If there were one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be?
This is a question for you in your innermost heart. Don’t tell me the answer. Don’t think about what you “ought” to say. In what way would you most like to be different?
Another way to ask that question is to ask yourself whom you most admire. What is it about them that impresses you? What quality do they have that you wish you had?
Now then: what would it take to become that person?
Remember Pastor Reinhold Niebuhr’s serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Some things we can change with effort. I can work harder. I can learn better behavior and attitudes. I can make better habits.
Other things can’t be changed; they are fixed. I can’t change my DNA. I can’t change change other people’s behavior. I can’t change things that happened in the past.
So, back to that secret thing you wish you could change about yourself: which is it: something you can change, or something you can’t?
If it’s the former, we are in the season for change. Yom Kippur offers us a whole day to think, to pray, and to plan how to become the person we’d like to be.
If it’s the latter, if you are longing to change something that cannot be changed, it’s time to ask, “Do I want to spend my life longing for something I cannot have?” Perhaps Yom Kippur could be a day to let go of that longing.
I wish all of you a fruitful day of prayer.