Why is Change So Hard?

Do you remember when you first ate the quintessential Speedy Gonzales with a taco, enchilada, rice, and beans along with the nutty aroma of cilantro wafting over the Pico de Gallo? How about those appetizing starters of chips, queso and salsa? Have you added a sliced avocado lately? What about a basket of sopapillas with honey or ice cream for dessert?  You may be thinking, what is this... a test about foreign substances? I’m referring to food items or more specifically, Tex-Mex cuisine. 

Homemade Salsa! Yum!

Many of us who live outside of the southwest these days are on a quest for meal alternatives that are spicy. We want dishes that are garnished with jalapenos, chile peppers, and sprinkled with noticeable traces of cayenne. We desire a culinary experience that puts enough fire on our tongues that it drives us to rate the experience by charting the degree of heat on the Scoville chart for bragging purposes! Yes! We are chasing the heat! 

I can remember the first time I tasted Tex-Mex. I didn’t like it! The setting was an El Fenix on Stateline Road in Texarkana during a hot August of 1976. It was on my first trip to the Lone Star State to scope out a seminary in Fort Worth. We had stopped for the night and the guys I was traveling with had a strong hankering for Mexican food. Growing up, I had never eaten anything by that descriptor! I didn’t know how to order and found the salsa to be so fiery that it was "miserable to the taste!" That was then; this is now! Forty-six years later, if I don’t get a weekly “fix” at one of our Mexican restaurants, I think I have been cheated!

My “culinary conversion” did not occur instantly. I must admit that I took to brisket barbecue a lot quicker, but the more I ate Tex-Mex, the more it grew on me. It is funny how frequenting Los Tios in Houston could transition the most resistant “Yankee” to an adopted Texan within just a few short years! In time, Monique and I were no longer ordering shrimp at El Fenix and yes, we did early on! Instead, we were competing over baskets of chips and bowls of salsa while devouring our tortillas wrapped around pork, beef and cheese, and served with rice and beans!

Dr. Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU’s School of Business, has recently written an interesting book (half-filled with charts), entitled, A Nation Adrift: America in 100 Charts. I found the research revealing. Galloway contends that even before the Pandemic, our country had been dealing with the rippling effects of economic and social drifting. I’ll leave the economic matters to those more qualified, but the social and relational impact of the last couple of years especially caught my attention.

Galloway bluntly says in his book that individuals have “turned away from community.” Church membership is down from 68% (1990) to 47% (2020) [Chart: 22. p.65]. His findings show that we are not talking to our neighbors. It’s not just that we don’t talk to strangers (which we don’t!), but we do not speak to those neighbors living next door to us! In about ten years, the number of adults who spoke to their neighbors declined from 71% (2008) to 54% (2017) [p.65]. During a recent CNN interview, Galloway declared, “The key to happiness is meaningful relationships, yet we are constantly arguing with each other! And, over the course of the past thirty years, something’s changed!” (Oct. 1, 2022, M. Smerconish, journalist).

Change doesn’t have to be so hard. Why do we make it so? What is it about the familiar that keeps us locked into our routines, biases, and opinions so much that we miss new experiences that can bring such vitality and purpose to our lives. Walking on a nature trail during these days of fall could be the beginning of something new and spiritually rewarding. And what about community? What could happen if we intentionally sought out a new friend or neighbor for casual conversation? Could these efforts lead to a coffee date or a trip out to a nearby restaurant for more sustained conversation and relationship building?

I don’t think Jesus ever suggested that being a “salt and light” Christian was going to be effortless or that a change in behavior was going to just drop into our laps (Matthew 5:13-16) without any initiative on our part. The words “seek, ask, and knock” seem to suggest that we are required to do something to see change come about. The essence of Jesus' teaching on prayer was that we "Ask and keep on asking... Seek and keep on seeking... Knock and keep on knocking" with our requests (Mt. 7:7-8, AMP). 

What are you willing to risk in your life to experience change? What are you willing to do to affect change in this world? Wouldn't it be a radical reversal someday to read about an esteemed author of the day stating something positive like, "things are changing for the better?" Let's keep doing our part to love, work, pray, give, and serve until Jesus comes again! Our God is still changing lives!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com

 If you like heat, check this out: Chasing Culinary Heat





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