No One Can Change Me, Except Me

by Tracey Bateman

The one thing I’ve learned from my oh-so-vast 42 years, is that growth means pain, but pain doesn’t necessarily mean growth. We have two choices when faced with challenge and struggle, either fall apart, or buck up and make a change.

I LOVE Michael Jackson’s song Man in the Mirror.

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways…

No one can change me, except me.

Lets face it, we are not living up to our own expectations let alone anyone else’s. Some of us are fat, some are poor, some just have a really bad attitude, some have debt up the wazoo, insurmountable obstacles to reaching our potential. But the fact is, we are in charge of our destiny. We hear this almost like a mantra everywhere we look. But as cheesy as it sounds, it’s actually true!

I made some MAJOR changes at the end of last year—around October. After a month of separation from my husband, who clearly caused all of our marital problems, and my personal ones, I did what Michael suggested: Took a long look in the mirror. Marriage in shambles, kids unhappy, career on the fritz, 100 lbs overweight, spiritual life pretty dead. As I realized all those things were fixable, I also knew it wouldn’t be easy, and the only control I have is the ability to control my own life. Still, I knew the task ahead wouldn’t be easy. The fact that I had tried and failed on most points over and over didn’t leave me with much hope that I’d actually finish the course with any amount of real success.

But here’s the thing about pain…it was already there. My choice was whether to embrace the pain and grow. Or let it beat me down and destroy my life. Pretty dramatic conclusion. For once, I decided not to try to change everything at once, but to start with the most important and work from there.

1.) Found a Christian counselor who was willing to accept whatever payment I could afford. I’d always been too stubborn and proud to do this. To admit to anyone that I might be my own problem. Best decision I could have made!

2.) Re-committed to my marriage. I have a good man with a lot of annoying habits and behaviors. A good excuse to walk away, but not necessarily a good reason. He doesn’t abuse me, cheat on me or have destructive habits that wreak havoc on our home. He just basically bugged me. When I realized that, I also realized Love is a choice. Our marriage is stronger than it has been in years. We’re fixing what was broken. But it’s tough sometimes to put in the effort to keep it working, not give in to my tendency to walk away from the hard stuff. Feb. 11, marks twenty-three years of marriage for us. It’s worth the effort. This is my biggest accomplishment ever.

3.) I backed off on doing everything for the kids. They’re mostly grown and need to learn to handle some situations on their own. You might wonder how this makes them happier. Well, mostly it makes me happier, but in the LONG run, they’ll thank me for it.

4.) I let my agent go and began focusing on a new brand with a new agent. I’m not struggling inside anymore about my career. I’m pressing toward a goal to write what I love the way I want to write it and partnering with an incredible agent who believes in me and loves my writing, but challenges me to excellence.

5.) Finances are more of a challenge because my husband has been without work for a year. But we are making it. Keeping our choices smart about what we buy and what we can live without has been empowering.

Do I have it all figured out? Not really, but after a few months of steady consistency (my major struggle), I see improvement. Flexing those muscles and letting pain make me grow instead of buckling under pressure. The changes are slow and steady, but they are happening. Instead of my all-or-nothing mentality forcing me to start strong and quit short of the goal, I’m making real progress. Slower than I want, but true change takes time. I’m finally getting that.

Oh, and by the way, I’ve lost almost thirty pounds.

So here’s my point. If you started January with resolve to make changes and have found yourself in February, slowly (or in some cases noon January 1st) giving up your hope of making changes this year, take a good long look in the mirror and realize change is worth it. And it starts with you.

Good luck and let me know how you’re doing!

Tracey Bateman is the author of The Widow of Saunders Creek. She lives in the Missouri Ozarks with her husband and family where she loves hanging out with her kids and being involved in her church. The rest of the time, Tracey is busy telling tales, creating characters, and dreaming of other worlds.

Learn more about Tracey:

Tina Ann Forkner

Tina Ann Forkner is the author of two novels, Ruby Among Us and Rose House, and has written on a freelance-basis for Homecoming Magazine. Tina lives in Wyoming with her family.

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  1. Just when I thought I couldn’t love or admire Tracey Bateman any more than I already do…she writes this and I am even more proud to know her!

    Tracey, you have always inspired me, and I am so very thankful for these words this morning! Love you!

  2. The fact that you’re being so transparent and REAL makes this possibly the most powerful blog post I’ve read in a VERY long time. I just adopted a new tag line a few days ago based on a word-for-the-year that God gave me New Year’s Eve. By the way you would have to know me well to know that I do NOT usually just get a word from God on New Year’s Eve like that. I now many do, but I never have. Anyway. the word was decision. A few days ago, He amended that word to make it a phrase: Writing is a decision…

    For me that was HUGE because due to a whole bunch of stuff I haven’t felt that I had a whole lot of decision-making power in my writing career for quite awhile. Now I realize that none of us has control of a whole lot. Instead, we grasp what we can and hold it loosely while asking God what kind of good decision can I make on this.

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your heart and a slice of your soul. I’m keeping this post where I can read it again when I need to. Change is a decision and it begins with me and what I can control.

    With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes. ~Psalm 108:13, NLT

  3. Oh, what an encouragement! So refreshing to hear an honest, buck-stops-here post. Will you share how you’re accomplishing the weight loss? That’s my current area of struggle. Would love some pointers!

    1. Wendy,
      The weight loss is coming slowly from cutting back and adding exercise–slowly. Recently I’ve been doing low carb with my husband as it works best for us–we like our meat! But really, when it comes right down to it, we all know how to lose weight. Eat less, cut back on sugar and breads and let the body take care of itself. This is a hard lesson for me because I like to fad diet, lose a fast 20 lbs and see quick results. Unfortunately, that’s not the way to lasting results.

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