Turning the Page

A Change In Behavior, A Change In the Mind

May 15, 2022

We want a behavior change, but it doesn’t seem to happen. However, it will happen with many changes in the mind (repentance).

We always notice significant behavior change, don’t we? Yet, people who change dramatically are often given the stage and a microphone to trumpet the difference. I remember as a child listening to a story of a gang member and how he met Jesus, and his life was turned around.

We marvel at how this happened. It’s always the dramatic change we notice because it’s so obvious.

But I think some of the greatest stories of change happen over a much more extended period. It might be years, not days.

It’s safer to do it in small incremental shifts when you want to change course on an ocean-going cruise liner than in sudden sharp rudder turns. This change is so subtle that no one on board even notices.

If we were to take a long view back over your life and observe how you have changed, I think the subtle and unseen influences have changed you the most. Those slight course corrections add up over time. The changes in behavior are so tiny that we and others hardly even notice them.

That’s where journaling can be so revealing. Looking back over past journals to see how we thought and behaved even a few years ago can be very revealing.

Repentance, with a little ‘r.’

Some words are loaded with emotional baggage—loaded terms. You hear a word, and the brain immediately adds specific values and beliefs.

In the faith world, it could be words such as God, Church, Sin, Heaven, Hell, Pastor, etc.

You hear these words, and immediately, there is a visceral, internal emotional response. You attach a specific response and meaning to that word, possibly because that particular word was always connected with certain other words and emotions when you were learning the language.

One of those words for me, and I think for many others, is ‘repentance.’ It was always attached with negative consequences.

  • ‘If you don’t repent, your going to hell.’
  • ‘If you don’t repent, God will be angry with you.’
  • ‘You haven’t repented, and that’s why these bad things are happening.’

Repentance was loaded with guilt, shame, control, and fear.

But the Greek word metanoia,  translated as ‘repent’ in the Bible, means ‘to change your mind.’

Repentance can be seen as those minor changes of the mind. As small as all the minor alterations to a car’s steering wheel as you drive down the road. Hardly noticeable but absolutely necessary.


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