Do you really believe people have the ability to drastically change?

Apparently, President Bush must believe in the power to change.

This month, he gave four pardons to people who resolved to make amends for past sins. However, a comparison done by CNN suggests that Bush seems more reticent than his predecessors to accept the New Year’s resolutions of ex-cons.

In his first term, he’s only pardoned or commuted the sentences of 31 people. In contrast, the senior Bush father granted 77 pardons and President Clinton pardoned 456 people during both his terms.

Like President Bush, many of us are reluctant to believe that people can change. Perhaps this is why New Year’s resolutions seem so cliché.

My experience is that the inspiration to change comes to us through the voice of God in people. In my life, the person who best inspires change is my wife.

This month, we celebrated 25 years of marriage by spending a week in Hawaii. The islands have inspiring beauty, but they dim in comparison to the inspiration my wife gives me to grow and change.

The changes she inspires aren’t always immediate and dramatic. The truth is that while many of us pray for the miraculously painless and ” born again ” type changes, real progress comes with small, persistent changes. My wife is good at helping me make those small steps.

For instance, last month, she expressed some concern that I hadn’t put my plate in the dishwasher after I rinsed it.

I told her that there are lots of men who wouldn’t have even rinsed the plate in the first place.

To which she responded – ” Yeah, well there are a lot of men I DIDN’T MARRY. ”

Her suggestion that she chose me over ” a lot of men ” inspires me to do my best.

But, for the bigger changes, she knows she needs the help of prayer.

Being the subject of the prayer isn’t always easy for me. The effort it takes to get the male ego to admit that he’s spiritually lost his way is closely related to the effort it takes to get him to admit he’s lost his way on Maui’s only road to Hana.

But I digress.
When my wife married me, I think she assumed that it would be an easy thing to get her chaplain husband to pray. Well, it’s not easy. Maybe it’s like getting a plumber to fix his own sink.

But that doesn’t slow her down much. She simply takes my hand, looks into my eyes and finds that place in the center of my soul that hurts the most and suddenly I know – she’s fixin’ to pray and change is a-comin’. (See my column of Feb 27 04 at

It’s an amazing thing to share a prayer with someone who believes It in you. It’s restorative, it’s redemptive, it’s It creative, it’s replenishing.

So this year, I’d like to challenge you to make one resolution. No, two resolutions.

First, resolve to throw out the cliché resolutions.

Second, resolve to pray for someone. Resolve to believe in someone. After all, if believing in someone can get your dishes washed, how great is that?