15%, Give or Take / by Kendall R

Recently, a friend - whom I have known in quite a few different stages of life and simply adore - flew in from New Orleans (Yay! Saints!) and we got to talking over dinner about Change. We were sharing stories about recent emails we each have received from shattered friendships seeking forgiveness, or at the least, apologizing. As we traded our experiences, our responses to these emails, I got to thinking about an episode of “Modern Family” called “Fifteen Percent.”

At the end of the show, one of the characters, Mitchell, says “Can people change? I don’t know. People are who they are, give or take fifteen percent – that’s how much people can change if they really want to…”



It’s true. The people that change beyond the 15% are the ones that have had some significantly, life-altering, you-would-never-wish-this-on-anyone experience… and even then, many soon revert back to who they have always been.

As my friend and I were talking about this, it became clear just how much of a gift that reality can be. It gives me the freedom to accept folks for who they are. It frees up energy normally spent trying to get them to change so that can be spent enjoying each other, allowing space for grace. (On the other hand, it’s a good reminder that the crazy, destructive types tend to always be the crazy destructive types and it is good to give them a wide berth.)

As much as I “get” this, it is more common that I don’t and waste time puckered over something I can’t change to begin with. But then… it only takes reading anything I’ve written here at The Ink to see my own 15% of change happens at a glacial pace most of the time.

My friend and I wrapped up dinner so she could get some sleep before that up-before-God flight back to NOLA, and I thought over how much she had changed in the years I’ve known her. Her change that keeps coming isn’t so much about a 180 turn as it is becoming more who she’s always been in the ways that are good and alive in her own skin. Whether that’s just a degree of 15% or something else, I can’t say, but I have to think it’s accepting each other where we’re at that has allowed us to see and celebrate each other where we’ve be-come.

Update
So, I was reading Shannalee T'Koy's take on Change and I said that we seem to be looking at the same piece of art from different sides of the room. It's not that we are born as we are and don't change. It is my experience we are born who we are and, if we take the risk, spend the rest of life becoming who we were meant to be.

Along with that, is the specific realm of marriage. I am not, but I am surrounded by many that have been for 15, 20, 30+ years. And something I hear from each of them is how the person they married doesn't seem to change much as the years go by...it's that they stop trying to make them into what they imagined when they married them in the first place, and so allow them space to become who they were meant to be. There is a grace in accepting each other, a freedom that we lose when we can't seem to get the Other to change into who we imagine them to be.

All easier said than done...