THE WOMAN LOOKED A LITTLE LOST. She was wandering around in the adjoining yards behind my house. Nothing weird about that. One of the houses was up for sale, and the lady – in her 30’s I’d say – was looking it over.
I walked over to say hello, and she told me she was hoping to move into a new neighborhood.
I thought that was an odd way of putting it. But she explained she was having some trouble with her teenage son and she felt that her family needed a fresh start.
People who know me fairly well know that I don’t have much of a filter. I generally say what comes to mind. Not this time.
It would’ve hurt the lady.
What came to mind was a question: “Is your problem with a place or a person?”
If the problem is a place, then a move might help.
But if you are the problem, wherever you go you take yourself with you.
And if the problem is someone in your family, wherever you go you take that person with you.
That’s no way to fix the problem. That’s the way to dig it up and replant it in someone else’s backyard.
Mine, in this case.
It didn’t happen. The lady and her son did not move into the house. It may have been a matter of money, since she said she thought she might not be able to afford the place.
I confess. I was a bit relieved. Teenagers, under the best of circumstances, still manage to provide an excellent argument for housing developments that admit only adults.
Under less optimal circumstances, they help provide employment for Steel City Corporation workers in Ashland, Ohio. That’s where steelworkers make mailboxes that hyper-energized teenagers sometimes use for batting practice. They hit two of mine for homeruns in the past year. Most recently, last Friday.
I don’t want to leave you with the bad news that whoever you are and wherever you go you’re stuck with yourself. Or your teenager.
We can change.
Not by moving from where we are. But by moving from who we are.
We pick a new direction in our life. The further we go in that new direction, the further we move away from who we were.
The apostle Paul talked about doing that. He decided to follow the teachings of Jesus, wherever it took him, and to whatever kind of person it would make of him.
“I am not perfect,” he admitted. “But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven,” (Philippians 3:12-14).
When we’re feeling stuck with ourselves – afraid that wherever we go we’re going to take our crappy selves with us – maybe we should pick a new direction. A direction with less crap.
Paul picked the direction of Jesus, choosing to follow his teachings of treating others the way we want others to treat us. Paul figured that direction would lead him all the way to Jesus.
We Christians are counting on the hope that Paul got that right.
Even in those moments when we’re feeling stuck with ourselves, we believe there’s a better road ahead – and a better us.