You know the saying, “knowing is half the battle?” I tend to disagree with this. Although I grant that “becoming aware” is often a difficult, laborious, and painful experience, I think it’s more like, “knowing is 30% of the battle,” for a certain kind of person anyways, one who is relatively self-aware and introspective.

In fact, believing that “knowing is half the battle” can be deceptive. It makes progress in authentic change in character or behaviour sound easier or further along that it actually is. For simply knowing is a false indicator that a significant amount of true change has taken place. Don’t get me wrong though. I think knowing is an important and necessary part of change, but I also think it is only too easy to stay the same, in spite of knowing, in spite of being more self-aware.

Sometimes I think that to know or to become more aware and STILL not do something that leads to real change is even more damning. When those of us (with sensitive consciences) still do what we know better not to do (especially after having become more aware of the problem), we end up feeling even more frustrated and wretched (doesn’t this sound so Paul-ine?). Truly, “ignorace is bliss.”

I would even go so far to say that, for some people, knowing actually serves as an obstacle to real change (this is hard to explain, but I’ll try). I know that I have taken many an opportunity to “confess” my self-awareness or admit my limitations in conversation. And in doing that, I actually come away feeling justified to stay the same. I actually give myself the license to keep doing what I do. I mean, I’m aware of the problem after all, which counts for something, right? At least, 50%. This reasoning is a weird, subtle form of control. It’s kinda like, if I get to admit my faults first before anyone else points it out to me (because it isn’t anyone’s business), then wow, good for me, at least I’m aware of my problem (how open and honest is she!), which is more than we can expect from the average person. But that simply ain’t true, is it. It is so self-deceiving! Can you not sense a prideful, resistant control freak lurking underneath?

At the end of the day, the will always trumps knowledge. While knowledge may move us further along the path of change, or increase our chances of authentically changing, it is still our will that actually makes us decide whether or not to do something differently. And even if we are unaware or ignorant, it is the will that moves us to know more, to become more informed. There are situations, of course, where people do stupid things because they genuinely don’t know any better. But I think adults can use that reason only up to a certain point. Beyond that point, it becomes an an excuse.

Hmm, perhaps authentic change depends on the kind or depth of knowledge gained. That is, for someone like myself who considers herself to be fairly self-aware, maybe she doesn’t know as much as she think she does. Maybe I don’t have or am resistant to the “right” kind of knowledge; I am unwilling to be infused with a kind of knowledge that truly convicts or inspires change. I suppose this kind of knowledge is called Truth.

Thank God, then, for his Spirit, who is at work perseveringly on/in a tough nut like me.