[Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Kirstin Leigh’s breakout book, Change Your Story. I am so grateful to Kirstin today for sharing her inspiring story today on Devotional Diva — both in text AND video form! Be sure to watch her video for Devotional Diva below, too!]
Choosing to Change
Don’t wait until the pain outweighs the pleasure.
You can lose five pounds before your high school reunion, your wedding, or your date on Friday night. You can stop drinking for ten days, just to prove you can. You can live on a budget—for a week. As long as we know there is an ending date, most of us can willpower our way through anything. Events, people, pride—anything can be the catalyst for change. But what happens when the event is over and the people you want to impress aren’t around? What happens when you are by yourself?
Tim Storey, world renowned Pastor and Life Advisor, says that for change to last, “you have to get sick and tired of being sick and tired.” That played in my heart and head for many years before I finally took the steps to truly turn my life around.
Why do we wait? What are we afraid of?
What makes change so intimidating?
If “because it takes forever” is the first thing that comes to mind, you are not alone. We have a microwave mentality. We like quick fixes. And if we are going to put the time in, we want to get it right the first time! None of these qualities gel well with change.
Change is hard because we hold on to the things we ask God to take away. We get comfortable in our problem. We complain that things need to change, yet keep putting up with the way things are. When it comes to relationships, sometimes we get so get so used to complaining, we don’t see things have changed. For instance, one of the girls in my Bible study asked us to pray for a situation between her and one of her co-workers. It was so bad that even though she loved her job, she was ready to leave. One day, she stood up and gave a praise report. Then she immediately apologized for not giving it sooner. Things had been better for a long time, but she hadn’t realized it because she was holding on to the hurt, the memory of how it used to be. It took something drastic for her to see that the problem was now her.
Our brokenness, our back-stories, our need for control hinders our perception. Change requires that we get new glasses. We have to see clearly to know what really needs changing.
On a deeper level, change is terrifying because it requires trust.
At any point in my life, if you would have asked if I trusted God I would have said “Yes!” and I would have meant it. However, the decisions I made and the ones I didn’t make told another story. When I dug deep enough, the reason I didn’t want to stop drinking. . . I was scared. As much as I wanted to—as much as I said and thought I did, I didn’t truly believe God still had a plan for me.
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18 NLT). When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild(KLV). Where there is no vision, my people perish (NIV).
It doesn’t matter which translation of the Bible you read, the bottom line is the same. You have to be able to see past yourself and your circumstance, to see God’s plan for your life.
Of course, circumstances matter. But it is the regrets, guilt, shame, and the “what if’s” that hold us hostage. It is the words, hurts, anger, fear, wrong ideas, and false truths that have been planted inside us that have taken root and taken over, that keep us from moving forward.
We have to trust that we can change our story. That our tears haven’t been in vain. That all is not lost. That God can and will use everything for our good. We have to believe that when God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (see Jeremiah 29:11), that He is talking about us. I didn’t believe that. I said I did. I thought I did! But the reality is I relied on Miller Lite.
The devil works hard to manipulate our minds. Refusing to deal with our backstory, or covering it up and denying we have one, makes us vulnerable. We have to let go of the lies we’ve believed, and the ones we’ve lived in. We have to say goodbye to our fake security blankets. The only thing they protect us from is the truth—God loves us unconditionally. He hates to see us hurting and will never give up on us.
Close your eyes and picture yourself free from everything on your list. No more hiding, looking over your shoulder, pretending to be okay. You are confident, mature, worthy of respect. People look up to you because you set an example. They learn from you. You help them break free from the chains that kept you in bondage. Visioning this helps you endure the sleepless nights, the tears, the shakes, the loneliness, the anxiety, and all the other countless feelings that come with change.
Feelings Have a Mission
Change Requires Vision
Feelings demand our attention and make us focus on what feels good. They whisper what we want to hear.
“It doesn’t matter. . . He’ll get a job eventually.”
“Go ahead! Everyone does it.”
“One more drink won’t hurt.”
“Have another piece of cake.”
“So what? You deserve to be happy.”
Feelings tune out the warning signs, and tell us that “everything will be fine.” They talk us into believing we don’t care. That this time will be different. That we won’t be sorry. Feelings tell us we can handle the consequences—and they lie.
Remove Feelings from the Driver’s Seat of Your Life
Pretending to be happy all the time and ignoring your feelings is not what I’m talking about. Your feelings deserve to be heard and need to be understood—but sometimes you have to tell them to shut-up.
“Do the action and the feeling will follow.” This advice came from my acting teacher in regards to a scene I was having trouble with. The scene called for me to cry, and I hadn’t cried in years. (Why I couldn’t cry was something my backstory would later revel.) I was so hung up on the emotions the scene called for that I was ruining what was a perfect part for me. “Forget about the emotion and focus on what your character is doing,” yelled my teacher. Little did I know this would be one of the key ingredients to “changing my story.”
Feelings are rarely in alignment with change. And I can promise you that anyone who has conquered giants, defeated the odds, risen above the status quo, and is living at their highest potential, did not get there by allowing their feelings to call the shots.
Not allowing feelings to be the driving force in my decisions was the biggest (and hardest), change I made. Yet without making this change—nothing else would have changed.
Stay committed to changing. Do what you said you were going to do, regardless of how you feel. Regardless of whether anyone is watching. Over and over again.
Change is not a “one stop shop.” It is a process of daily decisions. A determination to get things right, no matter how much time it takes. It takes discipline, commitment, courage, and tenacity—it takes changing the way you think.
Are you ready to change your story?
A dynamic writer, speaker, and singer, Kirstin Leigh writes for national publications and churches such as The Daily Positive and One LA. Her breakout book, Change Your Story, is the story she never planned to tell. It is for every soul that is searching, every heart that has been broken, every dreamer who lost the fight… and every survivor who is ready to soar. CHANGE YOUR STORY! Now on sale at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1542952867