I write.

Summer are you listening?

I don’t write poems much, but here’s a poem that I wrote for my beautiful daughter, Summer. I truly find it incredible how much I love her.

Summer are you listening?

Summer are you listening?
A heart is not big enough to hold
A father’s love for his little one

Trouble will visit
And you will taste the salty taste of heartache
You may cry. It’s allowed. Let it out
Daddy’s arms are always waiting to squeeze you tight

Joy will come to stay
And you will laugh that consuming laugh
You will smile. It’s encouraged. Let it in
Daddy’s hands are always waiting to throw you high

Summer are you listening?
A heart is not big enough to hold
A father’s love for his little one
So I’ll be holding it with my life
Daddy’s love is always yours

The wee hours of the morning. An epic journey.

I have a new thing to add to my list of favourites. The short version is needing to wee really early in the morning in winter. But it’s most certainly necessary to elaborate.

Now, admittedly, this particular set of circumstances doesn’t happen very often, but when it all does come together it’s a veritable perfect storm of urinary inflicted torment.

Imagine, it’s ridiculous o’clock in the morning. Still darker than the heart of man. You wake up and before you even have a chance to realise where you are it hits you. Your bladder is knocking on the door of your brain with hands made of pure pain and discomfort. Now all you can think about is how badly you need to empty your system of urine. At this point you are still unaware that outside of your duvet or your team of blankets, it’s colder than a cheating ex. You open your eyes only to be greeted by nothingness. It’s so dark your pupils would need to be at least three times bigger than they can ever be just to see vague shapes. If you are a female human I assume this is a difficult time for you, but as a man I can’t know for sure. If you are a male human, times are hard and very uncomfortable right now.

You are now just taking the first steps of a decision-making journey like no other. The proportions of which, no human has known before. You will experience more more doubt, fear and skepticism than Frodo on his epic journey through Middle Earth. Your bed is your Shire. It’s where you want to be more than anything, but you are still reaching that epiphany.

Still half way between awake and blissfully asleep, it dawns on you that your only option is to get out of your Shire bed and go to the toilet. Your mind starts to wrestle. Not the WWE kind where it’s staged. Greco-Roman baby. That uneasy, sweaty kind where two men get far too close in clothing that is far too small and tight. Surely there are other options? You could stay in bed and go back to sleep right? Right!

So that’s what you do. You fall into heavenly sleep. Unburdened rest. After what feels like 3 seconds of sleep you awake again. The pain you previously felt is swimming in the Mariana Trench of your your new pain. You are forced into a decision to make the horrific journey. That is until you move your duvet. A one millimeter gap opens near your shoulder and the coldest air in recorded history rushes into to your hot air cocoon faster than a Jamaican shoplifter on crystal-meth running from the law. You instantaneously pull that duvet back onto your body and try to forget. Your foot might cope better, you think, so you try to start with that. As your foot breaks the barrier between unearthly warmth and freeze-a-polar-bear-to-death cold you feel your toes immediately blackening from the onset of frostbite.

Your bladder is now the size of a watermelon and throbbing like a Fifty Shades of Gray reference. You must push through. You must endure. Reluctantly you slide out of your nest of warmth. You can still only see what God saw in Genesis 1:2. Nothing.

Checkpoint reached.

You shuffle your feet around hoping they will somehow glide effortlessly into your slippers. You are stupid for trying. That kind of luck is unheard of in the blackness of the urinary journey to cold hell.

If you share your bed with another, you now sprout a seedling of concern in your heart for him or her. You accept the next challenge of your journey. To do it in monk-like silence. Not those annoying, loud Gregorian chanting ones. The enlightened, vow-of-silence ones.

No slippers on your feet, obviously, you move at a sloth-like pace towards your relief. You will kick your toes on at least one thing before you reach the door of the room that houses the porcelain Mount Doom. You must enter so you can release the urine of destiny into the abyss. It goes without saying that your bathroom door squeaks like a horror movie swing so you open it slower than a slug on a salt pan. It still squeaks. Obviously.

First step in and your naked foot touches the floor. Tiles! Tiles made of Eskimo bricks! It’s still darker than a black hole at night so you have to awkwardly crouch as you move towards the toilet, slowly waving your hand out in front of you to feel for it. It feels like an age to get there, but you eventually get a hand on it. If you are a guy, this is right when you realise that, for visibility and logistical reasons, you are going to have to wee girl-style. Sitting down. Just to break your manhood down a little more.

Both male and female are equal again. Pants down you slowly, apprehensively take a seat. It’s the Ice Queen’s very throne beneath you! How can a solid object be made of liquid nitrogen and still take your weight? Neither science nor religion have any answers.

Relief.

Suddenly, in an instant, your entire body is relaxed. I mean like day-spa-relaxed. Asleep-on-the-beach-relaxed. Amsterdam-coffee-shop-relaxed. The world makes sense again and your journey back to your bed, though slightly awkward, is nowhere near as arduous as the one you just conquered like a champion. You settle in to glorious, warm rest and drift off to sleep.

Later, when you wake up at a reasonable time the punishing events that took place mere hours ago are a distant, extremely vague memory. It’s a trap. Tonight, or the next night, or the one after that when you are holding a glass of water, about to drink it before you get into bed, you will not remember your recent ordeal. You will down it like a refreshing thirst quencher. Not seeing it for the witches brew that it is.

You’ve stepped right into the early morning wee trap all over again. Enjoy it fool.

I’m out.

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2 Months In

It’s been just over 2 months since my beautiful wife and I made the move to Johannesburg. We moved up here because I was offered a job as web designer and video production guy in the church that Lindsay grew up in.

The decision was not a small one for me because my heart burns for the coast. I was born at the coast and lived there until I was 28 and I just love the sea and the coastal culture and lifestyle so moving inland to a massive city like Joburg was a tough thing for me to imagine. Lindsay and I prayed a lot about the decision to move and we both knew it was the decision Jesus was leading us to make. Even knowing that I still wrestled. ‘Would God really want me to live somewhere I don’t want to live? Doesn’t He want what’s best for me?’. These, and many other questions like them filled my thoughts for weeks.

At that time we were staying at my Mom’s house and we were effectively on holiday, which was great, but it wasn’t a time free from concern about the future. I read a lot of books, prayed more than usual and got into God’s Word a bunch. I realized a lot of things in that time. Here are a few of those things:

  • God really is in control! (Col 1:17)
  • We can’t expect to be free from suffering or difficult times because we are children of God. Jesus is proof of that. He suffered more than we can really know and we should not think we are better than Jesus that we should be exempt from difficulties. (Jas 1:2-4)
  • God disciplines the child that He loves. Now the emphasis here is not on discipline, but rather on love! (Prov 3:11 & 12)
  • God is good and He does want the best for me. Since He knows everything there is to know it’s more than feesable that my idea of what’s best for me really isn’t what’s best for me and falls short of His ultimate wisdom. (Matt 7:9-11; Isa 55:8-10)
  • God is more interested in my character and my growth.
  • God sees my future and He leads me the way that He knows will be best for me. (Jer 29:11; Eph 3: 14-21)
  • He uses anything and everything for my good. (Rom 8:28)
  • I love Him and His Kingdom!! I love Him more than surfing or living at the coast, more than I thought I did. And I trust Him more than I think, or feel like, I do. These were both good realizations to come to for me.

Don’t get me wrong, moving here has still been tough and there are days when I miss the sea so much that it hurts and seeing photos of waves births a powerful longing in me, but I know why we are here and who it is that has us here.

It has been tough for us in Joburg for a number of reasons, but it has been really good in a lot of ways too. It’s been good for me to meet new people and to be more heavily involved in a good church for the first time in a long while.

It has been seriously awesome seeing my wife thrive in what she loves. One of the reasons I decided to move to Joburg is that Lindsay is a Sign Language interpreter. Yes, she can speak deaf. There isn’t much deaf-people-stuff for her to get involved in at the coast and she loves it and is really good at it so I knew that moving up here would be good for her. She has been doing so well! She interprets at church and I often find myself staring at her while she does and it makes me feel stoked to see her doing what she loves to do. She also got a job teaching at a school for deaf children and the story of how she got the job is really cool, but for another time.

