As defined in the dictionary, a paradigm shift is “an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.”
Many of the paradigm shifts I have either experienced or heard about in my life have not only changed my way of thinking or doing, but have also provided inspirational insights that have led to deep and meaningful learning experiences.
Recently I spoke with a good friend who lives in another state. It had been several months since we spoke and in the course of catching up, he shared a series of events that had recently happened in his life that resulted in him experiencing a substantial paradigm shift. So, with permission from my friend I would like to share his experience and subsequent paradigm shift, in hopes you might benefit from hearing about it as I did.
My friend really is a consummate friend. He frequently reaches out to those in need and offers selfless friendship and support to family and friends. As an example, with his elderly mother’s health failing, he and his wife took his mother into their home to live with them. He made arrangements at work to take extended lunches if needed to check on and care for her.
In the middle of one night his mother was not feeling well. After making it all the way to the hospital, sadly, she died from a heart attack in the parking lot. In the quiet of the night, while alone with her in the parking lot after her passing, my friend thought about a homily given by the priest at the church he attends. He felt a calmness in the words of the Scriptures that were shared in that homily. The words sustained him.
In the weeks and months after his mother passed, my friend really struggled. As a way to cope with the loss, he decided to dedicate himself to greater community and church service in honor of his mother who herself was very dedicated to serving others.
In addition to joining various community service organizations and enlisting in multiple service opportunities, my friend joined a prison ministry that provides outreach and support to inmates. He shared his initial uncertain and nervous feelings about how to relate to, communicate with, and help people who are in prison for engaging in things that he did not condone. Then came the paradigm shift, or a change in how he viewed the inmates.
One day at the prison while among several inmates, he had a realization: he was not the judge.
He was there to minister to them, not to judge them for their actions. His paradigm shift reminded me of the counsel to “judge not” that Jesus provides to all of us in the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount found in the New Testament of the Bible in the Book of Matthew chapter 7:1-5.
Near the end of our conversation and after sharing several stories about many other service opportunities he is anxiously engaged in, my friend, who is in his mid 50s stated: “Since I have been engaged in all of this service, I have never been happier in all my life.”
After hearing my friends proclamation about this new level of life happiness, I also experienced a paradigm shift related to service and happiness. My thoughts went to the Scriptures to Luke 9:24 where Jesus states that “for whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”
I am grateful for the opportunity I had to not only learn about my good friend’s paradigm shift related to judging others. I am also grateful to experience my own paradigm shift as well as it relates to the happiness that comes from serving others.