A few days ago we took our Christmas tree to the trash pick-up on the curb outside our apartment. It was time. All the needles were falling onto the floor and it was beginning to smell more like swine than pine. Like that tree, 2015 has come and gone. And with the clearing out of the old there is room for the new. The incomparable Taylor Swift said, “This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”
I had no idea how true that quote was until last year when “change” became my thing. I am a girl who enjoys change as much as this kid enjoys the snow.
But when change comes and you cannot control it, you either embrace the new or you struggle to make the new fit into an outdated mold.
At the beginning of 2015, I worked as Collections Manager at Museum of the Bible and lived in Oklahoma City with my husband Michael. He was serving on staff at the church where we met at age seven. It was all either of us ever dreamed of having. Today, one year later, we both work at new jobs for Museum of the Bible while living in a New York City high-rise with no weekly church duties. We are surrounded by new people, a new church community, and new daily routines. Everything has changed.
Change is hard.
I know people who thrive in change. I know others who struggle with the smallest change. Change causes discomfort as we get outside of the known and beyond the routine. The beauty in the difficulty of change is that it can cause us to grow, to move forward, and to learn something new.
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. – H. P. Lovecraft
Here are three things I learned in what I’ve dubbed “The Year of Change”:
Change Takes Courage
Fear is inherent anytime we consider significant change. When we are fearing the fear of change, though, we can confront it with the hope of the result we are striving toward. This hope for the future can give us the courage to change today. Take fear for what it is: Our routine hoping to remain untouched.
We all know the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. While a computer with dial-up internet might not be “broke” that does not mean it is operating at its highest capacity. We often settle for ordinary or what we know because it is comfortable. While change for the sake of change is not always healthy, change does give us the opportunity to grow.
Our Change Affects Others
One of the hardest parts about change is the way our personal change can affect others. Personal autonomy is so widely celebrated we often forget the reality that everything we do affects other people. This includes changes that comes into our lives.
When I moved away from home, this did not just affect my ability to see my friends, they can no longer see me. Leaving my church meant my voice is no longer present in our Bible studies there. Change is difficult because it not only costs me, but it often costs the people I love. This realization should cause us to communicate well with those we love, in order to help them move through our change with us. Being sensitive and reassuring to those affected by my change will go a long way in the relationship.
For more thoughts on this point, I enjoyed this perspective by Donald Miller on how our changes or growth can affect others.
Change Is Worth It
Despite all the pain it causes us and others, change is worth it. Truly, it is inevitable. Whether or not we try to change, we will change. If any of us consider ourselves leaders, then it is especially important for us to learn to embrace change not just for ourselves, but for the benefit of those we are leading.
If we are a believers in Jesus Christ, we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him. So change is good because God is working it out for our good! Even in tragic, unexpected, ugly change, God can use it for his purposes. Be encouraged. Change is worth it!
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. -Winston Churchill
With all of this change, I have found comfort in two things that I know will never change: the Bible, and the God of the Bible. As J.I. Packer said in his book Knowing God: (p. 78)
“The words of human beings are unstable. But not so the words of God. They stand forever, as abidingly valid expressions of his mind and thought… Isaiah writes, ‘All flesh is grass… The grass withers… But the word of our God will stand forever’. (Isaiah 40:6-8 RSV)”
I would love to hear from you. How do you handle change? What material have you found helpful?