Changing This Girl’s American Dream

Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes.
~ David Bowie “Changes”

Ever since I became a practicing disciple of Jesus, going on about 15 years now, I have been struck by how non-intuitive Jesus is for me, a middle-aged woman, who is a product of American culture and mores, including The American Dream. Gratefully, the more I get to know Jesus, the more things tend to make sense from His vantage-point, and the more comfortable I grow with trusting Him with the times when life doesn’t make sense. Jesus is just so much bigger than the setting in which I’ve gotten to know and love Him. And His big ideas include the uncomfortable and the unseen—acts of change and faith in the walk of following Him.

Just last Sunday, our pastor clarified the meaning of the word “disciple”. To be a disciple of Jesus is to not only follow Him, but to be changed by Him, so that we can be engaged in others’ lives, investing in them while the Holy Spirit changes their hearts.

When my heart is truly softened, I know that in order to be like Jesus, utter dependence upon and surrender to Him is key to the abundant life He wants for me. I know that in order to be more like Him, I might will suffer as He suffered. So how does this life change really look? Well, it actually turns my American Dream upside down.

I don’t know about you—maybe you don’t know Jesus—welcome! But for me, while being a disciple of Jesus is the best thing I’ve ever done, it has also been THE STRANGEST THING EVER! To one who was raised by a single mom to be as independent as possible (never depending on a man because, gurrl, they will let you down), and with the pulling oneself up by one’s boot straps mentality, relying fully on anyone, especially one whom I couldn’t see, hear or touch made about as much sense as running into a busy street to play. Why? Because I’m not used to looking with an eternal focus. I’m used to counting the cost and protecting myself, since it was always my understanding that unless I looked out for me, no one else would.

It’s so much easier to focus inwardly. To resist change. To hold fast to control. To keep the circle of trust love and care small and insulated from the ugliness of the world. Because there is ugliness. People are hard to love (not me, mind you, but “people”)—they can be rude, ungrateful, different, and possibly, scary. Oh, and I don’t know about you, but I like to be first in line, go first class, and, if I’m completely honest, live in my first world country with all its first world problems. In short, I like my comforts and American Dream, thankyouverymuch.

But I love Jesus more. He has been far more faithful in my own life than I could ever ask for or imagine, unless I had lived it. He is so good. So…daily, I ask him to give me a heart of flesh in place of my heart of stone. I ask Him to help me change from the inside out, so that I may:

  • Serve widows and children
  • Love the poor and the foreigner – who are my neighbors
  • Pray for and give mercy to my enemies
  • Respect Authority
  • Release my control (which is so tightly entwined with my pride) and trust in His plans
  • Set aside my comfort for His peace

In short, so that I may seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly by His side.

With a changed heart, I see that worldly success is fine, but that the most successful people in this life are those with eyes on their eternal prize – living with God forever.

So how about you? Have you turned to face the strange ch-ch-changes?

Change my heart, Oh God
Make it ever true
Change my heart Oh God
May I be like You.

You are the potter
I am the clay
Mold me and make me
This is what I pray

               ~Eddie Espinosa (Change My Heart, Oh God)

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Gretchen Hanna
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Gretchen Hanna

Gretchen has blogged for the last nine years, usually tying her faith to her reality, and has guest posted or written for Believe.com, JeanPSullivan.com and other blogs. It’s her honor to be among the writers on Grace & Such, and she is currently not only found here and at Jewels In My Crown Someday, but is also holding hands open for other writing (blogging and otherwise) and speaking opportunities as she waits upon God’s unfolding plans for her.
Gretchen Hanna
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8 thoughts on “Changing This Girl’s American Dream

  1. Bev

    It’s always refreshing, or better said, life-giving, to hear others open their hearts and share unguardedly. Having grown up in survival mode, it became a deeply engrained habit to just survive – to do whatever it took to get by, and don’t overthink it. Trusting someone else with calling the shots has been and will likely always be hard for me, and likely you too. My husband sometimes complains about it, i.e. those times when I think it, plan it, and run over him with it – whatever ‘it’ is. Christ doesn’t complain but I’m pretty confident he’s too often in the wings watching, thinking, Oh girl, if you’d just slow down, let me lead. When I actually succeed in doing that the path is often different than I expected, generally much bumpier, but as I learn to lean in I sometimes see that it takes me to a place that is right for me. I know you’ve had some of these same experiences, had to figure out how to open your hand and let go of what you thought you were going to get to hold. In my experience it never gets a lot easier, but it’s a sweet experience when, once in awhile, I get a glimpse of how much better his ways are than mine. How patient He is, how gracious as I oh so slowly change into the woman he’s planned for me to be. One day at a time!

    Reply

    1. Gretchen

      I had no idea we were twins, Bev. Actually, I suspected as much. 2016 is our year to hug necks, have a cuppa/glass-a and laaaaaaugh. I got a kid going to school 8 miles from the ID border, so it’ll happen. And maybe Sarah could take us to a favorite quilting/knitting place and then I’d never leave. Appreciate your words, so. xxxooo

      Reply

  2. Jen

    “It’s so much easier to focus inwardly. To resist change. To hold fast to control. To keep the circle of trust love and care small and insulated from the ugliness of the world.” Get out of my head. xoxo

    Reply

    1. Gretchen

      No can do. 🙂 Or, I will if you will.

      Reply

  3. Denise

    Gretchen,
    It’s funny how when we give God the wheel and allow Him to change us into the person He wants us to be, our stubborn pride flairs up. However, as you’ve stated, the rewards for allowing Him to give us a “heart of flesh” puts us in a position to not only operate through His change in us, but to deflect that heart and change on to others He puts on our path. Thank you for sharing change in relation to your American Dream.

    Reply

    1. Gretchen

      Appreciate your stopping by, Denise! Thank you for your kind words. That heart of stone to a heart of flesh thing? Daily struggle. 🙂 But.so.worth.it.

      Reply

  4. Bel McCoy

    After living 76 years since being saved at Lake Sammamish Bible Camp, the Lord Jesus has become so very precious. Been a widow for 14 years so have had to learn to read the Word and pray myself instead of expecting my godly husband to take care of that. How good it is to hear of others trusting day by day to be more like the Lord!!! Since the Lord hates pride….it must be very ugly in His sight.

    Reply

    1. Gretchen

      Thank you for your words, Bel! I’m not a widow, but I do have a spouse who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus, and it’s true: we have to read and pray, ourselves, for our relationship with the Father is our responsibility (and our great joy!). Appreciate your stopping by!

      Reply

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