The word alone, at times, is enough to make me shudder!
Change and I have had an interesting hot and cold relationship. There’s the part of me that knows nothing stays the same, that everything is moving and adjusting from day to day. My son is a fantastic testament to this, he is five months old, going on the rest of his life. But there is also the part, I’m sure I’m not alone in this, that craves the security of the known and the familiar.
I have found myself in two opposing camps around change throughout my life. When I was younger, in my teenage passion, I saw change as a critical factor for growth. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone into the new and unknown was important. That change, in itself, stops a person from becoming stagnant, sedentary and bogged down in their unmovable ways. For me, self-propelled change created freedom, a sense of untouchability, to the point that I felt in total control of my life. I could make the ultimate and final choice in the direction I was headed. If an area of my life wasn’t working well, then I had the power to change – to fix it!
Somewhere along the way this idealised version of what change meant to me did the unthinkable: it changed. Change became threatening, out of control and chaotic. Change hurt like a broken heart. Working with young people who have changes crash into their lives uncharted and unwanted, further concreted my thoughts around change. It made life unpredictable, messy and painful. It was overwhelming, overbearing, and enough to drown in.
When everyone around me (or at least it seemed like everyone) was heading to the next newer, better, bigger version of things I found myself thinking; Why can’t it all just stay how it is? What If we are excelling right where we are now? Why do we have to keep trying to push forward? Don’t get me wrong I’m not against progress, but did it have to happen all at once? And was I the only one who was cautious of the consequences?
Was there any greater benefit in pushing ahead and putting the past in storage? What of the preciousness and importance in the past? Of our memories and relationships? Of our loved ones who have died? Are they all of no consequence or meaning in the present? Where does that leave us if we just forget the impact and value of lessons learned and taught?
I found myself wondering about God’s feelings when it came to change?
Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.
“I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done.”
“Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn.”
So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
The Bible says much about change, growth and transformation that tells us not to dwell on the past, yet also has texts around remembering the past to gain stability and deep roots in God’s permanency. So where does that leave us?
God gave us the ability to remember and to access the past. But sometimes we can be so consumed with the past that we miss the opportunities and adventures that lay before us. We miss the chance to learn more about who we are and to become a more defined version of ourselves.
The more I thought it over, the more the realisation became clearer. It’s not so much about the change itself; it’s not whether it crashes into our world or comes calmly. It’s not even about my choice or lack of control. What It boiled down to was the perception I have for change.
Is it fear or trust driven? Am I worried for my capacity to tackle change or what the change will mean to the comfort of my life? Am I trusting God in the change, knowing He is with me through it all, no matter what the change will bring?
The past highlights God’s presence in our lives. We can see more of Him in the past than right now because, sometimes, in the now, we are looking the wrong way.
We know what Jesus did in the past; Setting a marker to help the world know who God was and we also know that He is always going to be with us!
It is through remembering what God has done that gives us hope and trust for the present and future, no matter what changes it may hold.