People can absolutely change. As S’mee pointed out, the Atonement is the most obvious example.
When people are converted to the gospel, they experience a change of heart.
Some people don’t want to change though. Change can be painful and scary. Sometimes old habits, even when bad, can be more comfortable than the idea of changing.
Yes, but usually they won’t. My father has chosen to forsake his children and grandchildren because he is unwilling to change anything in his behavior. Of course to change you have to acknowledge something needs to be changed.
Proof: I will be 10 years sober in February. People change everyday. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. As someone who has worked in psych and rehabilitation for years (everything from cigarettes to crack to porn), I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that people can change. Sometimes it is a matter of finding the right motivation, sometimes the right medication .
I know what you’re asking. The sad, wretched, broken me want to scream “NO! No one ever really changes; they always slip back eventually. Gravity is too strong and it’s just too hard. The natural man takes over when your guard is down.”
But the part of me that believes in Christ and has seen the atonement in action, with faith and deep conviction knows better. It’s not easy. It’s not a common thing. But yes. Yes, they can. But only through faith.
I am quite a bit different than I was in high school. Sometimes I am embarrassed when I see people I haven’t seen in a long time. I don’t want them to think I am still as idiotic as I once was. And I am still continuing to change as I gain a better understanding of the gospel. It can be a slow process… kind of a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing, but at least I am trying.
That is a great talk from Elder Faust about change.
Of course, although I do believe that even the hardest criminals can change, I think sometimes it is still better to be safe than sorry. If a child molester claimed to have changed, I probably still would rather be safe than sorry, and wouldn’t allow my child alone with him/her. Does that make me a bad person? I’m honestly not sure about the answer.
Ginger, of course you are not a bad person. I believe the scriptures make mention of a millstone for those who harm children. I’m sure there is something similar for those who knowingly risk their children- ie. giving a molester (past or present) access. Put rather bluntly- believing in the atonement and a person’s ability to change doesn’t mean you have to be stupid.
Oh yes, people can change, for good or bad. My dear husband stopped drinking before we started dating, gained a testimony of the gospel, and truly tries his best to be a good person. My grandmother was never a really nice, pleasant person to be around and played obvious favorites with her children and grandchildren. We didn’t expect her to live long past my grandfather, but in her 80’s, she has changed. She has become more aware of the compassion in the world, has developed a sense of gratitude, and is more aware of the family dynamics and the character faults of her “favorites.” It is nice to visit her now. On the other hand, my father is no longer the person my mother married or the man who raised us. He has become a selfish, passive-aggressive man who neglects his responsibilities and blames others/the world for his problems.
Repentance is change. Self improvement is change. Change can be a wonderful thing if we are facing the right direction when we do it.
Of course people can change. I’m different in many ways than I was 15 years ago - more open minded, less idealistic, more confident, more discerning of quality. But I also as the same in many ways.
My dad changed a lot after he left my mom and married another woman. Problem is, none of his kids (we were all adults by then) trust the change because it was so sudden. Did he really change or is the “real” dad hiding in there somewhere? So, to me, the question is, can you make a real, permanent change quickly?
I guess I’m just asking because I’ve been thinking about our eternal natures, and what it means to have always been who we are now, the whole eternal spirit stuff. And if our nature has always been, than how much wiggle room do we have? And if some people do and some people don’t change, what is it about the people who do change that makes them different from the people who don’t? Is it something in their nature that makes them seek out a change? Are our natures fundamentally fixed?
No, I don’t believe our natures are fundamentally fixed because the whole point of this earth life is to change our natures, while under pressure from temptations, to be like God’s. So change is not only possible, it’s absolutely essential. Without it we won’t ever progress to the state we need to be in in order to be worthy to live with God again and become like Him. We obviously weren’t yet where we needed to be in the pre-earth life because God needed us to come to this life, not only to receive a body but to learn true obedience to Him. Each one of us is capable of that kind of change, but thanks to agency we have the choice, and what we do with that choice makes all the difference. Some of us have drastic changes to make, most probably smaller ones, but we all have them and they’re all important, no matter how big, because they’re none of them easy. Your changes might be a cinch to me yet the hardest thing you’ve ever experienced. Yet thanks to Christ’s Atonement, they truly are all possible. What a beautiful gospel we have!
I’ve changed, and I’m doing my best to make it stick. There was a Seventy who spoke during the Sunday afternoon session of conference who talked about heart transplants, and looking for the warning signs of rejecting a heart transplant. He used it as a metaphor for people who have had a change of heart. It’s true you have to work on that change daily for as long as it takes to make it permanent. That’s hard to do.
In my opinion, the difference between people who can change and people who can’t is humility. People who have to be right no matter what will not be able to change. People who can admit they have problems and the responsibility to do something about them will be able to change. Proud people can’t change. But of course, prideful people can learn humility, and admit they’ve been wrong. It’s just really painful.
Change is a powerful thing. Change is good. You change to adapt to your surroundings. You change as circumstances around you change. You change as your knowledge (or remembrance) comes to light and you remember better who you are and act accordingly. Change is part of life, it is who we are, the continually learning and growing selves.
Argh…the power went out and lost my almost finished comment.
Heather–yes I also sometimes wonder about the same thing. So many of us come here already packaged with our personalities in tact–how much can we change? Is the same amount of change expected for everyone? Seems like some people have an unfair advantage. However, as the scriptures mention the biggest change, the change of heart–which has to do with repentance, charity and the atonement–is a gift. It is something we can all seek and ask for, but in the end it’s a gift. And I think it’s important to note, that even after you attain that gift, you can lose it again. So yes I think change–even deep and rue change is possible.
When I think of someone who truly changed for the better I think of a guy I knew in high school and who randomly roomed with my freshman year college boyfriend. This guy was just one of those moody, ‘too cool for school’ guys who even if he knew you usually just slightly nodded his head in acknowledgement as he walked by. He smirked, but never smiled. He wasn’t mean but just stand off-ish and just sort of an all around punk. After his mission we all ran into him on numerous occasions and couldn’t believe it! He was this super humble, smiley, uber friendly guy! He glowed. It was so uncanny. Truly we were all amazed… I’ve never seen a change in countenance so clearly as I saw in this guy.