am so thankful for His presence.

      Thanks for sharing Mary.

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