Change: Can't [don't] Live Without It!
I’ve always hated change. Control and comfort, now that’s my thing. But wow, resisting change has not served me well. Slowly, after avoiding it for so many years, I can see how fragile I am now when it comes. The winds of unpredictability knock me off balance and exhaust me. Never did I see the day coming when I would say, “Please God, I need some change down here!” And yet, that has been my declaration for the last two years.
I have figured something out: Change is necessary for my growth.
I was terrified to go to camp when I was a kid. I never went. Even when I imagined it, to see if I could muster the confidence to go, I ended up in knots. Unlike most kids who ventured out of their comfort zones, I stayed cozy in my house. It took college to kick me into the vortex of change. Though embarrassing to admit, if I didn't call up the hidden, brave Dawn, I would still be living in my room. And subsequently, I’d be the fodder for an interesting documentary. I recall my older brother watching the fear take over, saying,"Why don't you just go to Eastern College, you can live at home." It made me so mad. I wanted, in that moment, to explode into a whirlwind of smoke and fire, spinning into a warrior so tall and strong that the roof busted open and blew into a million pieces. And with a strong voice, I would roar, "I'm fearless! I LOVE change! Nothing scares me!" I wanted so much to believe I was more than a mouse shivering in the shadows.
But change was coming. Transition. The unfamiliar. In fall of 1990 my comfort zone was in the dust, 200 miles behind me. But I did it; with God's help, I flew the nest. Not surprisingly, college would become my new comfort zone. I wrapped my arms around it so tightly, making sure no one would snatch it away. But four years later, adulthood was cracking its whip down the road ahead of me. Like the devil whispering to me, “There’s darkness coming; get ready, scaredy-cat.”
Though actually a kindness, God was prying my fingers off the comfy places and spaces. Like an unchecked crawl space breeding mold and other toxic growth, my stale soul needed a clean up. This was a pattern, a lesson I could see clearly when looking back over years of living: new strength germinates in me at a faster clip when I am taken out, shaken up, and dumped somewhere new.
This past year, the winds of change blew in again. A strong wind. Interestingly, this time, I found myself longing for it to come. I wanted God to shake things up and reset me. So he did. My husband and I moved ten hours from our home in North Carolina to Pennsylvania. In a matter of a few weeks, a moving truck and a load of friends sat in our driveway packing up everything we own. The morning of our packing the dog went to the groomer and came back to nothing in the entire house. As fast as that, Scott and I were transported like cartoon characters on a paper airplane jetting down highway 81 to land on Patriot Lane in Downingtown, PA. This change was not forced upon us. We chose change; we chose to uproot everything and start fresh. It wasn’t easy, but we felt compelled; we needed it. God imparted the strength to do it. Though I grew up in Pennsylvania, I have been gone for over 20 years. When everything changes: your home, your church, your job, your community, your roads, your land, your commute, the culture, the weather, the distance between you and old friends...you exercise muscles that have not been used in a long time, if ever. Change is good. I have come to long for it, to welcome it. Transition is hard, but not permanent. Deep friends take time, but are everywhere. Being alone, wandering around, exploring new places, and accessing nature, is a gateway to peace.
Faith needs wind to fan the flame. How will we ever believe God is faithful if we live hunkered down, trusting in the comforts we’ve piled around us? His priority is to cultivate trust. Sturdy, robust trust. A trust that reflects to the world that God is competent, good, wise, and trustworthy. The more we lean into change, and even embrace it, the more at peace we will be.
My timeline has shown me I grip tightly to control. Maybe you do, too. Change loosens my grip. What am I missing because I am settling for my small world of personal comforts? The world is big and broad. God's beauty overflows into every corner of space and time. Why not see it from a different angle? Adjustment and transition build up endurance, longsuffering, empathy, and hope. Paying attention, looking desperately for God's faithfulness will result in gratitude over the most simple and silly things.
Where is God calling you out of your comfort zone? What change is he inviting you to lean into? What muscles have atrophied? What places of control have you gripped too tightly to? What fears have grown bigger? Ask God to move you slowly, with kindness, into some places and spaces you have never been. Ask him to accompany you into the unknown. He’ll give you the treasures hidden in secret places.