Every story is about one thing, the arc of the character. What I mean by that is unless the hero changes, you’ve got no story. They have to be cowardly at the beginning and brave at the end, or selfish at the beginning and altruistic at the end. Something in the character has to change or the audience loses interest.
The reason an audience is attracted to a character that changes is because, intuitively, they sense their own desire to change and live vicariously through the character arc of the hero. That’s one of the many reasons we love movies.
But that brings up a powerful point.
You were designed to change.
And if you think about it, it’s irrefutable. Everything God created, from poppies to puppies, changes. Nothing stays the same even for a second. Grass grows, clouds wisp by, water flows into the ocean, guys grow beards, girls become women, and some of them moms and grandmas. Everything God made is always in motion. The only things that aren’t changing are, by definition, dead.
It’s true of you and me, too. Remember the first time you went back home after going off to college? Or that first time you went back home after a long, summer adventure?
There was likely a dissonance. Suddenly, after a series of experiences that had changed you, you went back and felt a chasm between the way people were treating you and who you really were.
They hadn’t realized you’d changed.
In fact, you likely “felt” like the same person you used to be. Even in their thirties, some people spend the night back in their family home and want to let everybody know they made their bed that morning.
For some, that God-given, pre-programmed process of change is stunted. And it’s stunted for several reasons, all of which should be ignored.
Here are a couple of the big ones:
- Other people don’t want you to change because the relationship they have with you is comfortable. If you change (become successful, famous, strong or whatever) their relationship with you has to change. So it’s not in their best interest for you to change.
- Other people have a relationship with you in which you play an inferior role. If you change, they are no longer comfortable because they really like you because you’re submissive.
- Some people need you to play the role you’ve always played in their lives, a support role or a child’s role or whatever. You changing means that role will no longer be fulfilled and they find this threatening.
Here’s something I learned, though.
People who don’t change anyway become mentally unhealthy. They become weak and lack integration. By that I mean inwardly they begin to change but to keep the peace play an outward role. This, by nature, is a lack of integrity (the inner self integrated with the outer self) and will be the end of you. Healthy people are integrated and unhealthy people are not.
So what do we do about all this? How do we change anyway?
Of course each situation demands its own course of action, but in general, in the grandest of sweeping terms, we must be willing to make others uncomfortable to become who we were meant to be.
This is God’s path for us.
And God is fine with us making other people uncomfortable. He does it all the time.
Sometimes this means people you used to see as wise counselors will now have to accept you as an equal. Sometimes it means those you submit to will have to deal with your new found authority and autonomy.
It’s true some people won’t be comfortable with this. They’ve made an unspoken agreement with you that you need to be weak. But that’s not an agreement you should keep. They may want out of the relationship and in my opinion that’s a relationship you should let go of. Nothing should stop you from changing.
If a caterpillar becomes a butterfly and a seed becomes a tomato and a babbling baby grows up to become a prolific professor, all by design, what were you supposed to become?
So what’s stopping you from changing?