Always learning

I made this pact with myself when I was a teenager that became my life motto: no matter how old I live to be, I want to always be teachable. Actually, what I said to myself as I sat on the Big Rock at the top of our street was, “If an 18 yr old comes to me when I’m 75, presenting truth to me in a way I hadn’t known or considered before, I want to be able to embrace that truth and change my ways.”

I had no idea how hard it would be to keep that promise to myself, and how much of an influence it would play in my life. I just knew that I never wanted to grow old and stuck in my ways, and that truth is something I would always desire.

This life motto took some adapting to. Humans prefer comfort zones and traditions to life-changing truth. Once we form an opinion on a certain matter, we like to hold on to it. That summed me up, even though I had declared myself to be ‘always learning’. When I was in my 20’s, enjoying my job as a radio deejay, I became a little wound up at the changes taking place in the reggae music industry. I had grown up with classical music, Ska, and Bob. During a summer of heartbreak a few years earlier, when I needed the diversion, I was trained by DJ Enriquez, (I forget his industry name), to swim in the waters of Black music. He took me under his wing, and coming out of that time, I felt like I knew all I needed to know about music. 

So the new music that other radio deejays were playing didn’t sit well with me, and I refused to play any of it. Thank God for Brother David Obi! One evening, he and I were talking about life and music while I was on a break. I told him how I just couldn’t bring myself to play this new Reggae music. He listened to me rant, and then gave me wisdom that I still apply to my life to this day. My life motto was revived when I heard his words: “Music,” he said, “will always evolve. It will never stay stagnant. If you close yourself off against this new music, you’ll find yourself stuck in the past, in the way things used to be – and you will never grow with everything that is happening around you.”

So I made room for the new music, and realized that Bro David’s words were life-changing. I didn’t just apply them to music; as the world changed, I also applied his words to language, technology, social media – all for my own growth.

Yellowstone National Park – Photo by Debbie Mendoza

This idea that I don’t have to stay stuck in any habit, any way of thinking, any unhealthy behavior, and even anything I see as positive but that isn’t the best for me, is now integral to my life. Romans 12:2, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, makes a whole lot of sense to me because I understand how easy it is to become stuck in a certain way of thinking, and a certain way of doing things. I also know, from my own experience, that the process of allowing our minds to be renewed is not an overnight one, and that it doesn’t happen only one time in our lives. It is an ongoing process. Human beings love the familiar, and often during our life’s walk with God, we have to allow Him to search us, forgive us, and renew us.

Is there evidence of an unteachable spirit in the you? Christians are to live in humility, constantly submitting to the process of change in our lives. We are not to hold on to ideology and tradition so tightly that the Spirit of God is not allowed to bring truth to us. Sometimes the Holy Spirit contradicts our ideology, how we were brought up, what we have come to believe, our ways of doing things; but isn’t that why He is there? To teach, comfort, and guide?

Living a life where truth and knowledge are important will cause you, at different times in your life, to change direction in some matters, take off masks in some areas, and ask forgiveness in others. It is not an easy lifestyle to choose. It means not holding on to anything, or anyone, too tightly. Everything in the Christian’s life should be available to come under the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit. That’s just the way it is.

What is the Holy Spirit whispering to you right now that is hard to hear because it goes against what you have been taught, your ideology, and the way you think things should be? Are you quenching the Spirit in favor of what is comfortable for you?

These are tough questions we have to face, but this is a season of tough questions. It’s so much easier to say that there is nothing new to learn, and that you already know all there is to know about life; to stay stuck there, even though new information is all around you, yours for the taking.

Yellowstone Park – photo by Debbie Mendoza

Over the years since my Big Rock moment, I’ve become comfortable with changing my mind when facts show that I was wrong. Sometimes I have to wrestle through it, but I have a very strong desire for truth to win in my life. This process continues for me. As recently as last year, even after such a long period of growth and healing, I cried out to God, “Lord, renew my mind!” By doing so, I submitted myself once again to the discomfort of coming to grips with the fact that there was truth available to me that I was not living by.

This is one of those things that I can tell you about because I’ve tested it and tried it. It is okay to change your mind, no matter how long you’ve held on to a belief system or a way of doing things. If you are a Christian, you already have the Holy Spirit to help you in this. It is not something you have to go alone. Give Him the space and permission to renew your mind, and then allow Him to open your eyes and heart in ways they were unaware before. Renewing of the mind is how transformation takes place.

It’s never too late to start learning.

Copyright © Debbie Mendoza January 2020

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