I've noticed something interesting about people, myself included. We don't seem to make strides towards things that we know will help us, unless there is the potential for, or has been loss. It may be wired in us, or it may be a product of our upbringing. Why is it that it takes great loss before we can experience great gain?
I've noticed working with troubled kids that the parents come in to a counselor to change a certain behavior that is inconvenient for them. Little Johnny is throwing fits or not obeying, little Suzy is having separation anxiety because of fear of abandonment. What ever the case may be, it is a behavior that was cute when they were little but it becomes obnoxious and a loss to the family as they get older. At that point the parents are so sick of losing their time, sleep, resources, and sanity that there is nothing they wouldn't do to fix the problem. The child on the other hand sees their behavior as gain because every time they throw a fit and parents give in, he/she has won the battle of the wills. "Boundaries with Kids" by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is a great book for parents in this situation. It isn't until certain consequences are in place for a child acting out of line, that he/she will begin to evaluate his/her losses. Once the kid knows that there will be a loss of something they enjoy when they chose a undesirable behavior, most kids will curb that behavior and the parents gain. This again is age specific and for parents with kids with Oppositional Defiance Disorder may be something very difficult to achieve.
Now take another scenario. A man comes in trying to save his marriage because his wife is sick of his attitude, anger, affair; whatever the case may be. He has realized that the loss of his marriage is too big and he must do something to gain his wife back. At that point the man will do anything, even things he never considered, in order to save his marriage. There are things that this man can do, but it will take all the work he wasn't willing to put in prior to that point to save the marriage. The same goes for a woman in the same situation. His/her loss is the thing that motivates the will and can in turn create great gain in the relationship.
The will is an interesting thing. I spend a lot of time talking about taking thoughts captive, recognizing emotions, but not a lot of time in counseling is focused on the will. Now I guess the assumption is that the will follows in line when we have thoughts and emotions in check, but I'm finding that there is power in realizing I have a choice and I must take my will captive as well. "My thoughts, emotions and will don't chose, I do." I tell my Doer personality types, "they are most pliable when they are broken", which means they don't submit their will to Christ until life has turned upside down. There is great freedom in realizing that I can use my will to chose gain before the loss comes. There is also great freedom that in the middle of loss that I can use my will to chose to take a different course of action. There is even greater freedom when I submit my will, as I would my thoughts and emotions, to Christ at the beginning of every day. "Lord, I choose to abide today."
This idea of the will is something to wrestle with. Until I have health issues, extra weight or problems with body image, then I consider and maybe exercise my will to exercise. The loss of weight may even become the motivator to keep me exercising. Until the potential loss of an important relationship is at stake, then I exercise my will to change my interactions with that person. Until there is a threat of hell (popular evangelism technique) then I won't evaluate the need for something different like Heaven. Until I see that my sin is a great loss to me, then and only then will I see my need for a Savior. Until my idols (anything I run to other than Christ under stress and pressure) have caused a great loss in my life then and only then do I use my will to turn to Christ. There can be great gain even in my loss as I submit my will to God and chose to rest in Him moment by moment.
To be continued....