One of my favorite TV commercials shows a little boy sitting at the kitchen table with a look of anger and disgust on his face, the voice of his mother booming in the background, "You can't leave the table until you eat your vegetables!"
The next frame shows him still sitting there, aged many years, with grey hair and a long beard. The vegetables are still sitting there too.
Oh, how well I remember those words from my mother when I was a little boy.
The only vegetables I would eat when I was young were green beans, or pork and beans, and donuts. Peas, carrots, spinach, brussels sprouts, cabbage, corn, or beets were just nasty, nasty....nasty!
To my way of thinking they may as well have been poisonous!
I remember many dinners ending with me sitting at the table long after my brothers and sisters had moved on to other things. I sat there staring at my plate with that spoonful of peas or carrots staring back at me.
Mom's threats hanging over my head, "No dessert for you, young man!" "Douglas, you will sit there until those peas are gone!"
In time, she softened, "Okay, just one little bite!?"
The longer I sat there the colder the food on my plate got, and I could imagine the mold forming over that serving of nasty green stuff.
That was a long time ago, and it is really something how my taste buds and food likes and dislikes have changed over the years.
I was at a church potluck dinner the other evening and I loaded my plate with vegetables. I had green beans (still my go-to veggie), onions and peppers, peas, turnips, lima beans, black-eyed peas, and sweet potatoes. And I enjoyed every bite!
I now get up from the table when I am good and ready. And I don't have anyone telling me to clean my plate or eat my veggies.
Lots of things have changed with me over the years, not just my evolving taste for vegetables. But, there have been a lot of changes.
I had a friend who served for many years as a missionary to Japan named Bro. Paul. I heard him say on numerous occasions, "One thing is constant, change is here to stay!"
We are always evolving, always changing. Not just physically, but emotionally, socially and spiritually too.
Many people want to change certain things about themselves, certain things they do, habits they have developed. And I know that we can change our behavior.
We have to change our mind if we want to change our actions. And the greatest change agent that any of us can have is the Holy Spirit.
Romans 12:2 tells us that we can be transformed, or changed, by the renewing of our mind. As we are transformed, or changed, and our mind is renewed, we find out what God's will is for us, what God's purpose is.
Looking back over the years, I can see how my temperament has changed in many ways. There were certain habits that have changed, and my way of thinking has changed.
I am not the man I used to be, and I am glad for that.
The Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that when a person becomes a Christian, they become a new creation; the old things pass away, and things become new.
We change. We grow up.
It's not just about vegetables, or likes and dislikes. It's about becoming better.
Like my friend said, change is here to stay.
Doug Dezotell is the pastor of Mt. Lebanon UMC and Cannon UMC. He is a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, and he is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a friend to many. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.