My good friend Laura recently asked me if I had trouble with change. I was a bit surprised by the question, and answered somewhat defensively, “Well, no. I don’t think so. No, change doesn’t really bother me.” Somehow, that seemingly simple question caused me some internal turmoil. So, I began thinking more deeply about her question and conjured memories in support of my response.
After I graduated from high school, I moved from New Jersey to California. Within a few days, I began working as a cook at an Italian restaurant in Long Beach. I made many new friends, since I only knew one person in the state before my move. In fact, I met my first husband at that restaurant. That change was smooth, exciting, fun; so, no, those changes were good—no problem.
The change a year later was also welcome, a high adventure in my life: a motorcycle trip around the country which ended early in Alaska, since that’s where we ran out of money! Those times were full of new people, new cultures, a totally different way of life than I’d experienced before. Those changes were welcomed with open arms.
Through the years, I moved many times (even if only within the same town), met new neighbors, became involved in each new community, worked new jobs and volunteered on new committees. It was an exhilarating life full of change.
Yet, even though I came up with examples supporting my denial that change troubled me, I knew something about Laura’s question was still unsettling….
So, I did what I’ve learned to do when feeling this way: I prayed and asked God to help me understand what was going on, why had her question gnawed at me. After I prayed, I allowed myself to remember other examples of changes in my life that brought trouble to my soul: divorce, my mother’s death, retirement.
It took me way too long—many years—to move past the despair of an unexpected, unwelcome divorce. However, out of that very negative change came the knowledge that God was with me throughout: leading me back to church, healing me, directing me towards a loving, devoted man.
My new husband’s loving example showed me that I needed to get in better touch with my parents. So, after 25 years of just an occasional letter sent to my parents, I began weekly calls to them and began visiting them (from Alaska to New Jersey) at least every year. Just a few short years later, my mother had surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm and died a week later from complications. I wasn’t prepared for her to die, but I was so very grateful to have had that closer connection in her last years.
I didn’t think I was ready to retire when I did, but my husband (who’s four years older) was ready for his retirement to begin. Since I was eligible to retire, I did, but it was very unsettling to me. However, in retrospect, the sixty-hour weeks required of elementary teachers were exhausting, and I came to realize it was a good decision to retire and move to Northern Idaho. And, I love working at the church on a part-time basis, meeting wonderful people and keeping me involved and my mind active.
God clearly had a plan all along, even through the tumultuous times!
Then I prayed again about Laura’s initial question: did I have trouble with change? I thought I recognized that the difference in the circumstances was my choice in the change. So then my answer to Laura’s question was different: Yes, I have trouble with changes that I view as unexpected, ones that seemed thrust upon me. And, No, I find changes that I initiate as exciting and welcome. Even that response, though, didn’t quite hit the nail on the head.
It has not really been ME who has caused any of these changes (“good” and “bad”)—God was in charge all along! It might just be a basic control issue on my part! Since I didn’t feel in control when unexpected changes occurred, I viewed them negatively. When the changes were anticipated, I thought the experience was positive. Now, I’ve begun praying for God’s peace to enter my soul and allow Him to guide me through whatever He has in store for the next steps of my life. Since I trust that God loves me and has a plan for me, my new prayer for accepting change has become:
Lord, help me to learn to accept ALL that You present to me and to fully trust that Your Will be done through it ALL. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Your friend in Christ,