“But we cannot change anyone else; we can change only ourselves and then usually only when the elements that are in need of reform have become conscious through their reflection in someone else.”
—M. Esther Harding.
Esther Harding explains so concisely how we change. We often recognize the parts of ourselves that need changing only as they are reflected in others. We say, “This is awful. I certainly do not want to be like that.” Then, through some unknown factor, perhaps God’s Grace, we realize that character defect, that sin, that failing is also in us. I often find myself not wanting to be around a certain person. That is sometimes a clue that he or she is carrying a trait that I do not recognize in myself; but seeing it in the other person, I am repulsed by it. The reverse side of this truth is that sometimes the people we most admire carry a gift we do not recognize in ourselves.
I also know from 12-step work how people change. They hit bottom. They become so overwhelmed by their condition, so “sick and tired” of how miserable their life is that they will do anything to change.
So what does all this have to do with our life in the Spirit? My experience is that it is indeed the Spirit, the Christ, the God within us that leads us to change, that whispers in our ear that those defects we acknowledge in others may also be in us—that a better life is possible for us. Those in 12-step programs call it a “moment of clarity.” I believe that moment of clarity is God speaking to us; and at that point we find ourselves in a position to listen. Finally we are able to hear with “the ear of our heart.”