Change — it can be painful! Babies cry when they start teething. Mothers cry the first day of kindergarten. We cry when we leave one place and move to another.
There is something in us that really longs for permanence. We want the good times to last. And in some weird way, some of us choose to marinate in pain for the same reason.
We like familiar. There’s a saying about staying in unpleasant places, or with difficult people, rather than risking a change for the worse — “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”
BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW THAN THE DEVIL YOU DON’T KNOW: It is often preferable to choose or stay with people or things you know, despite their faults, than to risk replacing them with somebody or something new but possibly less desirable. It is better to deal with something bad you know than with something new you don’t; the new thing might be even worse.
How many times have I avoided a change, even good change, because there was risk involved? I have often taken the “safe route,” thinking it was easier. That unpleasant conversation? Avoid it — stay unreconciled — if you can’t control the outcome. New people? Hide yourself — stay lonely —so they won’t reject you. The next step to take? Keep your feet planted — and feel stuck — so you won’t make a mistake.
But God has other ideas. He has big plans for His children. He is not afraid of change. In fact, He is the Author of change. He created us to change, to grow and learn and adapt throughout all of our lives. And, He created us for change — “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17, ESV).
God is re-making us in His image, daily. In my life, change feels really messy and ugly. I’m ever so grateful that He doesn’t leave change to me. I’m a weak, pathetic creature that covets comfort. A heart, rubbed the wrong way so many times, develops some very painful and raw spots where change feels like salt in the wound.
As for me, I’m in a season where it feels like everything has changed. My husband retired from the military. We’ve moved to a new city, in another part of the country. So of course, we changed churches. I have homeschooled my kiddos since 2010, but this year their schooling is 100% online, done from home. In a new town, I meet new people everyday, everywhere I go. In my new city, so far, I have some really wonderful acquaintances, but no friends of my own. When my kids enroll in traditional school next year, I’m uncertain about what I’ll do with my time. I have a stress fracture in my foot, so I’m dealing with changes in my mobility and activity too. I’m awash in change and it’s all pretty overwhelming.
Some days I want to just pull the covers over my head. But apparently, when you’re a grownup that’s frowned upon. I’m realizing how helpless I really am. I am learning how ineffective I am. It’s become obvious that I’m completely powerless in many ways. All I have to say about this interim place is, (1) “Blech!” and (2) “How long, Lord?” Yet, somehow I know that this is a good place. I am right where I am supposed to be. Living things grow or die, so I have to grow.
“Each day we are becoming a creature of splendid glory or one of unthinkable horror.” C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity
I see that change is happening on the inside first. My circumstances have been exactly the same for over two months. But lately, I am beginning to find peace with dis-comfort. I am making friends with uncertainty. I’m no longer flinching at loneliness. I’ve found that I can’t hate where I am, knowing that God has brought me to this place, and I trust that He will bring through this, to a new place. The day will come when I will know His will for me, when I will feel a part of community, when I will walk in purpose, and when I will dream big again. Just not today.
Coming to terms with all this uneasiness hasn’t been painless, but God is transforming my thinking. And He promises that this type of change is good change:
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
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