The Pain of Change

Image by apesara via Flickr I'm one of those oddballs who likes change. I like to rearrange furniture, repaint walls, try new hairstyle...

Change, we fear it....Image by apesara via Flickr

I'm one of those oddballs who likes change. I like to rearrange furniture, repaint walls, try new hairstyles and switch my wardrobe around. I even like to move! (No, I do not want to come help you pack.)
But for some people even small changes are excruciating, and I'm finding that I have my limits as well. In the last five months my only daughter turned 18, graduated from high school, and is getting married in three days. My oldest son got his driver's license. My second son turned 15 and got his driver's permit. And my 11-year-old proudly announced his need for deodorant and notified the household of the arrival of a long-awaited armpit hair. Lots of changes.
Why do we resist change? Because it hurts.
The status quo, no matter how uncomfortable, is always easier than changing behaviors and attitudes. It's easier, for example, to continue eating junk food and skipping exercise, even though you despise the extra 20 or 30 pounds of flab you're packing around. It's easier to continue using the credit card for purchases you really don't need and battle anxiety attacks when the bill comes due than it is to tell yourself "no" and commit to a get-out-of-debt plan. It's easier to whine about your kids' bad behavior than it is to expend the energy to discipline them. It's easier to moan and groan about a lousy relationship than it is to do something to reconcile the situation.
Human nature always tends toward the path of least resistance. Change, whether good or bad, brings resistance, and resistance is a source of pain, or stress, on the body and mind.
Think of resistance as a fork in the road of life. What you choose to do with the pain of change determines where you will end up tomorrow, next week, next year, or a decade from now.
Choose to let pain overwhelm you with sorrow for time lost and relationships stolen, and you will become bitter and filled with regret. What a waste!
Or, choose to embrace the pain of change. Let it restructure and reshape you the way weights sculpt your muscles. I know, that sounds crazy, especially if you're facing some horribly difficult situation, like a divorce or a death, or serious illness. But to survive and thrive in life, we must learn to accept change and be proactive instead of reactive.
My Bible reading schedule for today put me in 2 Kings 7. It's a story that never fails to inspire me to get up and DO something! The Bible is always best read with your imagination engaged, so shift into imagination mode and picture the following scene...

The city was under siege. The enemy had cut off all supply lines. The markets were empty. The cisterns were dry. Inflation had reached an all-time high. The situation looked hopeless to everyone, even the king.
Sitting just outside the city gates were four men, victims of leprosy. They were outcasts -- unable to work, rejected by their society and doomed to a miserable, lonely existence.
I can almost see the cartoon light bulb go off over their heads just prior to the third verse.
"...They said to one another, 'Why stay here until we die? If we say, 'We'll go into the city'--the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let's go over into the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.'"

Ever been there? Where every option looks like certain death?
I love these guys. They had the guts to do SOMETHING, even if it seemed completely crazy.
The four men got up at dusk (presumably hoping the low light would prevent the Arameans from noticing their diseased condition) and headed for the enemy's camp. To their surprise, the place was deserted. The Arameans had fled in terror when God made them hear the sound of a great army coming their way. Was God just waiting for someone to make a move, to step out and do something?
The lepers had a party. They ate and drank their fill and hauled off gold and silver and clothes for themselves. Satiated, their consciences pricked them, and they returned to the besieged city and shared the good news. The announcement created a stampede to outdo any Christmas clearance rush at Wal-Mart!
Here's your question. Take that painful change you're facing right now and ask yourself, "Why am I just sitting here? What are my options? What can I do?" Become proactive. Resist the temptation to take the easy way out by doing nothing. Instead, step out in faith and do something. Even little things that seem insignificant can have a tremendous impact on your future!
For myself, I can resist my children's growth and development by trying to hold them in the nest, tied tightly to my apron strings. But I will suffer misery, torment, and discomfort as they figure out ways to escape my grasp. I could sullenly sit back and pout, mourning the loss of my youth and making my children feel guilty for "abandoning" me to--gasp, how dare they?--live their own lives.
Or, I can view these changes not with dread, but with a sense of adventure. Every ending is a new beginning, an opportunity for growth and further sculpting of my soul and spirit into the person God created me to be. As a writer, I like this analogy: Every change opens a new chapter in the book of my life. And because God has all my days written in His book, I can trust that it will be a well-written story, penned by the author of faith Himself, and that He has a happy ending planned for me, something better than I could ever dream. And He has a story written for you, too! Just like those lepers, He might just be waiting for someone to stand up and make a move toward victory, toward success, toward a dream.
Will you be the one who says, "Let's roll!"?
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  1. Great list of what to do and what not to do in the face of change, by Nancy M. Spicer


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