A Converted Heart
What’s a converted heart? It’s a heart awakened. That’s for sure. (See also: Spiritual Awakening and Character Growth.) But it’s more than that. It’s a heart re-dedicated, committed. And every action a person takes testifies to that reality.
How do you spot a converted heart? How do you know someone has changed inside? You can’t see inside someone. But you can certainly witness their behavior. And that’s where the evidence of real change always lies. A converted heart prompts different action. That principle lies at the heart of the cognitive-behavioral paradigm. How we really see things, the attitudes we have, the beliefs we hold – these things govern our behavior. Talk, as they say, is cheap. Actions, as they also say, speak much louder than words. And they reflect the current condition of the human heart.
Time and time again, people ask me how to know when someone has really changed. I always advise they look at behavior. But they rightfully question whether that’s enough. Some folks have learned all to well that you can act contrite, and not be contrite, for example. Occasional gestures are one thing. Patterns of behavior are quite another. Especially, consistent patterns. Therefore, how you judge that someone has reliably changed has more to do with how they conduct themselves in a wide variety of situations.
I talk a lot about judging change in How Did We End Up Here? Folks who’ve had a bad relationship experience need a way of knowing when there’s really hope. So, I explain what “metanoia” is and how to spot a converted heart. Personality, by definition, is a style of relating. Moreover, we define our character by the ethical and moral aspects of our personality. A person who’s been converted doesn’t relate the way they used to. Their whole manner of seeing and doing is different. It’s an observable change, and a reliable one at that.
The Change Process
There are telltale signs someone is really changing. For most of us, conversion is a process. And you can read more about that process in some articles on this blog:
- Shame, Guilt, Regret, Remorse, and Contrition
- What Real Contrition Looks Like
- Contrition Revisited
- Contrition, Behavior, and Therapy
And you can also learn about these matters in greater depth and with real examples in:
I would sincerely appreciate all your well-wishes for the first of what will be an ongoing reconstruction effort in Puerto Rico. My wife and I will be joining an interfaith team with experience on the ground to shore up damaged housing in the hardest hit areas. It is truly a shame that after all this time many of our U.S. citizens are still so badly hurting. And I plan to post something about our experience next week.