Last time we spoke about how unless a person is ready to change, they won’t. It takes more than wishful thinking or a “genie in a bottle approach” to lasting change. And what finally brings a person to a point of wanting change is as different as each of our personalities. It could be a health scare. Wanting to get pregnant. Or maybe you’re simply tired of being sick and tired.
Everyone’s reason for change is different, but there is one common denominator that I want to talk about today … one approach, no matter how loving the intentions, that doesn’t work for creating permanent change and that is attempting to coerce someone into change. Whether you call it motivation, accountability, or encouragement, it simply doesn’t work, and more often than not, backfires.
I’ve been married for over two decades. My earliest memories of emotional eating started at age 6. I’ve been dealing with this mountain for twice as long as I’ve known my husband. Never once since I’ve known him has he “motivated” me to lose weight.
While an accountability partner is crucial (in my opinion) for real change to occur, I wouldn’t advise that partner being your spouse. In my case, had my husband taken on that role, I would have found ways to manipulate the situation, taken sneaking food to a whole new level, and further self-sabotaged any lasting change.
However, I think a spouse is probably the best person for the role of supporter. And my husband is amazing! This past spring I finally desired true change more than circling the mountain. I got crystal clear on what my goals were, asked for accountability from someone else who wanted to see permanent change in her life, and began new hobbies as well as changed my lifestyle to reflect my new goals. Then I started taking one step at a time toward accomplishing that permanent change in my life, and my husband has been my biggest support.
It started with a simple request. “I’ve decided I’m going to walk at least 15 minutes a day. Will you walk with me?” We have faithfully walked (almost) every day for over 2 ½ months. There have been a few days where we didn’t fit it in, but then we’ve walked additionally other days to make up for it. And the 15 minutes a day has stretched into (usually) 30 minutes a day. It’s become something I look forward too. Something our whole family seems to look forward to it. One or another child will ask, “Are we ready to go for our walk?”
Don’t get me started on our dog. If he sees us putting on tennis shoes, or even thinks we’re getting up to put on our shoes, he goes crazy. If you say, “You wanna go for a walk?,” he whines until we snap on the leash and open the door. He comes home happy, tired, and ready to sleep the rest of the night.
Walking at least 15 minutes a day was one of a series of permanent changes I’ve made in my life. And as a result, the scale has been going down instead of steadily rising. It’s not about the scale, though. It’s about permanent change. It’s about me wanting to live my best life for God first and foremost, my family second, and to accomplish the goals God has given me in this life third with a healthy body.
I want to publicly thank my husband for his consistent, unconditional support ever since I’ve known him. I’m a slow learner but I so appreciate him choosing support instead of “manipulative motivation.”
Is there someone in your life who needs your support? It may not be regarding an addiction. Maybe they’re walking through a hard season and need an extra hand. Maybe they are attempting a new career and it would mean the world for them to know someone is rooting for them. Who in your life could use your support?
And with support also comes grace. Failure is part of the journey to permanent change. But it’s not really failure when we’re given grace to see the mistakes made so we can work on a better choice the second time around. If we’re learning from the mistake, then it’s not a failure, it’s a learning experience. And people tend to learn better when they are covered in grace.
Who in your life needs grace right now? As God’s children, He is constantly helping us to get rid of the old and become more like Christ. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re not going to get it right all the time. That’s why our Father loves to give grace abundantly while we’re learning. I know I want to be more like Him. Who in your life needs grace from you right now?
© Cheri Swalwell 2021