Change is difficult. Tonight we watched Scrooge, the musical version which was released in 1970. I remember seeing the film as a child of 10 or 11, when we lived in England. I remember the eeriness of walking home from the cinema in the cold and fog and darkness when it was over. It was a bit scary for our kids. Isak went to bed, and Samuel watched in distress as the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future came to haunt the old miser.
He was a miserable old soul, that Scrooge. Yet in one night of horrible self-realisation he changed, presumably forever. Went from being a mean, self-centred monster to being a happy, generous benefactor.
I wish it was that easy. I realised the other day that for me change takes more than self-realisation. It takes effort, will power and practice. The bad habits we fall into, the bad habits I have fallen into, are exactly that – habits. Habits do not just disappear. There needs to be the will to change and then there has to be the daily decision to do things differently. It all requires practice. And a generous serving of the grace of God.
No matter whether it is bad eating habits, irritating behavioural traits (grumpiness or chronic negativity), lack of exercise, or learning a new language, change does not just happen. It is hard work.
It would be worth a night of Scrooge horror if that could guarantee the kind of change that he seemed to experience. I guess there was a good and caring person somewhere deep down in that ugly shell. Hope for me still…?