Who you are is who you will be (but you can change)

One of the main ideas in Practicing the Way by John Mark Comer is that each of us – “religious” or not – is following something and allowing that thing to change us.

The book reiterates that the question isn’t, are you a disciple? But what are you a disciple of? Not do you have faith? but what do you have faith in?

Not are you being formed or changed? But who or what are you being formed into?

Comer gives a great example for that last idea:

Case in point: elderly people. Most people over the age of eighty are either the best or the worst people you know.

They are either the happiest, most joyful, loving, and sweet people ever who are just happy to be in the room. Or, they are the most spiteful, mean, pessimistic people in the world, he accurately explains. There’s a reason that’s true: “They’ve spent their entire lives becoming that person,” Comer writes. The mean old man at the end of the block wasn’t always the mean old man at the end of the block. He probably had an amazing family, a loving wife, and a job he loved. But then life did its thing; some awful things happened, leaving him bitter and angry. As the years and feelings compounded, he became who he is.

The sweet old couple next door wasn’t always the sweet old couple next door. They used to fight all of the time and were once on the verge of getting a divorce! But they sought counsel, worked through their problems, and learned to love each other. As the years, feelings, and lessons compounded, they became who they are. So, who are you becoming?

Are you becoming the mean old man who yells at kids, reports people to your neighborhood watch, and refuses to leave your house to spend time with family because you’d rather stay home and go to bed early? Or are you becoming the type of person curious about the younger generation and glad to see your growing brood multiply (along with your commitments)? Are you becoming the over-protective snowplow parent, ensuring your sweet little baby never faces a problem or obstacle alone? Or are you becoming the parent who loves your kid and understands heartbreak, frustration, and mistakes are the only ways they’ll learn how the real world works?

Who are you becoming?

You’re becoming somebody. Change is inevitable; it happens to everyone. But becoming the person you want to be is not. Becoming who you desire takes effort, hard work, and consistency.

Trace your current habits, attitudes, and actions over the next fifty years. Do you like who you see on the other side? Or is it time for some changes?

(I’m writing this for myself because, currently, I’m in the mean old man who likes to stay home and calls teenagers “hoodlums.”)