The joy and pain of change

Jodie McNeill

Last week I had the enormous pleasure of watching the recently-released movie ‘Mrs Carey’s Concert.’

In this fly-on-the-wall documentary about the events of the music department of MLC Burwood, we experience the intensely hard work leading up to the biennial school concert at the Opera House.

What makes this movie so rewarding is viewing how key characters grow through the experience of working together on a challenging, major creative project.

The film focuses on a select number of students, and most notably the girl who was chosen to be the first violinist, and leader of the orchestra.

Early in the movie, she is identified as demonstrating ‘at risk’ behaviour, including truancy. Her teachers were concerned about her future.

Yet, the music teacher, Mrs Carey, recognised that despite the girl’s concerning behaviour, this girl showed potential to grow, and a capacity to change.

Well, at risk of spoiling the end of the movie, we see a beautiful picture of change as this girl blossoms from a troubled teenager to a shining young woman.

For me, it was quite an emotional experience. Tears ran down my cheeks as I saw the profound transformation in this girl’s life, and the lives of those around her.

It is amazing to see the way that doing hard things can bring growth. If we think that it’s easy to be an excellent athlete without pain and struggle, then we’re deluded.

For some of us, we make the choice to take on a challenge. We might decide to train for a marathon, or study a new language, or learn a new musical instrument.

But for many of us at many stages, the challenge to grow is not one that we choose for ourselves.

In the letter to the Hebrews, the readers are reminded about how some of the great and often painful difficulties we face have come from our heavenly Father.

These difficulties are not, however, a sign of God’s hate for us, but rather for his love for us.

And so, in Hebrews chapter 12, verses 7 to 12, we read of some wonderful and comforting words about the hardship that our heavenly father grants us in order to grow us:

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

If you are going through a hard time right now, then don’t despair. God may be leading you through a hard time because he loves you and seeks to see you grow and change.

Like a perfect father, God loves to see his children grow. And as a perfect father, he will discipline us as a sign of his love for us, as sons.

Remember: no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Jodie McNeill is the Executive Director of Youthworks Outdoors

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