This Ever-Changing Life
The next fear that I’ll mention is probably one of my least favorite things in the whole world and not surprisingly, something that I am currently being confronted with at all angles. And that’s the fear of change. I dislike change, even change that I am looking forward to. No matter how positive the change is, I still have a hard time adjusting. And unfortunately, nothing ever stays the same. Oftentimes, I’ll hear older moms say to younger moms when they are dealing with teething and colic--”This too shall pass.” They mean it as encouragement, and it is, but it’s also sobering. Yes, the struggle won’t last forever--but neither will the mountaintop experience. Not on this side of heaven. Yes, the diapers, and drool, and sleepless nights will soon pass-- but so will the stories, the cuddles and the family time. It all passes too quickly and it seems the older I get the more I feel like I’m trying to grasp too tightly. It's similar to riding a merry-go-round. When things are hard, I want to spin it faster until the pain and struggle are over. When they are good, I want to set my foot to the ground and slow time down to make it last. But I’m not in control. Learning to be content in every state as the apostle Paul said is not an easy task--and only accomplishable through Christ. Paul wrote that admonition while in prison, but he also made sure to explain HOW we can do this--because that strength doesn't lie within our weak flesh. Thankfully, Philippians 4:13 shares the promise that, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
So much has changed over the last few months. At the beginning of April, I had no idea that I would be penning this post from our new home in Texas. I had never even been to Texas before. Weeks before, Brett and I had been praying for God's direction in our lives--whether to stay or go and what He desired for us to do. In mid April, he received a call from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. They asked to interview him over Skype. The next day, they called and asked him to travel to Texas the following week. We went, strangely peaceful, but mostly enjoying the chance for a quick getaway. That trip altered everything. I can't explain it very well. All I can say is that suddenly, we knew that this was where God wanted us to go. We don't know exactly what he has for us, but there was an unexpected peace about such an unexpected decision and destination. And it definitely wasn't for personal preference or financial reasons. We were comfortable and happy where we were. In the last few months, we have flown to Texas twice, sold a house, bought a house, changed jobs (for Brett), changed churches, traveled 1100 miles and said good-bye to the places and people we loved the most. That decision was not without sacrifice and pain. I've told many people that there has definitely been pain--but also unmistakeable peace.
Once the initial change had occurred, the boxes were unpacked, and our loved ones had returned to their homes across the country--that's when the Lord could really start to work on us. When change occurs, one of our first instincts is to buck the change and pine for days gone by. King Solomon warned against this kind of thinking.
Ecclesiastes 7:10----Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.
It's not wrong to reminisce. However, it is wrong to spend my time dissatisfied with the present because I am desiring something that I do not have. I cannot follow God's will and be content in every state, when I am constantly wishing things could "be the way they used to be." I have to give this up. Esther, Joseph, and Daniel are wonderful examples of people who were forcefully thrown into change that was against their own will--however, they yielded to the situation and their peace and contentment created reverberating positive effects on the lives around them. Trying not to cling to the past is no easy task. I miss spontaneous playdates for my girls with their cousins. I miss the fellowship and friendships in our church. I miss even just going to familiar places. I miss my best friend. I miss feeling like I knew my place and I knew my routine. I miss not feeling alone. We miss the familiar things because they are known to us--change threatens us with the unknown, which is where faith is needed and tested.
I don’t have the answer to completely conquering this yet. The Lord is still teaching me. What I have learned is that there is a mourning process with any change. The old is put to rest and a new reality begins, like when the first child is born/or when the last leaves, or when there is a loss, etc. And sometimes we go through the stages of grief with a change. Perhaps we hit the stages in a different order but there's still denial, anger (irritability, unsettled), bargaining (with God), depression (discouragement), and acceptance. I always think of Peter when I think of the stages of accepting change. He had to change his views so many times to match Christ's message. It’s no wonder he denied Christ, was angry, depressed--and then finally wholly accepted the Truth. He didn’t stay angry or depressed because he yielded to Christ’s way even though it wasn’t what he was used to. I sometimes wonder about his wife (if she was alive at this point)--Her husband started out as a Jewish fisherman and ended up a Christian missionary. She had to adapt to quite a bit of change. The key is to follow his example and not stay in the stages of depression or anger when change comes.
When change comes (and it will), praise God in it and thank Him for guiding us and comforting us through it. And pray to Him through those stages of grief as you put the old to rest and take up the new path before you. The Lord has been good to us here, too. We have enjoyed more time to strengthen our family and marriage. When you only have each other and the Lord, nothing else can distract you from those relationships. You cling to them because they are all you have. Gaining that spiritual and physical closeness is invaluable.
And most of all, I'm learning that I need to surrender--because the root of most fear is the fact that we are not in control, but praise God I can trust and depend upon the One who is.
Fear is not a bad thing--when it is godly fear. Fear of God preserves us. Ungodly fear prevents us--prevents us from doing God’s will and living free of those weights.