Monday, August 23, 2010

Change and Loss...

I had a discussion with a friend today about the Bible and Vegetarianism. We were specifically talking about a passage in Genesis and had opposing views. It turned out that I was wrong about my initial interpretation and had to concede after some faulty reasoning that I was in fact errant. I had a similar conversation with my best friend Austin the other night when discussing the idea of constructing a Muslim Cultural Center near ground zero and the Constitutionality/Historical Christian view of the build. In similar fashion we came to the end of a heated conversation and I quietly stewed over my frustration with being wrong and then finally and quietly conceded.

Like anybody else, I found myself frustrated with being wrong in both instances. I hate being wrong. Plain and simple. I despise the gnawing sensation that sits heavy in my gut when I know that I've made an argument that I can't stand behind anymore. Losing an argument can sometimes feel like losing an arm. Its painful. What is fascinating is that sometimes I never concede just choosing to hold on to my pride in spite of the fact that I and everybody else knows that I'm way out of line.

I feel like I've recently learned why I act the way I do, and for that matter why so many people struggle to change, even when they know change is in order.

In Ronald Heifetz masterful work, Adaptive Leadership, the idea of change is discussed. He states...
"You know the adage 'People resist change.' It is not really true. People are not stupid. People love change when they know it is a good thing. No one gives back a winning lottery ticket. What people resist is not change per se, but loss. When change involves real or potential loss, people hold on to what they have and resist the change."

Loss, not Change. Fascinating, right?

So here is what I believe happens in conflict much like that which I experienced with my friends. Most of us cannot even imagine being wrong, not because being wrong means that we will have to change, but more appropriately because being wrong involves loss. Loss of rightness. Loss of an ideology that we hold dear. Potentially loss of respect. Loss of a way of life. And all of those things are difficult to endure. This is what makes change difficult. Most of us subconsciously resist change because we know that change will bring about loss.

I realizing that Jesus spoke about loss and the Kingdom on a pretty frequent basis. He was incredibly up front about the change and subsequent loss people would experience if they took hold of the kingdom. If you want to save your life, you'll lose it. If you wanna come after me, you have to take up your cross and follow me. You want the kingdom, sell everything you have and come follow me. You might not have a home and don't even think of burying your dad. But there's another aspect that we must always keep in mind.

On the other side of every loss is a new reality, a new cultural norm that in some circumstances is rather sad and isn't very redemptive, like losing your driver's licence when you're 80 and having to move into an assisted living home, but when it comes to Kingdom specifically it means finding life that is truly life. Maybe we need to get introspective from time to time and recognize as I have through the help of my friends, that being wrong and suffering the pain of humiliation or a loss of rightness, is actually wonderful when you get to know the truth on the other side.