I’ll admit. Change can be scary. Often times we see the cost of changing but not the cost of missed opportunity. However, thinking of the cost of missed opportunity is even scarier.
CELEBRATE: Savoring God’s faithfulness.
Many times we approach change rapidly without celebrating the good that was in the season we are transitioning out of. It’s not all bad. There is something God has taught us through that season, areas where we saw God at work. The first task of transition is celebration.
I love how Jesus first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding. If there is anyone that knows how to celebrate life, it’s this guy! Savor the sweetness of what the fruit of your labor. Maybe you’re entering a season of transition in the following areas:
- Investment with your hands (work, volunteering, skills, etc.)
- Investment with your heart (friendships, relationships, etc.)
Take time to reflect on how you see God’s fingerprints over that season. It’s easy to when celebrating let pride sink in, but the goodness is not merely from our own strength. It’s God that breathes life into us and gives us all we have.
RELEASE: Remember the best is yet to come
Imagine if the farmer never harvested his crops, what would happen to the crops? Imagine if the winemaker never harvested the grapes, what would happen to the grapes? They would begin to rot. In the same way, there are areas of our life we aren’t harvesting so the new harvest can come. And so there are areas of our life that have just started to rot and become stinky simply because they haven’t been harvested; we haven’t released them.
I remember leaving my first real “job” of eight years at a non-profit that I helped start. I was terrified to leave; I thought I could never have a job that I enjoyed so much. I got to invest my life in so many young people and families, I traveled often, and I had much freedom to be creative. In many ways, people from the outside thought I had the best job ever and that I was living the “dream.” But there were may be things that were really unhealthy in that environment. I was being put in positions that compromised my emotional, physical, and spiritual health. I knew it was time for me to transition for a long time. The longer I stayed, the more people around me could smell things rotting in my life and heart.
It’s human nature to think that what we have is the best that God has for us. However, God cares more about our character than our comfort. We see our limitations; He sees our potential.
In Exodus 16, the Israelites had left captivity in Egypt about two month prior. They were wandering in the desert, remembering the predictability and comfort of life in slavery in Egypt. They became embittered and doubted God. They thought that God had led them into the wilderness to stave and die. So, God gave them provision through a flakey substance called manna each morning, but he wanted them to hold on with a loose grip. If they saved it until morning it would rot away. To God, it wasn’t so much about the food; it was about growing the Israelite’s trust in him. He wanted to grow Israel ‘s trust in him in preparation for the future that was ahead of them, entering the promise land.
My husband and I have some good family friends whose daughter loves snakes. Snakes go through a regular shedding of their skin. Their outer layer of skin needs to be removed so it does not prohibit growth. One way you can determine the health of snakes is in the way that they shed their skin. Healthy snakes shed all at once; unhealthy snakes’ skin flakes off little by little.
For snakes and for us it’s an uncomfortable, vulnerable process of shedding our skin -of letting go, but it’s necessary for growth. There are three responses we have to change:
- The Suffocating: For a lot of us, we resist. The life is being chocked out of us; we’re knowingly or unknowingly trapped in our old skin. We’re holding on tightly to that which is comfortable, safe, known.
- The Wavering: Many of us have old skin that flakes off in small pieces, but we’re still unhealthy; we’re still holding on. We “surrender,” but when things look scary or confusing we run back to that which we know. We knowingly or unknowingly put terms on God saying, “Okay, I am only going to trust until here….and then that’s it.” Or we try to excuse ourselves from responsibility by saying that we are just “waiting to hear God speak to us” but if we’re honest with ourselves, we already have – we’re just in denial.
- The Open-Handed: When we take personal responsibility, we realize change can’t happen until we stop making excuses for ourselves. When we are open-handed we trust God and give him complete authority to grow us without terms. We pay attention to that internal dialogue happening in our minds. We are honest about our fears and how God is speaking to us. In turn, we gain awareness about ourselves and are able to build our muscle of hearing that quiet voice of God speak to us.
Gratitude: Unleash the Power.
All around us, as humanity we build monuments to remember heroes, accomplishments, and growth. From remembering we find hope in the present and hope for the future. Throughout the Old Testament, the nation of Israel built stone monuments to remember accomplishments and how God had worked in their midst. As we move forward into change, it’s important to not suppress our fears but to listen and learn from our fears.
It’s been powerful for me in recent areas where I recognize change needs to happen to name my fears and then name one area of gratitude in that same area of fear. The work of God in our life story is a powerful tool for ourselves and for others. Remember, savor, share it with others, and move forward in boldness.
Based on this book: