People Change

The tears flow more easily these days.  I can’t explain it.  It’s not as if there’s any good reason—a daughter’s wedding for instance, or a totaled vintage sports car.

I apologized for embarrassing the Lovely Lady at the concert the other night.  She just smiled and suggested that it doesn’t bother her at all.  I’m going to take her at her word.

The concert?  Oh, it was just a performance of the choir from the local university—an encore of their annual spring break tour material for the folks in our little town.  

I used to detest choral music.  I thought I was supposed to hate it.  I grew up in the sixties and seventies, an era of rock and roll, and disco, with a little Take Me Home, Country Roads mixed in.  

We didn’t listen to choral music.

choir-408422_640But, people change.

The other night, I sat and listened to the young voices raised in harmony and let the tears roll down my cheeks without bothering to wipe them dry.  

What beauty!  What astounding beauty!

I was especially overwhelmed by one particular song—no, not the song—the singers.  Two young ladies sang a duet, really solos which blended with each other seamlessly.  The piece was written for two sopranos, and was quite high.  The young ladies were up to the task and the result was spectacular—a performance to listen to again and again.  

But—and this is odd—I remember reading that one of the sopranos had been an alto singer when she entered the university’s vocal program.  A low alto.  And here she was singing a gorgeous duet way up in the high range of the female voice.  

What happened?

People change.

I sat at the dinner table with a few folks the other day.  The portions of dessert which were served had been generous.  The Lovely Lady noticed one of our guests was struggling to finish his too-large serving and mentioned that she wouldn’t be insulted if he couldn’t finish.

“We don’t require people at our table to clean their plates,” I added lightly.

My adult son jerked his face toward me in surprise.  

“That’s not how I remember it used to be,” he said in a voice filled with mock-hurt.

I immediately saw scenes of battles-of-the-wills—little boy refusing his mashed potatoes—Dad insisting he eat at least a no-thank-you helping of the vile things—and I cringed inwardly.  He was only half-serious now, and yet the images are inked indelibly on my brain.  His too, I suppose.

Hanging my head a little, I replied.  “I hope I’m always growing and doing things better than I used to.”

He laughed.  “I’m not horribly scarred from the experience, you know.”

We laughed together.  Still, the truth remains—at least I hope it does.

People change.

It is not always the case.  An old friend and I stood today, talking about an acquaintance who passed away recently.  My friend remembered the fellow as a teenager—headstrong, angry, and resistant to improvement.

As we talked, suddenly both of us fell quiet, thinking about the same thing.

“It’s funny,” my friend said.  “He was just like that until the day he died.”

It’s not really that funny.  Some people don’t change.  

I think that’s just plain sad.

Lest you think I’m talking about us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, and earning our own salvation, let me assure you, I’m not.  That’s not the point at all.  

Our redemption and adoption into the Family of God are guaranteed by one thing and one thing only—the grace of a loving God who Himself became the sacrifice necessary to satisfy the requirement of holiness and justice.  

We are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus.  Period.  (Ephesians 2:8)

We don’t stay there without moving, though.  Our journey through life continues on.  We are presented with choices at every twist and turn.

We grow.  We walk and we learn.  We become, it is to be hoped, more like our Savior as we journey on.  Prompted by the Spirit, we leave our old rags behind, and are dressed in His clothes.

People change.

The girl who thought she was limited to the low range of the female voice submitted herself to her mentor’s instruction and now sings with a range most of us can’t imagine.  It’s a good thing,  a very good thing.

The old man who once demanded perfection of his children and would not open up his ears to different melodies and harmonies than those with which he was comfortable is finally learning a more gentle manner and a wider repertoire.

More changes will come.  At least, it is to be hoped more changes are in the future.

What a shame for a man to die in his obstinance.  How does the gentleness of our Savior not compel us to become gentle?  How does His love not move us to be loving?

People change.  And, they should.

Perhaps, even that sentence should be modified.  It won’t take much to change its meaning.  Two punctuation marks. 

People, change!

 

Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.
(Fyodor Dostoyevsky ~ Russian novelist ~ 1821-1881)

 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ~ NIV)

 

 

 

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

One thought on “People Change

  1. Loved it, Paul. I had an aunt who though a wonderful person took to the grave with her a resentment she had. Sometimes I wonder if they need to make caskets bigger for the things we made a part of us. When I saw her unwillingness to let it go, it was convicting and I pray that God will help me if I have any resentments kind of dangling on me. You’re right, some people change. I’m so glad that God doesn’t change. That I can count on him though everything around me could change in a moment.

    On a lighter note, I am so much more tolerant of things than I was as a mother. One time we were at a friend’s house and my son who was fourteen at the time was playing all these songs on their piano. My mouth dropped and I said, “Nathan, I didn’t know you could play those!”

    His response was, “You’ve always got me under headphones.”

    Oh the things we miss.

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