It’s been said that change comes hard. That may be true most of the time, but I've found that it depends upon what kind of change it is. I am a person who generally goes with the flow. Laid back. Spontaneous. That’s more likely a palatable way of saying that I am undisciplined, but whatever it is, I can readily embrace change under the right circumstances.
In areas of personal strength or interest, a change of plan is quite often received as a welcome surprise. Fortunately for me, I married a man who equally enjoys life sprinkled with the unscheduled elements
that either procrastination or imagination produces. It all depends on your perspective.
Take for example, the Saturday evening many years ago when my beloved ended his long work week with a ravenous appetite for pizza. After considering and then promptly eliminating the usual local options, he
offered a suggestion that instantly trumped all other ideas—we would pack up our 5 kids and head to Mack and Mancos for their mouth-watering pizza pie! It didn’t matter that we live in PA and the pizza shop was at the New Jersey shore. What’s a mere two hour drive when you have no plans for the evening and your cupboard is just as empty as your stomach?
And then there were the many mission trips I have been privileged to experience. “You went where?” “To do what?”. Sweet memories flood my mind as I recall some of the personal challenges I faced trying to adapt well to temporary inconveniences. Little things really, like illuminating the wooden seat inside a Haitian outhouse to expose any Black widow spiders, or quickly chewing without first asking what I was eating in Guyana, and gliding through the dark backwaters of the mighty Amazon in Peru, mindful of the steady, watchful eyes that peered out from behind the twisted jungle vegetation.
Odd as it may sound, those moments were exhilarating for me. While there was a slight level of danger involved, it was empowering to push myself and see what I could do. Fear was certainly part of the equation, but it didn’t define it. It was change, to be sure, but relatively temporary change. A few months ago, I embarked on another kind of challenge, and while it was not an adventure that took me to the uttermost points of the world, it has stretched me to see what I can do.
I started a new job. “That’s it? A new job?”
Yes, this woman who dangerously prides herself in facing her fears while channeling through gator infested waters was given pause at the thought of beginning a new job. Change is not as easy when it comes in sequences that run longer than 10 days, or in opportunities that cause old insecurities to float to the surface. The all too familiar fears pop up effortlessly. “What if I am just not good enough? What if I fail?”
The reality is that change and fear do not need to be dysfunctional partners in a new endeavor. While I may hesitate, I am learning that I can embrace those fears in a healthy way, face them head on and plow right through them. The catch is that I cannot rely on my own fortitude to do it.
Phillipians 4:19 is not a casually claimed verse for me, but a very real promise I hang onto. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I am able to lay down my need to know how it all plays out because I know it’s not really about the job. It’s not even about the change itself. It’s about learning to trust a loving God who supplies my every need. It’s the revelation that He has my best interest in mind, if only I will surrender my need to control. Change can be a glorious thing when I empty myself of me. Or it can simply be a new thing. Quite frankly, I am looking for more than just a new thing.
I wish I could say that I have learned to effortlessly embrace change in my areas of weakness, but I am not quite there yet.
If I am being completely honest, the core issue is pride. Tackling a new thing that doesn't come easily presents the risk of failure and a loss of control. Maintaining control is hard work and quite simply, a wearisome illusion. I know that I must become weak in my own eyes, so that in my weakness Christ is made strong. Trouble is, I don’t like being weak. And I hate failure. But the upside is that it brings me to my knees in surrender to Someone who does have the power and will help me do what I cannot do for myself.
And therein lies joy and security, even when the change is difficult and unfamiliar.
We never did make it to Mack and Mancos that Saturday night so long ago. Our seasoned parental sensibilities won out. Spontaneity and hunger bowed to the logistical ease of the local drive-in. But as I write this, it occurs to me that the last one of the kids has been out of the house for over 2 years now, and my hubby and I have no plans for tonight.
I'll have one slice with mushroom and a small Pepsi, please.