What Never Changes

    When I was a kid, every day was an adventure for my mom. Take for instance the day a neighbor called to say that she (the neighbor) knew my mom couldn’t have been the one to dress me that morning. Looking out the window, my mom quickly spotted me, my orange shirt and purple shorts announcing my presence to the world.
     Even now, as I recount this story, I realize my choice in clothing could have been a far greater fashion faux pas, but I must have been quite a sight. First, the neighbor thought my choice in clothing worthy of a phone call to my mom, and second, it was the late 1970’s. What could have been more bizarre than the ever popular bell-bottoms, wide collars and velvet?  Nonetheless, whatever I was wearing sent my mom on a mission to discover the fate of the clothing she had last seen me wearing. Heading to my room, she discovered not only the first outfit but at least two others I had tried on and ultimately discarded in a pile on the floor. 
     I have no idea what motivated the multiple wardrobe changes. I was only four. But it wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last time my mom would find more clothes in front of the dresser than in it. Free-spirited and somewhat impulsive, I loved change. Today, though, at forty-six years of age, I don’t move through outfits--or transitions--as seamlessly as I did so many years ago. 
     Change is hard. Even when eagerly planned for, long desired, or desperately needed. Not only does it typically demand an adjustment in our circumstances, but any change we experience tends to be multi-layered, and we often don’t know what each layer holds until we get there.  
     For me, this past year has held a multitude of changes, one of which is that I made the decision to leave the only full-time career I have known to date. It was a change I chose to make because I had felt the Holy Spirit directing me to leave, and I sensed the transition was His protection of me in this season. The work had been rewarding, but I had found myself becoming less and less of who I wanted to be, less and less of the person I felt called to be.
      Even though it was a change I desired, I knew that letting go of what I had known to reach for the unknown would bring some level of grief. I had been with many of my coworkers for several years, and we had shared much in our time together. I had loved the work we had done as a team, and I had learned a great deal about my field, and about working with people, through their influence in my life.  In preparing for this transition, I anticipated the change in everyday routines, the change in finances, and the change in relationships in terms of who I would and would not see in any given day.
     I counted down the days, packed my boxes, committed to keeping in touch. But nothing--not anticipating the differences, giving myself room to grieve or trying to ready myself for new places--could take away the depth of what I felt in the actual transition.     
    I felt as if everything had changed. One day I had been living life on a certain trajectory, and then--it was gone.
     We can do our best to prepare, and prepare we should, but when the moment of transition arrives, our only choice is to simply live it out. Change is moving from point A to point B, the movement from where we have been to a new place. We can clean out our offices, change our surroundings, look to new beginnings--but the distances from where we were to where we are going must still be traveled.
     Isaiah 26:7 declares, “For those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and You smooth out the path ahead of them.” The way of the Lord is always right, and He is faithful to smooth the path before us. But, sometimes God’s timing and methods differ from our expectations. Limited by our finite vision, we struggle to understand what He’s doing, especially when we try to speed over the places that are still in process. Sometimes the jolt causes pain. Confused and attempting to peer into the darkness, we try to regain our bearings. 
     Though it felt as if the ground beneath me had given way, I have learned to lean into the transition. In the hard places, I have learned to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly. And in the confusion, I have learned the force of faith in a God who loves me well.
     We long for God’s peace and rest—to see the end-result of what He is accomplishing. But we easily forget that dark valleys will come up along the way (Psalm 23:4). In these places we discover, as David did, that to “wait patiently” is to find deliverance (Psalm 40:1), and in this place of uncertainty, trust becomes essential. Whether the change comes from our choices or the choices of others, only He can create peace in the transition. Safety and security in the shifting isn’t about what we see, but the One we look to.
     True stability doesn’t come in collecting belongings, keeping the same people close, or staying in a job for years. While all of these things may seem to bring added security, in reality, they’re but a fragile thread we grip. At any moment, everything can shift.
    Fortunately, God is able to handle our questions when change comes, when it brings us to unexpected places. Far more than a comforting ideology, living in the shelter of God’s protection is an exercise in surrender. Some days, that reality is a little unsettling. But when I go back to God’s Word, I’m reminded that “He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:2).
     That’s a truth that will never change.


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