God has really looked after us here (as He always does) and we wait to see what the future holds for the Rielly’s, but what I do know is that God is good, He is the ultimate Father and He wants what’s best for us!

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Psalm 146

It’s been a while since I last posted. This is due to a number of things. For one, I sometimes just don’t have anything to write, but other than that my wife and I recently moved to a new city and it’s been pretty crazy trying to settle in. God has been so ridiculously good to us though! There have been days when we thought there were just no solutions to problems we were facing, but Jesus has hooked us up so amazingly.

We were given a car and have also found a really nice little place to stay that we will move into at the start of next month. It will be really good to be in a little place of our own after having pretty much been gypsies for the last 9 months and living with friends and family (and almost complete strangers) all over the world.

So why has God been looking after us? It’s nothing we’ve done to deserve it – I can attest to that! It’s because He’s good and He’s a father. And because He promised. Check out Psalm 146 from verse 5 until the end and give a little extra attention to verse 9:

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free;8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.9 The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!

He promised He’d look after me and that’s what He does! Pretty simple really. God can’t make a promise and not keep it! He is truth. There’s not much more that I can say about it. God is good and His goodness causes us to change.

On another note – I got an email from a reader today that was super encouraging! It feels really good to know that there are people reading and being affected by the blog.

Please feel free to get in touch – I’d love to hear from you!

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Is ‘fatherlessness’ really a problem?

I speak to a lot of people about the fact that their parent’s got divorced or that their dad bailed on them and a lot of those people say that they aren’t affected by it and never have been. I can’t say that they are all lying, but in my experience most of them are guilty of creating the fact that they are okay with it all. I find myself wanting to ask, ‘Are you trying to convince me or convince yourself?’ when they’re explaining.

Most people don’t want to seem weak or be vulnerable so they pretend that it’s all good. Or they don’t want to feel the emotions that go along with the experience so they tuck them away and convince themselves that the feelings never even existed to begin with. I did that for a long time. Now I don’t have any form of psychology degree or training so I’m not claiming to be and expert on this stuff, but I do have experience in the area and I can be pretty perceptive even if that is in my own opinion 🙂

The only reason I came to the place where I dealt with my emotions and insecurities Read more

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My Biggest Regret

Right now I don’t have very many regrets, and the majority that I can think of are pretty negligible and have been forgotten long ago – thereby implying they aren’t regrets at all anymore. The way I see it there are varying levels of regret and these levels can be judged by the longevity of the regret in question – it’s lifespan. By that I mean how long I continue to regret a certain action or decision determines how big a regret it is. Like the time I decided not to wear underpants to youth group when I was 17 and someone pulled my pants down in front of all the girls – I regretted that decision for a good year or two at least. So I’d put that at about a 3 or 4 out of 10. Oh, what about the time I decided not to join my friends on a surf trip to the West Coast for the school holidays because I had just started dating Emily Graham – she broke up with me at the end of the first week of the three week holidays and my friends scored mental waves – that regret lasted years. 5 out of 10 (surfing always came before girls after that – until I met my wife of course).

So I’m guessing you’re wondering if there is anything I currently regret and have continued to for a long time. There is one thing and it’s something I think I will probably always regret.

To fill you in we’ll need to go back in time to when I was in high school. I was really good friends with a guy who’s name I’m going to ommit – I’m not sure why exactly, but I just think I should.
This friend and I surfed together just about every weekend and slept over at one another’s houses all the time. OK, let’s call him Simon for the sake of having a name to use.

Simon had two older brothers who also both surfed. I looked up to them both and always loved hanging out at their house – some of my best memories are from times at their house, hanging in their neighbourhood and at the beach near where they stayed. They were a great family – still are I’m sure!

