While you can yet still choose to change.

The more you age the more you gain wisdom, and the more you ossify.  This is hardly news to an osteologist, or a psychologist, but it may be news to a theologist.

Well, perhaps it isn’t, and I just wanted to string together words ending in “ologist” of which I have now exhausted my paltry store.

The more I read, the more phrases are thrown into the ocean of subconscious, and the more surprised I am when some smaller bits of driftwood work their way out of the riptide of general themes and onto the beach.

I read the book, Surprised by Hope earlier in the year, and though it’s addition to my conscious brain largely reoriented my perceptions about life’s best works lasting eternally and the restoration of soul and body, another small sentence has worked itself free from the waves and come to lodge into my daily living.

Perhaps I can’t even quote it exactly, but it goes a little like this, “But who says you’ll have the choice to change later anyway.”

Although a good chunk of growing up has meant sacrificing the ability to do everything, it has also meant that I understand I couldn’t do everything anyway.  The more conscious pigeonholing I do in my life, the more capacity for sadness and profound joy.

But you probably know that already.

What I didn’t know already, is that as life progresses there are some choices which you might not even be able to consider anymore.  This isn’t along the lines of choosing to have your own biological kid when you’re a woman in your 60’s.  To use a Christian cliché, it’s talk about hardened hearts.  Contemplating ways of thinking that aren’t yours.

A couple weeks ago in church my pastor told the story about an old man in his 90’s who was recounting his life story to a volunteer at the assisted living facility where he stayed.  The volunteer said to him, “Wow, you’ve certainly lived through a lot of change in your life” and the man replied “Yep.  And I’ve been against every one of them.”

That man was calcified.  But he had done so long before he hit his nineties, before his bones had hardened his mind had hardened.  These choices now, well, not to make them seem more weighty than they already are, but you might not get a chance to make them again, and you certainly won’t get a chance to make them in the same way.


Author: Beth M

I love new ideas & information, connecting people, and discovering New England adventures.

1 thought on “While you can yet still choose to change.”

  1. Beth, first allow me to complement your lucid prose–quite impressive. Second, the degree to which theologians recognize change varies from theologian to theologian. As science reveals more and more about the neurological net behind which stands the human mind it has become clear, as Wright notes, that people can and do change. The primary issue is intentionality and effort. With each choice the neurological predilection towards a specific behavior increases making an action more likely to occur. To change this requires a reorientation or “opening of a new neurological chasm” that is slowly ingrained. People don’t realize that to change a habit will, at minimum, require as much dedication and time as it did to develop it in the first place. The difference is that most habits are formed unintentionally, and habits formed without intentionality or “discipline” are bad habits. We also become attached to them–especially bad cognitive habits such as pride. This is why critical thinking is important because it is a perpetual reconsideration and re-evaluation of the world around us that seeks to understand what constitutes reality and truth, both of which are static and ever changing realities. I could go on, but I think the point is clear. There is a point of departure where the apathetic mind checks out from choosing not to do the work that is required, to being a mind that cannot escape apathy–even if it wanted too. I think this is the kind of thing Aristotle had in mind when he said “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

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