I grew up in Louisiana. The one thing you could count on is if an old man gives you advice while peeling pieces of an apple with a knife, and eats the pieces right off the blade-you should probably take it. I ran into one of these old men. He said to me,
“You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.”
That was it. That was all he said. He just kept eating his apples like a psychopath. What does that mean? I need more info. Is this the beginning of my quest? My training isn’t complete. Please help me more ‘Mr. Old Man‘.
‘Change’ the people around you
You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you. I thought about this for a long time. I came up with my own solutions after much prayer and meditation. There are people in your life that are going to be there. You can’t physically get rid of them-technically you could but you would probably be doing a life sentence in prison if you did. For example, at one point I thought it would be a pretty good idea to have a child of my own. It sounded like a great idea at the time. After a while, you just realize children are like broke best friends.
Now that everyone is socially isolating because of the COVID-19, I am seriously questioning my life choices. I can’t change out one of my kids for a better version or Kid 2.0. However, I can help mold their behavior by how I respond to this crisis. Am I panicking and buying 17 packages of toilet paper? Am I still going to events and functions and openly dismissing expert opinions on how to social distance myself and family? My children see all of this. Imagine someone with a nervous child before all this COVID-19 stuff happened. They will respond based on how we respond.
Now imagine my children see me praying on a regular basis. They see my declaring victory out loud over sickness and disease. They hear me listening to praise and worship music, and I always show a positive attitude around them. They see me helping others in my neighborhood who might have lost a job and don’t have enough to eat. They see me encouraging my spouse and others daily. Imagine how their perspective and attitude would change after seeing me be Christ-like? You can’t change who lives next to you or who you work with. But how about being possibly the only bible they get to read by viewing your actions. Be the change you want to see and model a life that Christ would be happy to call you his child.
Change the ‘people’ around you
Have you ever woken up in the morning, got dressed, started your car and the loudest most adrenaline-filled music blasts in your ear? And you’re like, “Calm down, I’m not the same person I was last night.” There are some people in your life that live a lifestyle that would not mesh well with your Christ-like lifestyle. These aren’t fringe friends or associates. They are close friends or maybe even family members. No matter how much you try to show them you aren’t the same person you were “last night” they are determined to keep you on their level. You try to change their behavior for the better, but they just aren’t cooperating.
After a certain point, you realize you just can’t change this person. At this point, you can exchange that person out with someone else who will help you to grow as a Christian. This is a hard thing to do. Especially if it is someone you love. You can still love them from a distance, but instead of clubbing and bar hopping, you replace them with someone who wants you to go to family game night and small group. Instead of gossiping, you change them with someone who will pray with you and find solutions.
Don’t let them ruin your life. Eventually, they will see that you are a new creature.
The old man didn’t offer any guidance with his advice, but I had my bible with me and Hebrews 13:8 says,
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
So if it seems like there is a lot of change going on, or a lot of change is needed in your life, you can find comfort in that. The next time you are eating an apple or see an old man just remember you can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.
Prescott Williamson is a Bible-believing Christian. He is a husband, a father, and someone who believes that there is a little humor to be found in whatever situation God sends your way. He was born in the small islands of the Bahamas but now lives in the Suburbs of Fort Worth Texas, which is basically the same thing. He enjoys TV, reading, blogging and serving in his church (especially on the days they serve donuts). You can see what I have been thinking about lately on my blog www.prescottascoolbreeze.com.