Simon and I were pretty tight and we’d talk about girls and what we wanted to do when we were older. We’d talk about all the surf spots around the world that we wanted to surf and places we wanted to go. I still remember a big map of Indonesia that he had stuck up on the wall next to his bed and he once told me about how he was thinking about doing missionary work there (and getting crazy good waves while he was at it – obviously!). (Ironically I am writing this whilst lying on a bed, under a less than fully-functional mosquito net, on the island of Nias in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.)

OK, lets get to the crux. I don’t remember the exact year that it happened (I think it was my first year out of High School and Simon’s last year of the same – I have no way to check right now unfortunately), but one morning Simon’s brothers went for a surf at their local spot and one of them was attacked by a shark. I won’t go into any details, but he passed away as a result.

Simon needed me (and all his other friends) to be there for him to talk to if he wanted to or to be quiet with if he needed to or even to just do random stuff with if that’s what he needed. I seriously had no idea what to say to him. I couldn’t even imagine his pain and I knew that nothing I could say would help, so I did the worst thing of all. I said nothing. I didn’t call and I didn’t go to see him. I’m still shocked at my insanely poor decision! I get a kind of heavy feeling on me when I think about it – every time.

Why didn’t I call? I know all the reasons why, but when I think of them they become more like excuses than reasons. I was stupid enough to think about myself and how I would feel rather than forgetting about me and being the friend that I should have been. I let my insecurities be bigger than my loyalty. I know where those insecurities came from and I could go on and list them as reasons for my actions, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my biggest regret it’s that I’m responsible for my actions and my decisions and for who I am. No amount of shifting blame to my daddy issues could make up for the fact that I made an extremely poor decision and that I was a bad friend. I’ve realised that it’s me who is responsible for who I am and not my father. I can be the product of the hand I feel I’ve been dealt or I can be the man, husband, father, friend and son I want to be by taking responsibility for my character.

I was Simon’s ‘Christian’ friend and I let him down hugely! I showed him an extremely distorted and false picture of who God is by bailing on him when it counted. Our friendship died back then. I have seen him since then and apologised for my poor form, but it was too little too late. Don’t get me wrong, he was very gracious about it and he’s a truly great guy, but apart from the ocassional message here and there on Facebook we don’t have much contact.
There’s not much substance to our friendship and it doesn’t take much to see why. Would you have a real friendship with someone who bailed on you at a time like that? I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.

I’m reminded of Simon’s bedside map almost daily while we are here in Indonesia and I can’t help thinking about whether he would be here doing the things he spoke about all those years ago if I had just had the balls to be a good enough friend to be there for him when he needed me.

Don’t make decision based on what your past or your experience says about you. Be the best version of you by choosing to do the things that the best version of you would do. I don’t get it right all the time, but if I keep trying (and I will) then I’ll eventually be the best me.

Thanks for reading! You’re awesome!!

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Thoughts about the blog

I was thinking about this blog yesterday and just running through a bunch of stuff in my mind. Things like ‘Why am I doing it?’ and ‘What if my dad reads it, or my brothers?’.

With regards to the first question, let me fill you in. I am under no illusions as to how many people currently read these little posts that I write and I figure I probably have somewhere between six and ten regular readers. That really isn’t many considering that one of the main reasons I started the blog was to hopefully help people to face up to the issues they have with their dad’s and to encourage forgiveness and even possibly reconciliation. Am I okay with number of readers? I definitely am. Would I like more readers? Yes, but only if what I write would be of value to them.

I sometimes think about how I can get more readers, and being guy who has worked in web design and development for the last six, or so, years I have know of a bunch of ways that will work. So why haven’t I been doing any of those things? Well, I could have emailed everyone who I have an email address for (and I have a lot!) and asked them to pass it on. I could have posted links on a bunch of forums and done a whole bunch of other things, but when I first started the blog I decided I didn’t want to push it in those ways. I decided I would rather let God grow the blog if it was a valuable resource and encouragement to people and something that He could use. I also figure that if the few people who do read the blog, or find it through the search engines, like what I’m putting out then they will keep coming back or subscribe to the RSS feed and they will tell people they know about it if they think those people need to read what I’m writing.

