To help the church grow in love and faithful witness to God, Pope Francis has…
This year, give yourself permission to be transformed boldly by God
There is a certain permission to improve ourselves that comes with a new year. It is as if we all got together and agreed to allow ourselves to dream. Every year, there is a conversation shift from gifts to goals. The season of giving transforms into the time of improvement. Talk of exercise, diets, prayer schedules, journals, planners and more begins to dominate the topics of discussion. People find themselves taking inventory of the habits in their life that they want to strengthen or drop. The majority of the population chooses a resolution with great hope. The excitement of the new year is invigorating and full of promise. The slate feels clean. The year is fresh. Any and all things are possible.
So why do so many people fail at the new goals they have set for the new year?
Change is not easy; it is not a hospitable experience. The effort and intention required for even the slightest adjustment is significant. Human beings are creatures of habit. This old cliché exists for a reason: because it is true. Familiarity equals comfort. People love to feel comfortable; they are attracted to the known.
For most of us, the uncertainty of the unknown is an overwhelming thought. Throughout history, we can see where people chose the easy path because it wasn’t a risk. There are numerous stories about citizens who watched crimes unfolding in front of them but chose to not engage due to risk. Safety for our physical body is reasonable and logical. But is this why we are unable to welcome change with ease? Simply because it is not known? That answer would be way too easy.
In my early 30s, I found myself at the shocking weight of 458 pounds. There is nothing comfortable about that number. The physical weight I carried came with a tremendous price tag. Being morbidly obese was not a cheap investment. I paid in every possible way. Financially, the food I consumed and the medicines I needed everyday were notable. My mental health suffered greatly. Emotionally, I was in a pause. Spiritually, I found myself unsatisfied. There was not a part of my life unaffected by my physical situation. I was miserable. However, the idea of transforming my current reality was completely crushing. There was no out. The only choice I had was to continue my life as it was in the present. This is what I had convinced myself, because the alternative sounded impossible.
Perhaps my biggest mistake before acknowledging the truth was assuming the only solution involved me alone. Never did it cross my mind that the Herculean task in front of me did not only include me in the solution. God was truly the only one I could turn to for companionship. No one I knew faced the same mountaintop I was facing. Many of my friends and family desperately wanted to help, but not one of them knew how, including me.
So, what did I need to begin this long journey? The answer was simple and one of the most powerful keys to unlocking success: I needed to give myself permission. Yet, before I could do that, I had to ask God to assist. Without hesitation, God began to place people in my life that would be instrumental in my changes. Once I understood that I had to allow God to work in my life through others, only then could I start to see small adjustments. I gave myself the permission to be helped.
So often we read heroic stories of the incredible human spirit. People share feats of physical strength or of their brave emotional dominance over a horrific situation. What we don’t hear is how or why they were able to do such extraordinary tasks. We assume they must be holier, stronger, richer, smarter, prettier or just overall better than ourselves. We are convinced that these other people are made of different DNA. We believe that God has shown them favor and skipped over us. How else could normal people be so magnificent? Or perhaps they were wired with more perseverance or fortitude. However, when we dig a little deeper, we learn that the individual we are admiring is not alone. Along the way, they allowed themselves to be taught, coached, counseled or trained through books, videos or people. They started to change once they gave themselves permission to admit they had to lean on those who came before them.
Not one of us got on this planet by ourselves. Each of us has an origin story. Some stories are fantastic and filled with goodness and inspiration. Others are dismal and would leave you in tears. But we all have a story. Our boldness is not determined by our foundation. Every person has the capacity to live boldly.
Hesitation is what compels boldness to remain dormant. Allowing ourselves to actively live a bold life sounds quite risky. Nothing about that concept rings safe, known and comfortable. Only one person comes to mind who lived with boldness and without hesitation, who also challenged the known and rejected the comfortable: Christ. And we are called to live like Christ. We are encouraged to emulate his choices.
He also left a litany of examples of what it looks like to give yourself permission to step out of the norm. His mother, Mary, gave a bold yes. His cousin, John, chose a bold lifestyle of living and preaching. The apostles that followed him chose to ignore risks and boldly evangelize. The Bible is filled with stories of people who finally submitted their permission to God. They exchanged their comfortable lives with bold alternatives. Their metamorphoses began with them believing they were worthy enough in the first place. This is the most powerful key of all: You have to believe you are worth the change you desire.
Time and again, we see just how imperative self-worth is in a person’s overall success. Whether someone has an academic goal or a financial desire or perhaps a physical improvement, they must first believe they are worth the investment. Worthiness equals sustainability of a goal. How would someone stick to a bold change if they didn’t think they were worth the difference? Honestly, if someone had asked me at 458 pounds if I was worthy of weight loss I would have said, “nope”. My goal wasn’t to lose the 300 pounds I have lost. My goal was to boldly avoid being sent to a clinic 2,000 miles away. But I found my worth in wanting to stay with my 18-month-old son. I knew I could find a better solution for my wants. The motivation I had was out of pure desperation.
My story doesn’t start heroically. Many stories do not. The brilliant reality of stories is they are organic in nature; they often evolve. Being empowered with boldness does not need to be the starting point in a journey toward change; it only needs to be a possibility. Once again, we face a new year with hope. Start this year by granting yourself permission to be transformed boldly by God.
Liv Harrison writes from Texas.
|Who is Liv?|
|Liv Harrison is the host of the daily morning show, “Liv Every Day,” which is live Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. (EST) on Backchannel. Liv also hosts a weekly late-night show, “It’s Not That Late with Liv Harrison.” A new episode is released at 8 p.m. (EST) every Thursday via YouTube on the Veritas Catholic Network and on all podcast platforms. Learn more about Liv and how to connect with her by visiting her website: thelivharrison.com.|