One of the things that we can count on in life is that there’s going to be change. From new siblings to going to school to hitting puberty to leaving home for college, life is change! And when you’re a military brat there’s even more change! PCSing, a parent’s deployment, parents being gone for trainings, ….. Sometimes change is good and exciting, sometimes it’s uncomfortable and even scary, and other times it just sucks. Let’s see what God has to say about preparing for these changes that we know are coming just down the road, so that it doesn’t throw us into feelings of instability.
Change sucks! It’s just – hard. Any good psychologist in the world would tell you that teens need consistency, stability, routine, and comfort! Okay maybe comfort is a stretch, but what about change is the least bit consistent, stable or routine? Our move from Council Bluffs, Iowa, population approximately 60k to Harlan, Iowa, population approx 5k back when I was in 4th grade had my 14 year old brother and me in utter disgust and disbelief! The first time we rolled into that “po-dunk, crappy little town” we refused to even get out of the car. It was “hickville” to the core! Turns out that little town was a football powerhouse; and Dan and I ate, drank, walked, talked, and slept football.
Seven years later, after seeing some significant playtime as a sophomore on a team that made it to the state finals, Mom and Dad told me the unthinkable again, “We’re moving.” How I despised those words. That year I had been inducted into the National Honor Society, had lettered in football and track, had a solid summer job, and a new “relationship” with the “woman of my dreams.” My life was all coming together, then – BLAM! To make matters worse, the move was actually only 70 miles away – to a school named Carroll that hadn’t seen a football play off game since the 1960’s. Angry doesn’t begin to describe the emotions I was feeling at this announcement. Staying behind and living out my final two years of high school with a buddy (whose family offered) was not an option; Dad made that abundantly clear – we stay together. I stomped around the house and pleaded my case for about two weeks. At that point, it was what it was, and there was no changing it. The inevitability of the thing somehow settled into my mind enough to cause me to stop thinking about how to stop it. Instead of pondering all that I was leaving behind, Carroll was coming, and if I was going to have any kind of future, I had to start leaning into it instead of fighting against it.
We can never really know, when looking forward, what lies ahead, and I think sometimes God must laugh when we declare our plans to hi;, but the benefit and the lesson of looking back always seem to make more sense after seeing how things actually turn out. In the midst of the change, all I can usually see is pain, discomfort, and the instability it creates. Seeing how every time the “change” shoe dropped, it actually worked out to my benefit, it got a lot easier to trust in a plan that was bigger than myself. At Carroll I stood out as an athlete and as a student more so than would ever have been the case at Harlan. The attention brought opportunities, scholarships, and ultimately the appointment to West Point. None of it was fun. All of it was tough. But all of it was good. I can say that now. Watching the guys I had grown up with in Harlan win state football titles, both Junior and Senior years, was really difficult – like salt in the wound! I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there is even now a small amount of resentment at not being able to experience that. But. I would not trade the opportunities that came to me at Carroll for the experience of the state football championship – twice at Harlan. God doesn’t just part the waters for us any more. In fact, I’m pretty sure he hasn’t done that again since Moses left Egypt, so the rest of us I guess just gotta swim! The inconvenient truth is, God never wants us to get to a comfortable place in life where we’re no longer relying on and trusting him. Sometimes I hate that. In the end I am left with two simple choices: roll with it and keep my eyes open for new opportunities or fight the changes and make my life miserable. God gives us a great opportunity to trust him with what we know is coming and rely on him to provide that certainty for us. Being in the military, this you can be sure of - one way or another, CHANGE is coming!
This Bible story is a great example of a family that went through some pretty drastic changes, and they had a lot of work to do to prepare for them. God told them what was coming. Leading up to these changes, Noah and his family trusted God even when it seemed so crazy and so unlikely to everyone else that these things were going to happen. But they listened to God and stayed obedient to him.
God, change is weird. It’s hard and uncomfortable and scary. Change is coming and I feel (express what you’re feeling here). Help me to stay obedient to you through this change. Please speak to me and help me to find peace and comfort in time with you. You know better than I do, and I trust you to work everything for my good even though it’s hard right now. Thank you for being constant, for never changing, and for always being with me. Thank you for being my refuge, the one I can always run do when I’m feeling unsafe and instable with everything around me changing. Thank you for your security. Amen.
Sometimes, when we know a change is coming, we get really anxious and start to feel confused, scared, and unsure. Set some time aside twice this week to go off to a quiet place where you won’t be bothered; pick one of the Scripture passages in the “Sscripture” section above, and slowly and quietly go through these five steps:
1. Begin your time alone with God with this prayer: Holy Father, as I approach your sacred word, open my heart, clear my mind, open my ears to listen to your voice, and give me the courage to accept your call. May your Holy Spirit inspire me and encourage me to proclaim the Gospel. I ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
2. Slowly read the Scripture passage aloud. In a journal or notebook, write a sentence that summarizes what you think it means. Begin with a statement such as, I think this passage means or I think God is saying.
3. Read the Scripture aloud a second time. This time, in your journal or notebook, note the sights, smells, tastes, touches, sounds or feelings that come to mind. These do not have to be complete sentences. You may also draw symbols or pictures if you’d like.
4. Read the Scripture a third time out loud. This time, write the word or phrase that leaps out at you in this passage as you read it a third time. Sit quietly for several minutes and repeat the word or phrase in your mind. Try to get rid of all othe thoughts and focus on your word or phrase; then write down what it means to you and how that meaning connects to your life.
5. End with a prayer, talking to God about the Scripture and thanking him for speaking to you.
Adapted from these sources. Check them out for additional ways to understand and experience this process (called Lectio Divina, and pronounced “lexio da-veena”):
Preparing for and dealing with life change is something that we all need to learn to do, because it’s unavoidable. It helps to understand how you handle change. Take this quiz to get an idea of how well you handle change.
Matthew 26:36-46 - Jesus is preparing to die for the sins of the world, the biggest change to ever happen. See how he prepares for this in these verses.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 - There’s a time and place for everything! In this passage we realize that there are lots of changes and emotions but God is in control.
Philippians 4:6-7 - These verses remind you not to be anxious about anything, to bring things to God in prayer, and to be thankful.
Isaiah 55:8-9 - Sometimes it’s hard to understand why things have to change, but we have to remember that God’s ways are higher than ours.
Romans 8:28 - Even when change is hard, this verse helps remind us that God works for our good.
Deuteronomy 1:29-33 - Just as God promised to go before the Israelites, he will go before you as you work through the change in your life.
Psalm 9:9-10 - As you’re facing change and everything seems new and different, know that God will never abandon you.
James 4:13-15 - When you’re going through change, know that God is in control; trust him; he knows what he’s doing.
You’re Noah? – Noah’s wife may have had this same kind of reaction when she found out God had spoken to her husband about a very unbelievable change that was about to come.
Opportunities – Here’s one way you can see change. How might God be using the change you’re facing as an opportunity?
Take a look at these high divers and listen to how they overcome their fears and uncertainties about something they know is coming – a very high dive that they have done before. Notice what keeps them calm and focused and moving through their natural feelings.
In this clip, divorced parents Luke and Jackie are talking to their kids about a big change that’s coming; their father is marrying his girlfriend. Notice the initial feelings and reactions the kids have to this news. Also, listen carefully to the advice Jackie gives about dealing with hard changes in life.
- After watching this clip, how do you think it shows some reactions someone might have to coming change?
- How can you relate to what Jackie and Luke’s kids are feeling and how they react?
- What are some ways that you can use the coming change in your life?
When change is coming you might feel like this dog who doesn’t want to get out of bed…