Change. The word excites some of us and terrifies others. Some embrace it; others loathe it. However, like it or not, change is evitable.
Admittedly, I’m a change-aholic. I can’t get enough of it. In fact, the only thing I don’t change much is what I eat. I’m a pepperoni pizza guy forever. And I do mean forever because I’m sure it’s God’s choice of pizza too. Steaming hot pepperoni pizza, without pineapple, is what I expect to find on the grand banqueting table of heaven.
I’ve thought about this a lot. Why do most people struggle so much with change? I’ve contemplated this because I honestly do want to understand the rest of the world (which includes my wife and most of my children).
One of the biggest reasons why you struggle with change is due to another “C” word: comfort. Some refuse to change because they’re comfortable. They’ve put most everything in their life into cruise mode or on autopilot.
When you need to change, but you refuse to change because it’s too much work or too hard, that’s unwise and bordering on laziness. Don’t misunderstand me; comfort is not a swear word. It’s okay to put your feet up and rest. Remember, last week I wrote about margin and the need for Sabbath rest (Turtles Are Not Mutant Ninjas).
So, I’m not suggesting being comfortable always equates to being lazy. However, change is often challenging, and I can’t ever think of a time in my life when I was both challenged and comfortable at the same time.
When my marriage needs to change and get healthier, that’s uncomfortable and takes work.
When I’m trying to lose weight and get in shape, it never starts out as fun (especially ‘cause I can’t eat unlimited amounts of pepperoni pizza).
When God calls me to a new level of faith and spiritual growth, it’s always challenging.
Yes, change is tough. Yes, it takes you out of your comfort zone. But godly and healthy change is good.
The desire for comfort is, in my opinion, our greatest foe in the battle with change. Second to that, however, is a four-letter word: fear.
Anxiety is yet another dragon we must contend with in our make-believe war against change. A thousand “what ifs” plague our mind to the point of crippling us with terror.
“What if I insist we get marriage counseling and my spouse quits?”
“What if I try to diet and I fail?”
“What if I say yes to God and it costs me everything?”
I understand. Not all stories have happy endings. I get it. Sometimes we embrace change, and things go sideways. I know. But unrealistic fears lead to unreasonable acceptance of things that must change.
It’s always better to face your fear. Admit it for what it is; a lack of faith in the goodness of God. Then embrace change as a friend rather than an enemy.
For the record, most change is meant to mold us.
I wish I could tell you all change, though hard, will make you happy eventually, but it may not. The commitment and promise from God is to perfect and mature us. The Apostle Paul was confident God “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Phil.1:6), but there’s never any promise of an easy life.
Here’s the thing, the dross and junk in most of us only get removed as the heat gets turned up in our lives. The parts of us not like Jesus tend to get removed through radical surgery, and not through a little liposuction here and there.
You and I get shaped, carved, and eventually molded into the image of Christ through change we’d rather not go through thank-you-very-much.
I get cancer, and I learn to eat better.
I get hurt, and I learn to love better.
I get surprised, and I learn to trust better.
I get mad, irritated, upset, and frustrated with family, friends, my spouse (or all of the above), and I learn to forgive.
The painful stuff is used by God to make me more like Jesus and a better me. As my friend, Dr. Jeff Kennedy says, “The you God builds in the storm is a better you.”
In other words, some things happen best in the dark storm, and often you and I grow more when all hell is breaking loose. Why? Because that’s where we discover that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the work of God in our lives.
Here’s the bad news/good news.
Bad news: Life is hard. Change is tough. You are a work in progress, and progress is often painful.
Good news: You’re not alone. Change is good for you even when it’s hard on you. And God is still working in you and through you for your good.
So don’t run from change. Embrace it. The end result is a far better you.