And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
We are made for change.
It’s hard for me to believe that I graduated from my Master’s program almost a year ago. After graduation, I spent some time with family, then I spent some time prepping for my job search, then job searching, and a little over 6 months ago I started work as an Instructional Designer
Lots of people have asked me, “What IS an instructional designer?”
So, if you are wondering about this, you are not alone! Many people design instruction in the course of their work —teachers, trainers, human resources professionals, pastors, and more (even some graphic designers and UX designers do this). But instructional designers with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or PhD degree have become experts at creating instructional experiences that meet learners right where they are. Instructional design (ID) professionals learn to select the most appropriate tools for design and development and to apply the most meaningful theories from cognitive and neuroscience and the study of human behavior.
Studying how and why we learn has been my favorite part of becoming an ID professional. If you want to see the kind of work I do, you can visit my professional portfolio here. Of course, I cannot separate what I know to be true about God from what I have learned to be true about His creation. We are made in His image: He is steadfast and unchanging, yet His mercies are new every morning (Gen 1:27; Lam 3:22-23). God is constantly renewing His covenant with us. He does not tire or grow weary because He is the source of all newness and life (Is. 40:28).
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV
God made us to reflect His image to the world, so like Him, we are both predictable and yet able to display change. We have been (and are being) renewed by the Spirit of the Lord, alive in us (2 Cor. 3:18). But sometimes, I don’t feel new. Sometimes I just feel stuck. You know? Sometimes, what I read about in God’s Word is not what I feel happening in my heart:
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 3:18
That is why learning how we have been MADE (made for change) has been such a comfort for me. I can’t help but see how kind God has been to us by equipping us to participate in the difficult task of change. Make no mistake about it, God has called us to the task of becoming more and more like Him. And yet. He is 100% the change agent, while somehow still calling us to the work of conforming our will to His will. [BTW, This is some upside-down thinking for me!] The Spirit and the Word act on our behalf to do the work of making us Holy. Still, we are called to actively participate in this life of renewal. Our part in God’s plan is really a mystery, but His word is clear—we must let God transform us.
We know that God is at work to change us, spiritually, but what a blessing to know that He has created us with the ability to change mentally, emotionally, and physically. Have you heard of neuroplasticity? Neuroplasticity is “the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.” Because of the way the Lord made us, we have an amazing ability to grow, change, and improve—this is what makes learning new ways of thinking, acting, and being possible. Through learning, you can strengthen your brain like exercise strengthens your muscles.
The truth of how we have been made by God has been revealed to learning scientists, whether they acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or not. This knowledge is available to us in the way of theories, paradigms, strategies, and practices—when all the world (both the sacred and the secular) benefits from a gift freely given by God, we call that “Common Grace.”
Learning sciences—psychology, neuroscience, social learning, cognitive science, and more—are a gift from God that can help us take hold of our opportunity for change. God makes a way for us to participate in our own transformation—through learning. As our minds and hearts change for the better, our responses (behaviors) can improve to enable us to reflect His image more accurately and enjoy closer fellowship with Him.
So, I am excited to embark on a new writing task: bringing my love of the Lord and my love of learning together here on these blog pages. I am planning to share with you some exciting things I’ve learned about how God has given us the gift of change. Want to come with?