No one likes change, yet it’s inevitable. Like time, change waits for no one and as Carey Nieuwhof puts it, it doesn’t ask permission either. The only thing unchanging in this life is God. As we age, adapting to change becomes more of a struggle. But it doesn’t have to be so complicated.
Change happens slowly or suddenly, but either way we have choices. When we get knocked down, it takes a moment to rebound. In that split second, we choose: stay down or rise up. The same thing occurs with change. Many choose to stay down or at least stay stuck where they’re comfortable. But comfort is deceiving.
Don’t get me wrong, after a long day, tough season of life or even a workout, I’m all about the comfort. We deserve it, right? Not necessarily.
Remember what Jesus said our lives would be like if we followed him? Persecution and even death could be the result of following Jesus. In fact, He tells us change and hardship should be expected.
As Christians, we aren’t called for comfort. We are called to run our race, move forward, and share God’s message with the world. Joy, purpose, and meaning are often found along the way. But so are difficulties, struggle, and change.
It seems change likes to show up when just as we’re finding our groove. Settling in, getting comfortable, then life shifts. Instead of coasting, suddenly an ugly, uphill climb appears out of nowhere. It’s a new normal with no warning. That’s not fun or easy. But we weren’t promised easy, we were promised presence.
Other times, we miss the signs of coming change. Head down, working hard on what we should be doing, we soon find ourselves on a slow slide toward comfy complacency. What used to be automatic, now requires extra effort or unknown skills. Move aside dull old ways. The shiny new ways have arrived. Our choice is either adapt or get passed by, sometimes literally.
As Christians, we are called to run our race, but we don’t expect or always enjoy the bumpy ride. This race is not predictably flat, but full of peaks, valleys, and hairpin turns. But we press on as Paul reminds us because constant in it all is our Savior. And at the end of the race, we receive the prize of eternal comfort and life with the One who never changes.
The Change Process
So how do we adapt to change as we run our race called life? First, we must be open to it. It’s a process more than one step, at least it has been for me. This progression usually encompasses our soul, mind and body.
The Soul Stirring: It often begins with a sense things are changing. Life is becoming easy, tired, or comfortable and we look for what’s next. I’ve felt this in the past and jumped wholeheartedly into what was new, sometimes without proper assessment of the consequences. Now when I sense this soul stirring, it’s a road sign announcing change. It gives me a few beats to prepare and be aware.
The Mindset Shift: This next step is where some get stuck. When the road signs (soul stirrings) are missed or change is unforeseen, sometimes we want to dig in. Spin those wheels until fully stuck. Now, instead of making a simple turn, it’s a whole thing involving tow trucks and winches.
Over time, I’ve come to embrace the mindset shift. It’s usually less dramatic. Once we sense that stirring and see the change signs, it’s time to mentally move to what’s next. This step can be emotional, tricky, and downright unwanted. This is why many get stuck here. But when we embrace the shift, the next step is much smoother.
The Purposeful Change: Quit the job, learn the new skill, do the hard work, or simply start living a new normal. These actions are less challenging when we sense their arrival and shift our mindset first. Then change is simply follow-through. We sense, plan, and now implement the change. We run the race, hairpin turns, uphill climbs and all. Many find this the hardest step, but when we do the prep work in our soul and mind, the physical change can be taken in stride.
Change is not easy. But it is doable because of the promise of God’s presence. We were never asked to run alone. God wants to be an integral part of our race. In Him, we find the strength, endurance and peace to run well-even into the changing unknown.
Maybe like me you’ve seen your share of change lately and are tempted to dig in. You long to stay in your comfort zone, lament your plight, or lick your wounds. But staying stuck doesn’t change the race in front of us.
With age comes hindsight. In my rear view mirror I see change has often been a blessing. I usually didn’t relish it in the moment, but it has led to transformations not possible in the comfortable status quo.
So how will you run your race and adapt to its inevitable changes?
Rather than fight, let’s sense our stirrings, switch our mindset, and act with purpose as we move forward. Life will always involve change. How we choose to respond determines how much we accomplish and enjoy our races. Let’s not simply run, but endure and thrive, trusting in God’s presence through it all.
Happy to link words with #HeartEncouragement at Crystal’s site.