“the act or instance of making or becoming different.”
If you’re anything like me, you say you like change—sometimes you even embrace it—but in truth, you’re pretty likely to avoid it. In fact, you secretly expend a lot of energy running from change.
I find this especially apparent as my family makes plans for the holiday season. I put on my big girl “c’est la vie” pants and say “I’m fine with whatever.” But in truth, I do all I can to recreate the holiday season of past. I seek to ensure everyone I’ve always celebrated with is present and moreover, is as excited to continue our traditions—even the ones like leaving cookies for Santa—as I am. The idea of our precious holiday season evolving into something new terrifies me.
This year, I think God was nudging at me to examine this tendency and the underlying issue here. I became anxious with each changing plan, until I finally took a step back to consider why I was so bothered.
When it comes to change, what is it that I cling to and why am I fearful of witnessing it evolve? And perhaps the more challenging point, could I warmly welcome change into my life, rather than run from it?
I got one answer in a sermon. It was centered around the term “Lech-Lecha.” This Hebrew term is typically interpreted as “go” or “leave!” as it was used in the story of Abram when he leaves his current life in pursuit of God’s will. The pastor, Matt Moberg, dug deeper into this term, uncovering how it is not just about the fact that change takes place when we leave one thing to do another. It is also about how this change forces us to see things in a new way. The action clears a space to reflect on things that hadn’t had a chance to be seen before.
The message helped me identify what I typically cling to: comfort, security, familiarity. The things that are known.
Once that was clear, I then questioned if I was willing to let go of some of each to make room for something new.
It’s a healthy reminder and incentivized me to go about my next few weeks with an awareness of this tendency. However, this was not quite comforting. In fact, it made me feel scared and tired, considering how much more of this emotional roller coaster I’d have to go through in the future.
Comfort did come—about a month later, and not in the way I would have expected.
I had gone to a networking panelist discussion entitled “Evolution” and had assumed this would be in regard to staying relevant in a career, staying on top of the latest trends. I hesitated to go, knowing the topic might make me feel drained, reminding me I’d always have to be evolving to keep up with this crazy world.
Instead, I left feeling incredibly hopeful. The panelists each told their career story, demonstrating how they’d gone through their own version of extreme changes, often after some major downfall. What struck me most was how they each concluded a similar message: though change didn’t feel good at the time, it lead to something better.
At one point during the event, I had a moment of clarity. I looked around the room and thought about just how much was changing, even as they spoke. I thought about how the big things in my life had changed over the last year and how grateful I was that they had. And then I thought about how even the smallest things were changing—my body, my hair, my needs, the leaves outside, the date on the calendar. All of it was inching along in a constant forward movement.
This realization felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders. If all of these things were moving forward, I didn’t want to be the one left behind.
This desire to join the forward momentum felt like freedom. I didn’t need to fight so hard to remain in my current position.
Later, I thought about the title of the event, “evolution.” Not change, for better or worse, but this:
“the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.”
How beautiful that is. If the world did evolve into what it is today, it transitioned from something simple into something more. If we, too, are part of this evolution, our minds and hearts may be transformed from simple to complex, from something good to something far better, from the unknown into the understood.
As I grow older, I hope to loosen my grip on the comforts of the old. Not to say I won’t treasure the traditions that do reoccur (like being elated to see the same people or to I watch Elf and Christmas Vacation for the fiftieth time). But instead of expending all my energy seeking what is the same, I will seek to be aware of where God made room for the new. If anything in this world is constant, it’s God’s desire to make things better.
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” — Matthew 16:25, NIV
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” — Romans 12:2, NLT
“The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Socrates