Another reason for the blog is that it’s good for me. It’s a way for me to consistently evaluate my state of mind, my feelings about my childhood, my attitude towards my dad, my relationship with God and my progress through life as an adult. It’s an outlet for what’s in my heart and mind, so even if nobody reads it, it’s still worth my while.

One thing I do know is that I should be posting more often. The truth is that sometimes I just don’t know what to write. My wife and I are also traveling for the next 3 months so that is going to make posting a little tougher.

I’ve been thinking about starting to write little stories about my childhood as a type of series, but I’m not too sure yet about what is okay to put online and what isn’t. Maybe I’ll just start out with some funny stories about what my friends and used to get up to?

Another thing that might help is if people asked me questions or something like that, so maybe I will add a page for questions – let me know what you think? Guest posts are another thing I have been thinking about so if you have something you’d like to write about on the blog then let me know and we’ll see if it fits. Do you think guest posts are a good idea? I have some friends and family that I have been considering asking to write some guest posts so I might do that soon.

‘What if my dad reads it, or my brothers?’

This is something I’ve thought about on and off since I started the blog, but I really thought about it quite a lot yesterday. I’d be okay with my dad reading what I write. Why is that? Well, I’ve spoken to my dad about my childhood and about how him not being around has affected my life and I’ve told him that I love him and that I’ve forgiven him. He knows that I don’t have any hard feelings towards him, but that doesn’t change the things that have happened to me as a result of his decisions. I have dealt with the majority of my feelings about it all, but there are people who in the situations (or worse ones) that I have already lived through and there are others who have lived them already too, but haven’t confronted the past,or the feelings or their dads and it is for them that I write this stuff. So if my dad does read my blog [which is unlikely since I doubt he even uses email :)] then I hope he understands the reason behind it and doesn’t see it as an attack on him – because it definitely isn’t that!

I have two brother’s (they’re technically half-brother’s since we share only the same dad) who are more likely to find their way to the blog than my dad (probably through Facebook) and I wondered what they would think if they read my blog. I really don’t know, because they have experienced my dad in a very different way than I have. He has been around for them. They grew up in the same house with him and he has taken them fishing and watched them play rugby. So they wouldn’t identify with my feelings or experience at all and might find it confusing, but they are good guys who I get along with very well and I like to believe that they would see the blog for what it is.

I know I could be stepping on toes with this blog, but I passionately believe that in a world where the divorce rate and fatherless homes rates are higher than ever before, we need to unite and deal with the situation. I am sold-out in my belief that where there are no father’s God is the ultimate Father and that His love can fill the void left by any absent earthly father.

Thanks so much for reading and please feel free to let me know your thoughts and suggestions.

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Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day! Really? Historically Father’s Day hasn’t been a great day for me and I’m sure it’s the same deal for heaps of others – even you maybe? In fact, this post was inspired by a friend of mine – a really great girl called Kate – I spotted her updated on Facebook about how she hates Father’s Day and it got me thinking…

Starting a good few years back and over a period of a few years Father’s Day gradually became a bearable day for me, then a day that didn’t really affect me at all, and now it is slowly progressing on from there. Let me explain some of the reasons why.

I have been married to my super-awesome wife for just over three years now and she comes from such a cool family and has a great dad.
When Lindsay and I decided to get married I got a pretty hard time from her dad – his mission was to make sure that she was marrying a good guy that would take good care of her and treat her well so he put the pressure on. At the time it was difficult, but I appreciate the experience now and realise how much it helped me grow and how much it has strengthened my relationship with him.

The way Lindsay talks about her dad and the way that he treats his daughters (and the way he looked out for her and protected her when I wanted to marry her) shows me how a man can be a good dad and shows me a little bit more of how God sees me as his son. My relationship with my father-in-law also teaches me more of the same. This has improved my perception of God (which admittedly can still use a lot of improvement), my relationship with Him and my knowledge that I can be a great dad one day despite my lack of education on the subject.

