In Leo Tolstoy’s novel, The Death of Ivan Ilych, the protagonist, Ivan Ilych, is a smart, competent attorney who is dying from an unknown cause. 

Leo Tolstoy
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Tolstoy writes: “Ivan Ilych's physical sufferings were terrible, but worse than the physical sufferings were his mental sufferings which were his chief torture. His mental sufferings were due to the fact that at night, as he looked at Gerasim's sleepy, good-natured face with its prominent cheek-bones, the question suddenly occurred to him: ‘What if my whole life has been wrong?’ It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true.” 

What a sobering question.

I doubt if many of us will get to the end of our lives and wonder, “What if my whole life has been wrong?” But all of us should embrace the fact that there are specific areas of our lives that are wrong and need to change. 
    What if you have lived a self-centered life?
    What if you have been harsh with family? 
    What if you have not lived authentically?

Know this: there are areas of your life in which you are wrong. If you think you are an exception to this statement, your pushback betrays your error.

If our wrongs have adversely affected other people, we must heed the words of the apostle James, “Confess your faults to each other” (James 5:16). 

How long has it been since you spoke these words: “I am wrong; please forgive me.”? For most of us, it’s been too long.

And, the good news is that we can change those areas in which we have been wrong. Tolstoy also famously wrote, "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself."

But you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so step one is to think deeply and thoroughly about areas of your life that need to change and then deal with them one at a time, starting with the areas that demand a confession to others.

Written by Don McMinn, Ph.D. ( — June 09, 2014

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