“I hate change!” The older I get the more I hear people make that statement. I have to admit, I too have made the same statement a time or two. As a creature of habit I totally get it. We’ve all got our little quirks…our little habits we don’t want to change. For years, Monday through Friday I got up at the same time for work. I caught the same train; sat in the same car; sat in the same seat, and spoke to the same people. And don’t let some “new guy” sit in “my” seat. It puts me in a foul mood the whole train ride. And above all please don’t let them mess up on my Grande, vanilla, non-fat cappuccino. If it’s not right I might as well go back home and back to bed. It could totally ruin my day.
Even when our heart is in the right place, it doesn’t take much to get our feathers ruffled. Just to be considerate I always hold the door open for the person walking behind me. If that person doesn’t say “thank you” I tend to turn to them and say, “Oh you’re welcome” in a sarcastic tone. Just to let them know how rude I think they really are. Even in church we get riled up when an unexpected change has been made. Some of us have gone to the same church for years. Every Sunday we park in the same spot; we sit on the same side of the church, and sit in the same pew. But if a guest sits in “our” spot! What?? That whole hospitality thing goes right out the window.
All these little habits or quirks keep us feeling safe, peaceful, and secure in our comfort zones no matter what they are. And the thought of something or someone interrupting our peace makes us very uncomfortable. For some of us it’s too scary to even think about.
Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with any of these habits. But we have to learn to be flexible. You never know what good the change can bring. Maybe that person sitting in our spot is a person who will change our lives somehow. Maybe she’s a connection to a new and better job. Maybe he’s the love of your life.
Sometimes life forces us to change so we can grow. And what happens when not wanting to change prevents us from growing into the person we were meant to be? We can become stagnant and maybe even a little resentful because we know deep down there was something better for us then the life we are living.
No matter how old or young we are, there are things in our life that will change whether we like it or not. Changes can be small; something we just take in stride. Or it can be massive; something that is life changing. Changes can be joyful or painful. They can be planned; like a decision to get married. Or changes can come out of nowhere; like the sudden loss of a job or a loved one.
Whether expected or not, some changes are not so bad. You got that promotion you weren’t expecting? Your child got a full scholarship to the college of his or her choice? The doctor gave you a clean bill of health and has taken you off the blood pressure medicine?
And then there are changes that bring you to your knees. You lose your job with one kid in college and the other in private school. Your marriage ends in divorce and you’re left to raise two children on your own. The spouse you thought you had at least another 30 or 40 years with, suddenly dies.
And now suddenly everything changes. Now you are FORCED to change. And when you change one thing, it seems like you have to change everything. You’ve got to change your kids’ schools or find a new job; maybe even two, to help make ends meet. And the memories you had in the day-to-day experiences with your late spouse are now so painful that you can no longer stay where you are and you must move away.
So now you have two choices. You can lie down, curl up and be the victim saying, “Woe is me”. Or you can get up; dust yourself off; pull your shoulders back; hold your head up high and say, “OK. Next.” Don’t get me wrong the pain will still be there. You’ll want to curl up and hide from the world. Your comfort zone is all but gone. And sometimes there are so many changes at once; you won’t be able to catch your breath. But there comes a point where you have to either let yourself be defeated or you have to remember that you are a child of God. You were not brought to this Earth to be a victim or a doormat. Instead you are a conqueror; a victor not a victim.
I know that when I found myself overwhelmed with grief, anger, and fear after a sudden loss, I did want to stay in a corner; in the dark and mope. But I knew I couldn’t stay in that condition forever. The pain I felt was too overwhelming for me to stay where I was…mentally, emotionally, and physically. I had to make changes. Some thought I was running away. And maybe at first I was. But through prayer and guidance from professionals I knew I had to make positive changes in my life. Even if those changes meant getting out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t easy at all. But it needed to be done.
I moved out of the area I had lived practically my entire adult life to be closer to family so I wouldn’t be allowed to hibernate (which is my knee jerk reaction). I moved where the commute to the office would be shorter and more convenient. Instead of living in the middle of nowhere (which encourages my knee jerk reaction) I moved to a small town where I am forced to walk around and make conversation with some of my neighbors, even some who don’t seem to want to talk to me either. Not to mention making small talk with the owners at the little mom and pop shops all around me.
Don’t get me wrong I am still very nervous being out of my comfort zone. I’m now living in an area where I don’t know anyone. It’s not the suburban (or country) areas I’m used to. I’m living in a place not even half the size of where I used to live. I live alone which I don’t think I ever did. Even when my sons were away in school I had their rooms and things there, knowing they’d be home at the next school break. Every morning when I walk to the train station and get on the crowded train I never get the same seat. The train lets me off at a different area of the station, so now I have to get my cappuccino from another location, where they continue to spell my name incorrectly on the cup every morning no matter how many times I spell it for them. Since there’s no gym near my new home I had to join a gym near my office where everyone looks 20 years old and a size 0 instead of my old “judgment free zone” gym that gives away free pizza on Fridays. I’ve decided to join a few clubs so I can meet and talk to like-minded people. (Which is something I rarely ever want to do.) And even though I miss my comfort zone I know I needed to make changes in order to grow from the person sitting alone in the dark.
I have no idea what the Lord has in store for me and my future but, I know that one day I will look back and say this was the time I turned my life around. All our lives are subject to change. I knew I could either grow and learn from the change or fight it. But I only fight if I know I have a chance to win.