How do you change when you are feeling stuck?
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. Romans 7:15,18-19 NLT
Have you ever felt stuck? You see something about yourself that you want to change, but you keep doing it over and over again. When I’m in this spot, I get super frustrated and discouraged. I don’t want to keep living how I’m living, but I just can’t seem to change. Like the scripture is saying, I don’t understand why I do what I do.
God can help us get unstuck, but we have to start with understanding ourselves and why we got stuck in the first place.
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Deal with the heart
So, brothers and sisters, be careful that none of you has the evil thoughts that cause so much doubt that you stop following the living God.  But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today.” Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. Hebrews 3:12-13 ERV
This is a scripture that helps me a lot, because I often feel like things are too hard to change. But this scripture says that if we feel like it’s too hard to change, it is because we have been fooled by sin. We get filled with doubt, stop following God, and end up believing the lie that it is impossible to change.
Clear it out
“Great sorrow awaits you religious scholars and Pharisees—frauds and imposters! You are like one who will only wipe clean the outside of a cup or bowl, leaving the inside filthy. You are foolish to ignore the greed and self-indulgence that live like germs within you.  You are blind and deaf to your evil. Shouldn’t the one who cleans the outside also be concerned with cleaning the inside? You need to have more than clean dishes; you need clean hearts! Matthew 23:25-26 TPT
When we just focus on changing our behaviors, we will never get to the root of why we behave that way in the first place. If we truly want to change, we need to clear out the inside of our hearts. What is pushing God, faith, and encouragement from spiritual friends out from our hearts?
The Bible talks about how when we stop dealing with our inside and just focus on the outside, greed and self-indulgence creep in and “live like germs” within us. This could be greed for money, attention, status, or pleasure. Or we can be self-indulgent in our desire to stay comfortable, feel good, or have an elevated view of ourselves. We need to be honest about and clear out these sins in our heart that fester and keep us stuck.
- What sins and guilt do you need to clear out of your heart? How do you think these things are stopping you from believing you can change?
Take it to God
Why am I so overwrought? Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me and is my life. Psalm 42:5 Voice
When I start looking at what’s in my heart, especially if I haven’t done it in awhile, I tend to become overwhelmed with the emotions that surface. The psalmist says he feels “disturbed,” which is how I often feel.
But then he offers a simple solution to his overwhelming emotions: “Despite all my emotions, I will believe.” I can feel like I need to stifle or shut down my emotions, but that’s not what the psalmist does. He acknowledges that he has all of his emotions, but chooses to believe God despite them. We can believe God will help us change even in the midst of discouragement, because faith isn’t an emotion – it is a choice.
- How do you tend to handle overwhelming emotions?
- What can you choose to believe about God today?
Can’t slow me down
Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.  We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne!  So keep your mind on Jesus, who put up with many insults from sinners. Then you won’t get discouraged and give up. Hebrews 12:1-3 CEV
Like the scripture says, sin slows us down, and if we don’t deal with it we won’t be able to run the race God has planned for us. It is not enough to simply identify the sins in our lives, though this is important. We have to let them go; otherwise they will continue to slow us down.
Imagine running a race, and you are falling behind. You realize this is because you are wearing very heavy ankle weights. It’s not enough to just acknowledge that the weights are there. You have to actually take them off.
Like ankle weights in a race, sin and guilt that we hold onto and refuse to let go of make change exponentially harder than it needs to be. Jesus is a good example we can follow of how to move forward. Because he was so focused on achieving his purpose, he wouldn’t let anything get in the way.
- What guilt/sin is slowing you down? How would it look like to let go of it?
- What purpose is God trying to help you grow to achieve?
Change comes from God
Lord, so many times I fail; I fall into disgrace. But when I trust in you, I have a strong and glorious presence protecting and anointing me. Forever you’re all I need! Psalm 73:26 TPT
As we try to take on real and lasting change, failure is not only possible but often it is part of the process of learning. We are going to mess up; we are going to fall back. The good thing is perfection isn’t God’s goal (Psalm 51:16-17 MSG). He wants us to keep trusting and going back to him when we do fail.
- What is your view of failure? Do you see it as an excuse to quit or as an opportunity to be humble and turn back to God?
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV
To make real and lasting change in our lives, we need the right tools and weapons. The way we knock down strongholds in our hearts is by using godly weapons rather than our own.
The Bible is one of God’s mighty weapons (Hebrews 4:13, Ephesians 6:17). Scriptures can change our hearts and thoughts in ways we never could on our own. Taking “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” requires us to decide the Bible is true rather than our own thoughts and emotions. When we choose to believe and follow the Bible over our own emotions and doubts, we are able to get unstuck and become who God is calling us to be.
- What scriptures can you hold onto today to help you change?
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