BY: Giovanna Gomez
BIBLE TEXT: Matthew 19:16-22:
Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
“Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” the man asked.
And Jesus replied: “You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?” Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
PERSONAL REFLECTION: I’m a social worker. Over 85% of my job revolves around helping people accomplish change in their life. When I say “helping” what I really mean is that I come alongside individuals and accompany them as they make changes. I have absolutely zero power to force change or make it happen. In fact, the times when I have tried to force change, I have failed miserably.
Change is such an interesting concept. Most people who are desiring change cannot accomplish it without first going through a stage of ambivalence. Some folks stay in the ambivalent stage forever, arguing with themselves and others about the merits of the change and why they should or should not do it, and unfortunately never move forward. Other folks though don’t stay in the ambivalent state and are able to leap and move ahead. I want to make it clear before you keep reading that I am not an expert on change by any means. However, I can tell you that based on my experience that there is a common theme found within the people who stay stuck in ambivalence and don’t move forward. They all have the “Yes, but…” Syndrome.
So what is the “Yes, but…” Syndrome? The “Yes, but…” Syndrome is the self talk and the public conversations individuals have about their change process.
“Yes, I really want to stop smoking, but life is too stressful right now and I’ve tried before and failed.”
“Yes, I really should lose weight, but every diet I have tried does not work.”
“Yes, I really want to be more involved at church, but I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere.”
“Yes, I want a better job, but I just don’t have enough experience.”
Sound familiar? The reason people cannot get past their ambivalent struggle is that they have convinced themselves that what comes after the word, “but” is the truth. While they desperately want to change, they see whatever circumstance comes after “but” as a fixed obstacle that nothing or no one can remove, leaving no room for hope, or faith, or God.
The rich young man in the scripture above had the “Yes, but…” Syndrome. “Yes, I want to have eternal life, but I have a lot of good stuff that I don’t want to give up.” I have no doubt that this young man’s desire for change was real. However, he had already convinced himself that what was required was too hard. How sad! He missed out on the real treasure.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: What is your struggle? What words are you saying after the word, “but?” Think about it. With God’s guidance and help you can overcome anything and everything that comes after the word, “but.” God is way more powerful than any circumstance or any physical or emotional condition. DON’T LIMIT HIM WITH YOUR WORDS AND THOUGHTS!
Father God, please forgive me for my doubt. Help me to have faith to move forward and achieve your perfect will for my life. Holy Spirit, speak to me and allow me to hear Your voice.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Giovanna has been blissfully married to Hubert for 26 years. They are parents to Andrew, who married Evelyn last April, and to Rachel who is a junior at the University of Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. They have been citizens of Life Assembly since 2005. Giovanna is a social worker–a profession she loves. She enjoys hiking, gardening, and eating tasty food at restaurants with friends. They are part of the “Tweeners” Life Group, led by Chuck & Stephanie Benson.
“Knowledge without transformation is not wisdom.” -P. Coelho