New year, new me. Time to give up the junk food, get in the gym, call my parents more, spend more time with my kids, quit smoking, stop spending so much time on video games, get my budget in check, and on and on and on. Change is the buzzword this time of year. The funny thing is, it’s the buzzword this time every year. I need a way to make change that lasts. Turns out, there is a totally doable, simple life hack to help you make the changes you’re desperate to make! But it’s taken me quite a while to find it.
I always wonder why it’s so hard for me to stop doing things I know I shouldn’t do. Why do I eat so much sugar? Why am I constantly on social media? Why don’t I read my Bible more? Why don’t I spend more time with my kids?
Or on a heavier note—why do I cause arguments with my wife? Why do I judge others? Why am I hypocritical? Why do I compare my standard of living to others? Why do I question God?
All of it. Why? It’s pretty frustrating.
What makes it downright confusing is that, as a Christian, I am a “new creation.” The old has gone and the new has come, right?
So now I have to ask myself: Why does the “new” me look so much like the old me? What am I missing? How do I truly change?
If there’s one person who knew about change, it was the apostle Paul. The dude literally went from seeking out and killing Christians to planting churches and preaching the Gospel. It doesn’t get much better than that. However, he struggled with the same thing many of us do. You can read about it in a letter he wrote to the Romans.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Romans 7:15-19 NIV
It’s like he read a page out of my journal.
What I’ve found is that I was going about change all wrong. I was simply treating symptoms of my core problem: I need to fully surrender to God and ground my identity in Christ. I had to change the way I change. That was it. It was the simple life hack I’d been searching for. I didn’t need to change a thousand symptoms. I needed to change my heart and my eyes. Ready to change the way you change? It only takes two steps. (I told you this was a simple life hack!)
- Change how you think. The kind of change that brings about life transformation starts in the mind. When the Bible talks about making a real turnaround, it uses the word “repentance.” It comes from the Greek word metanoia, which literally means “a change of mind.” Our thoughts dictate our actions. That’s why it’s so important to read or listen to God’s word every single day. It’s like reprogramming your thoughts. Allow God’s truth to begin to renew your mind in a way that allows you to see the world as He sees it, to see yourself the way He sees you, and to accept and love others the way you’ve experienced His acceptance and love.
- Change where you look. I’ve tried to fix myself in the past by looking for new habits, diets, accountability, and counseling. Here’s the thing—each of those are good, but absent of Christ the changes they bring about rarely last for the long haul. I’m not looking for another self-help program; I’m looking for eternal transformation. Daily seeking, depending, and listening to Christ is where it’s at. Paul affirms this later in the same passage from his letter to the Romans we read earlier.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! … Romans 7:24-25 NIV
Here’s the beautiful picture: When you’re looking at Christ and following where He leads, you’re automatically walking away from those things our sinful, human nature is so easily drawn to. See how that works? Amazing! And that’s it. Changing how you change is the simple life hack. It’s simple, not easy. But it’s the pathway. If you want to experience transformation, you’ve got to change the way you change. So, new year, new me? Nah. When you change how you think and change where you look, it’s more like new year, less me. And that’s a good thing.