Bob went away on a weekend Men’s Retreat. While there, he engaged in discussions about work, family, relationships, on being a good father, husband, co-worker. He came away from the weekend, refreshed, energized and ready to be the man he decided he wanted to be.
Alice is finishing up her last week at the rehab center. Alcohol had controlled her life for almost a decade and is now preparing a new life with a new perspective.
After two weeks working with Street Children in Romania Claire and Tom return with a new vigor on life and a new perspective on what is important. They walk in their lavish middle class home, disgusted at the plethora of clothes and shoes in their closets, the abundance of food sitting in their pantry and begin to clean house. Meanwhile a group of Romanian kids gather in the playground trying to recreate the games they played with foreigners over the past two weeks.
Significant events have happened in each of the lives of the people above. But did change happen?
Learning occurred, perspectives influenced, but in each case, more times than not, there will be a change in behavior for a short time, a few days, maybe, but rarely a couple of weeks. Then behavior will return to what it was before. Bob will go back to old habits, Alice will continue to struggle against her temptations, Claire and Tom will replenish their clothes and the street kids will return to the streets.
What is happening here is not change but learning. Each were given a new perspective, insight, or a vision of what could be and for some reason, we accept that as change.
Yet, unless the conditions that helped create the former situation are dealt with; unless support structures are put in place to guide the change from vision to reality; unless discipline is instituted which provides accountability to reinforce the change, change will NEVER happen.
Everything is the way it is because conditions support it to be that way. Your special relationship claims change, the government claims change, even you claim change for yourself, but unless steps are taken to destroy the infrastructure that created what is, and replaced it with a new one to support what will be, it will never work, regardless of intentions.
That change would be seen in severing relationships, creating a new social network, changing daily routines, giving new authority to existing relationships, and committing to new behavior until it becomes habit.
Whether your change is personal, relational, organizational, communal, or even national, don’t fool yourself; vision is not change, but a pre-cursor to it.
Change is not merely a decision, it is a full restructuring process.