The Challenge of Change
It was the summer of 2011, and I sat there feeling hot in my graduation cap and gown, surrounded by the friends that I’d spent the last three years studying, exploring and enjoying life with. A couple of rows behind sat my parents, next to the man that would become my fiance in just a few weeks time. The speaker reminded us to savour and enjoy the special moment we were in, and the people around us, because it would soon change.
Everything in me agreed. At that moment I became aware that I was not just sat in a stuffy ceremony hall, but in the midst of a significant time of adjustment. Since then, I’ve ‘officially’ left my parent’s home, moved halfway around the world, and begun preparing to get married. That’s a lot of change in four months! In fact, it seems like my life has been changing fairly regularly, and fairly drastically, since I left school at eighteen and got my first full time job.
Now, I don’t mean to sound like a drama queen. I’m not asking for you to sympathise with my plight - I’m actually very happy for all these changes (especially getting married!). But sometimes change can be a challenge. At some points I think I’ve managed it better than others. I’ve been ridiculously excited about something new, only to be terrified all of a sudden at the unknown, desperate to clutch back the decision that I made. Then, a short while later, I’ve felt thrilled again at the prospective adjustments. Transition is definitely challenging- that’s the nature of change. The fact that something is new means that you’re not used to it, and that can be refreshing, but also a bit scary.
"Transition has value, it will be worth it."
I’ve thought a lot about how to face change - how do you transition well? How do you stop yourself becoming an emotional yo-yo? Can you actually enjoy transitioning from one part of life to the next? Is the challenge of change really worth it?
One of my regular prayers is “God, please stretch me. Don’t let me get stale or too comfortable in my relationship with you or in my life.” He’s answered that prayer again and again, but when things get a bit more difficult I’ve found myself saying, “God, why is life so hard? Why can’t it just stay the same and be easy? Why can’t I just stay at home where my mum makes me tea and I can eat the cheese toasties my dad makes for the rest of my life?!” Somewhere in the middle of my rant I remember what my first prayer was. After calming down, I realise that actually, as much as I love cheese toasties and tea, that’s not what will fulfill me most in life. I’d be really bored! Staying in a good place can be a prison if you’re supposed to move on.
Sometimes we have to give stuff up in times of change. It could be giving up seeing your family as regularly as you’d like to, or perhaps giving up the comfortable position of being good at what you do in order to learn something new. David knew that sacrificing something to God that cost him nothing was worthless (2 Samuel 24:24) - I always remember that. If transitioning is costly, that’s because it has value, it will be worth it. You will learn things about God, yourself, and the world around you that you might not have seen without life adjusting.
I guess what I’ve been learning most of all is thankfulness. When life is swirling around us and the ground beneath us feels like jelly, we need some perspective that life hasn’t always been that way. Being thankful to God reminds us of the good things he has done in our lives, that he is here with us now, and also helps us put our trust in him. So many times, when I’ve been overwhelmed, I’ve remembered God’s faithfulness to me, the freedom I have in him, and how he has always kept his promises. He reminds me he won’t leave me in the middle of this for me to go it alone. God is trustworthy!
No matter how bad things are, no matter how big and black the storm clouds appear, I find that there is always at least one tiny thing to be thankful for. (The more I practice thankfulness, the longer my list gets!) Gratitude, dwelling on the good, will lift you above the storm into the sunshine.
Other people help, too. Talk it out. Talking about the transitions you’re facing with a level-headed person who is outside of the situation really helps. Everyone has had to go through change. Another person will probably be able to see the truth of what’s going on a bit easier than you will. My friends and family have often brought me a lot of clarity and helped life feel more normal again.
I’ll leave you with a phrase that I have held on to for the last few months:
“He will be the sure foundation of your times, a rich store of salvation and knowledge...” (Isaiah 33:6)
God will be your sure, firm foundation. He will always be secure. He never changes. His love never fails.