That brings me to the next reason that Father’s Day isn’t all that bad for me anymore – me becoming a dad! No, my wife isn’t pregnant, but we have been speaking pretty seriously about making babies so it’s only a matter of time I guess. Thinking about being a dad makes me so amped! And then Father’s Day will be a whole different story won’t it? I’m super-amped to be a dad, but I’m also super-amped to feel what it feels like to love your child with that hectic fatherly love. I’m amped to get a better understanding of how God feels about us as his children so I can know Him more and trust Him more than I do today!

Oh, by the way – I said happy Father’s Day to my dad today. Maybe you should too if you can? Just throwing it out there…

Happy Father’s Day everyone! It’s a good day!!

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Teach me to shave.

When I was 14 years old and in my first year of High School I remember trying really hard to avoid the teachers. There was a particular reason for my attempts at avoidance.

I remember my friends and classmates being told that their facial hair was getting to a point where they needed to start shaving and I was noticing that there was a little more substance to the hair on my face than there had been in the past. I knew that the day was coming when a teacher would pick me out and tell me what the other guys were being told. I dreaded it.

Fortunately I am blonde so my need to shave was a lot less noticable than a lot of the other guys – that would give me a few extra weeks, maybe months, of being able to lay low.

I knew I’d be told I have to start shaving and then I’d have to go home and tell my mom and she’d go and buy me a razor and some shaving cream and then I’d have nobody to teach me how to shave. It seems really trivial now that I know how to do it and, like most guys I’m sure, it’s pretty much second nature to me, but at the time it was a big deal and really had me worried because I had no clue what I was going to do.

I still remember one of my teachers taking me aside and telling me I needed get the hair off my face. His name was Mr Coetzee and he was a really nice guy. He told me in a mellow way and didn’t get too harsh with me. I think he knew it might be something that could be an issue for me so he went easy on me.

So anyway, I went home and told my mom and she went and bought me what I needed like I knew she would. I had all the stuff and I had a vague idea of what I needed to do, but I really wasn’t sure. Now I don’t even know if guys who’s dads were around got them to show them how to shave or not, but I know that at that moment, in the bathroom, I wished that my dad was there to show me. I stood there clueless and lonely. I figured asking my mom would be futile since she had never shaved her face (or ever needed to- thank goodness!). I have a cousin who is three years older than me, and who I looked up to a lot, who had been shaving for a while so I thought I could talk to him, but I thought it would be really embarrassing so I gave it a skip. I didn’t want to ask the guys at school because I was scared they would ask why I didn’t just ask my dad.

I felt really alone at that time. Like a lot of things in my life I taught myself how to shave by trial and error.

What’s the point of this story? Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only guy who didn’t have dad around to teach him stuff. I know there are girls who didn’t have dads around to teach them that they are beautiful and how to respect themselves.
Maybe one of my memories is teaching myself to shave and yours is something else, or a bunch of other things, but there is a whole generation of us whose dads just weren’t around for us. We have taught ourselves how to do a lot of things. We are the fatherless.

My question is this: ‘What can we learn from our dads?’

What my dad did hasn’t shown me how to be a good dad, but what he didn’t do has shown me what I need to do to be a good dad.
If I have a son (or more than one) I will teach him to shave, how to pass a rugby ball, how to catch a wave, how to treat girls with respect, how to be a good, strong, kind person and how to be a good dad to his children. I will give him a sense of worth and help him find his identity. And If I have a daughter I will teach her that she is beautiful and captivating, that she is loved and that she should expect to be treated well and respected by boys and that her dad will always do what he can to protect her.

We may be the fatherless, but we are also the ones that can make sure that the next generation – our children – are not fatherless! We know what not to do. We know how not to be. We are the fathers!

Let’s not make the same mistakes our parents did.

If you’d like to chat you can leave a comment or send me an email.

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At times like this…

It’s at times like this, when things go horribly wrong and I feel so alone that I struggle to see God as a Father. I know in my mind who He is, but in my heart I have so much doubt and find it so hard to trust that He will look out for me and provide for me.

It’s at times like this that I feel so angry at my own Dad for disappointing me so much and contributing so greatly to my skewed view of who God is.

It’s at times like this that I realize that I need Jesus even more and that it’s me who needs to change and not Him.