When we reflect on our lives, many of us clearly see some of the changes we’ve experienced. Some changes surprised us and others we planned for.
I clearly remember the year 1999 and all the hype about going into the 21st century. I was almost convinced by all the messages that the world would blow up when the clock struck midnight. There were predictions coming to us at breakneck speed. It seemed anyone who had a voice of influence was telling us how to prepare for the end of the age as we knew it. A BIG change was coming!
But twenty years later, I guess we’ve learned that change isn’t always predictable.
What I have learned is that change is constant. How we adapt can be the predictor of how well we live in the reality of change.
Five years ago, I thought I was conditioned to make any change that would come my way. After all, I have experienced many changes – getting married, children, geographical moves, the death of a child, death of a dream, and success in business that demanded changes on a daily basis.
But in December of 2013, I was about to face a change I wasn’t prepared for. We moved from our very secure and predictable surroundings in Pennsylvania and headed south to Texas after 27 years of living in Lancaster County, a place of traditions and family only minutes away.
What I loved about living in Pennsylvania were my predictable surroundings. I was comfortable there and thought we would retire in our community with friends and family. Being with family and familiar friends was deeply rooted in my heart.
Our decision to move was based on many factors and deep soul searching.
We questioned whether or not it was really time to move away from all that was dear to us. We knew the decision to move would mean MANY changes and I thought we were equipped. Turns out, we weren’t.
Change is unpredictable and often involves walking into a situation we’re not completely comfortable with.
I discovered that I was comfortable making material changes but I was not comfortable or prepared for the emotional response this change was about to bring.
I don’t do well saying “goodbye.” It’s not so hard to say, “I’ll see you later,” because it feels more temporary. Saying goodbye always feels permanent to me and puts an ache in my heart.
I won’t describe in great detail the emotional tsunami I experienced as I said goodbye to my daughter and grandkids.
Before our move, I lived a couple minutes from them and saw them almost every day. As we said our goodbyes in their kitchen I suddenly realized this is permanent. (They were also moving to a different state.) My stomach began to hurt and my heart ached as if it would break. To leave them was like nothing I had experienced.
We got in the car to drive to Texas and for the first few hours, I sobbed as if someone had died. I was NOT prepared for my response to this change. Little did I know I would experience sadness in a way that was uncomfortable to me.
This change was about to “change me” from the inside out. It started to bring out my strengths and weaknesses.
My strength was believing “I can do ALL things.”
My weakness was realizing “I can’t do ALL things.”
Staring at the truth of ALL things put me into a place of insecurity and sadness that nearly isolated me. My emotional state was embarrassing to me because I couldn’t do “all things” even though I believed and felt like I should be able to.
I also learned that to get through the changes I needed to allow Jonas to sit with me and listen as I sorted through it all. I also had a very good friend who was kind enough to hear me out each time we got together. I discovered I needed more professional help as some of my past crept into my present reality.
This change showed me I couldn’t do “all things.”
I accepted my weaknesses and confessed them to God and Jonas. I knew I could get through this if I was transparent about what I was feeling. I determined I would not pretend everything was ok when it clearly was not.
Being transparent with Jonas and a few close friends was a healthy way to walk through this change.
After about two years I began to understand this change was necessary for me. It created a dependence on God which caused me to spend lots of time reflecting and meditating.
I became comfortable in my new surroundings and best of all I became satisfied with who I was becoming in this process. How we respond to change is a predictor of personal, relational, and spiritual growth.
I learned that change is constant which means the lessons we can learn are never completely conquered. With each change, we learn more about ourselves and more about the God who loves and cares for us.
If you’re going through a tough change right now remember one thing – time and God are your friends.
Time will help you process your experience and God will give you strength to learn from your experience.
Change is not always comfortable but it is constant and it will always “change” you.
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