Change isn’t something we usually go chasing after. Unless you’re my sister, and you like to make international moves every few years. For the rest of us, change is the part of life we tolerate, and, for many of us, even fear.
But change is life. Whether it’s letting go, saying yes, or simply watching the beauty of autumn unfold, change is all around us. If we’re going to make the most of this life we’ve got, we may as well figure out how to make change our friend.
I know, that sounds well and good… until you actually have to do it. I hear you. In the past month, we’ve changed cars, changed schools, and tightened our budget. I’ve shifted from my first book project to the completely new and unrelated realm of my second one. These changes are disorienting, take a lot of mental energy, and make me miss the autopilot life of a month ago.
But there are a few truths that make change easier—whether it’s big or small—today.
Driving my middle schooler’s carpool reminded me of this one yesterday. As I picked up the third set of kids for the day, I heard the usual “what did you do in class?” “who did you eat with?” and then, another one: “so, do you have armpit hair yet?” When I overheard that, about 20 emotions surged inside, ranging from “This is awkward! I feel like I’m in a private conversation!” to “This is such a precious tween moment, and I get to be here for it!”
And then, I settled on one: this is the epitome of normal change. It’s totally normal for them to experience this. It’s normal to talk about it. And it’s probably even normal that I wasn’t ready for it in any way!
The “change is normal” truth gives us benefits: 1) we can know we’re not alone, 2) because of that, we have hope to find others who’ve experienced similar challenges and issues, and 3) we can stop spending precious energy fighting the fact that the change exists, and move on to making the most of it.
See conversation above. Or recall what it looked like the first time you rode a bike. Or picture your ninth grade school photo. Change is just plain awkward. Letting ourselves have permission to go through the awkwardness without judging or talking down to ourselves is key to squeezing every last ounce of benefit out of a change.
The thing about the awkward is that we want to get through it as fast as possible. If we’re even able to let ourselves exist in the in-between of a change, we’re likely thinking, “Please, God, make it quick!” Which brings us to the third truth…
It always takes longer than you want.
Always. It takes longer than you expected. Longer than you think you can endure. Longer than you feel like you have time or resources to deal with it. Change is a divine and time-consuming tool God uses to take the amazing raw material that is you, and fashion it into the masterpiece he’s always seen in there. It took Michelangelo about 1100 days to change a hunk of marble into the statue of David.* It’s taken 20 years to change my insecurity over being a writer into the completion of my first book. It will take however long it needs to to create what God’s working on in you and me today.
Change is not in the business of making our lives simple, it’s here to make them great.
What changes are you facing right now? How might you see them differently…. and rest in them a little more?
*”David (Michelangelo).” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_(Michelangelo)