The day I was born wasn’t just a day. It was multiple days.
My poor sweet mother endured over 36 hours of labor, because I was so darn comfortable where I was, and I stubbornly refused to budge. The doctors ended up using these huge salad tongs to grab my chubby cheeks and “convince” me to venture out into the world. (I’m sure there’s a more medically-correct term I could be using other than ‘salad tong’… forceps maybe? Clearly my medical vocabulary has room for improvement.)
Why the gruesome story, you might ask?
Well, because I think it illustrates the fact that from a very early age,
I’ve never been a huge fan of change.
I get comfortable where I’m at. Even if there’s a 99% chance that there is positive change on the horizon, I get all wistful as I look backwards on what I’m leaving behind.
Although I’ve grown in this area, I have a whole lot more room for growth in embracing change.
Change is so very complicated and takes so many forms. Change is jumping into the unknown. Change is improvement. Change is opportunity. Change is loss. Change is adventure. Change is tragic. Change is hopeful. Change is strange.
How can one word mean so many different things in so many different circumstances?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve experienced a wide spectrum of ‘changes’.
A few examples…
I graduated college. Change. I began my first post-college/big-girl job. Big change. I made new friends. Happy change. I lost touch with other friends. Not-so-happy change. I got married. Incredible change. I moved away from my family. Bittersweet change.I can easily list out all kinds of changes I’ve experienced, all across the spectrum, and I’m sure you can too. Maybe you’re even going through a crazy season of change as you read this!
To live is to experience change. We can’t choose whether or not change will happen, but we can choose how we respond to it. I wanted to share some scripture I’ve found to be an encouragement and a challenge to my heart as I face a season of change.
Hebrews 13:8- “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Why do I so easily skim over this statement without letting that sink in? This is HUGE. In this life- nothing is certain except for uncertainty. My parents used to say that “The only things that are guaranteed in life are death and taxes.” It’s a funny cliché, and they would say it with a chuckle, but there’s still some sobering truth there. I’d also add ‘change’ to that list. After all, change is also guaranteed. Meanwhile, even in a whirlwind of changes, Jesus never changes. How encouraging is THAT!? Change brings the unknown. The unknown brings out our fears, but Jesus’ perfect love casts out our fears. His grace doesn’t quit. He will love you forever, and he won’t ever change his mind.
2 Cor. 12:9- “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Wait, weakness? Isn’t that a bad thing? Our culture glorifies strength and perfection. I mean come on- we just watched the top athletes in the world compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics, and not a single one of them won a medal for being wimpy! This verse turns our cultural understanding of weakness upside-down. When he wrote this verse, Paul was walking a difficult road. He experienced a painful change in his life, and was begging God to take away his struggle. God said ‘no’. Yet, Paul didn’t curse God when the answer to his prayer was ‘no’. It’s amazing to me that we are still reading his words a couple thousand years later, and praising God for demonstrating His grace and power through Paul’s life. In this world we will have trouble, but our God has overcome this world. As Paul also said- “…this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). Change can be an affliction, but that affliction isn’t meaningless. There is so much more beyond the pain. Brace yourself- we’re going back to the gruesome analogy from earlier: My mom experienced great pain when she gave birth to me. Why didn’t she just give up? After all, 36 hours of labor is right up there near the top of the list of ‘most physically painful human experiences’. She endured, because she knew that her suffering wasn’t meaningless. There was a little bundle of joy (a.k.a. ME) on the other side of that pain. (Today, she assures me that the struggle was “worth it” even though I’m “a total punk”. Love you too, Mom.) Similarly, we are challenged by this verse to endure affliction and difficulty because God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Pain isn’t the end. He promised to work ALL things for good for those who love him, and he promised that His grace is sufficient.
Psalm 1:3- “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
As someone who moved over 8 times growing up, I didn’t feel very much like a tree planted by streams of water. After all, I didn’t stay anywhere long enough to plant deep roots! I wonder what King David was thinking about when he wrote this verse. After all, he had already experienced so many travels, so much change, many adventures and even much heartbreak. I don’t think that ‘planting yourself by streams of water’ means that we all should buy lake-houses tomorrow and live there permanently. (Although…actually that sounds pretty legit. Anyone want to fund a lake-house for me? 😉 hehe) However, I do think that this verse suggests that trees are meant to produce fruit, and trees need to have access to water in order to product fruit. So lets say that the “tree” is you. And your “fruit” is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. And that “fruit” comes from intentionally placing yourself near the “water” of scripture, prayer, and community with other believers. Changes in ‘seasons’ will make this a challenge, but change will not stop you from choosing to face that challenge with boldness. Because even if you move across the globe, there is no place you can go where God isn’t already there. Even if a relationship fails and you feel abandoned, there is nothing that can change God’s mind about loving you. Healthy trees sure can take a beating; we had a hail-storm here not long ago that knocked entire branches off the trees by our home! But those trees soaked up the water and survived. They’re even taller now than they were months ago.
I want to challenge myself, and whoever reads this, to take notes from the tree. If we plant ourselves near the “water” of truth, prayer, and community, we will not wither away.
Change is real, and change is happening. I can try to resist it as much as I want, but sooner or later, the “salad tongs” of change will pull me into a new phase whether I choose it willingly or not!
So, when you face a season of change, how do you respond? Are there certain scriptures or bible verses that encourage you when change is difficult?
Send me a message, leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for reading! 🙂