The New Will Come

 

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”                                                                          2 Corinthians 5:17

 

This verse is talking about how when we accept Christ as our Savior, God starts to renew us from the inside out. But these words take on a new meaning for me as I think know over the changes I‘ve faced these last couple of years.

Before that, I was quite happy to be nestled in familiar routines. My daily schedule, my meal plan, even the ministry I did at church reflected my desire to stay firmly planted in status quo. Change, as I shared before, was always unsettling, a negative experience. With a mindset like that, God didn’t have much room to work!

As I look back, I see a list of both expected and unplanned circumstances that came my way.

Physical, emotional and financial issues have hit, some in combination. And most of them were things I never would have asked to happen. Can you relate?

In a way, it would be understandable for me to feel overwhelmed, even angry – and believe me, I’ve gone that route a few times. But when I do that, my vision is narrow. What I mean is, I get so wrapped up in whether a change feels good that I don’t bother to ask if the change could ultimately be good for me. After all, one of God’s promises is that He works all things for good, right?

Okay – I can see that, for instance, in the case of my daughter graduating from high school and spreading her wings. It’s bittersweet for me, but definitely healthy and right for her life. But what about my RA diagnosis? How could that be considered a good change? Well in itself, it isn’t. RA can be challenging and painful – an unwelcome change. But when I think about all the adjustments I’ve made, like a healthier diet and more consistent exercise, I have to admit that positive, even beneficial things for my body are taking place because of having the disease.

It’s not easy for me to make such a big turn in my thoughts. But I’ve realized lately that hoping to live without being touched by any changes is very unrealistic. Even more importantly, I miss out on the new things that God wants to do In and through me. This year, my first major goal is to pray for my Heavenly Father to give me a heart that can let go of the old and look for the new He is bringing in. A tall order, but I think He’ll honor it.

NOTE: Just a quick FYI that I’ve decided to change my blogging schedule from every day to 3 times a week. Look for my newest posts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays now!

A Different Kind of Christmas

 

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As my husband and I shared a little time at the breakfast table this morning, I asked him for prayer. What began as a quick request turned into an emotional moment as I poured out some of what was stored up in my heart. I’m grateful he was willing to not only listen, but respond with grace.

My starting point was asking if he would be okay with me buying cookies for Christmas Eve this year instead of baking them. Boy, was that question hard for me to say out loud! Baking is one of my favorite ways to usher in the holiday season. But my joints just can’t handle stirring and all the other movements involved. Being stubborn and independent, I’ve tried several times and paid dearly for it.

My husband’s honest answer was that he’d prefer no cookies to store bought. I totally understood his view, and was kind of relieved to hear it. But even so, I felt a twinge of sadness – a feeling that’s become all too familiar over the last year or so.

I realized that cookies were not the only Christmas tradition that was shaping up differently this season. Stockings will be smaller, as will our tree. We’ve been to busy to pull out the box of decorations yet. And since the kids are older, there’s less excitement in the air. All those are part of a natural progression, I guess. But each one feels like a loss to me.

I came across a great article this morning by Lisabeth Saunders Medlock, PHD, that talks about accepting change. In it, she shares her own extremely challenging experience. Here’s one point she made: “It’s natural to have feelings of sadness, to grieve over the loss of something, to feel angry about your situation, or to place blame. You have permission to feel that way, but only for moments.”

Those words really resonated with me, because I can easily get stuck. Grieving is definitely part of the process of accepting change, but it’s only one the first steps. I have to move on to look at the present realistically, and the future hopefully. I can’t do that on my own, though – my mind and will are too weak.

Thankfully, I have a God who knows each change I face, and who wants to help me navigate them. The Apostle Paul called Him “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…” From his early years as a Pharisee to his missionary trips, Paul experienced change on a daily basis, and not always for the good. But God was always faithful to pick Paul up and lead him forward.

I take great encouragement from Paul’s story, because it reminds me that change can lead to really positive things. So while my family’s Christmas traditions are shifting away from the expected, I’ll try to concentrate less on what I’m losing, and more on anticipating what new blessings will come. ‘Cause God is always good!

Facing Change

When faced with change, I become a foot-stomping toddler inside. Big or small, major crossroads or little bends, all of them bring the same words to my lips –

“I don’t wanna!”

Change scares me. It upends my carefully constructed SIMS world, where I know my children will be home by 8 pm and there are no problems larger than choosing which cookies to bake. This world by the way has only ever existed in my own mind, but I’ve always had a really good imagination.

Can you relate?

My aversion to change was cemented early on. Between my 11th and 13th birthdays, my parents separated and divorced, and our house in small-town Pennsylvania was sold, fragmenting my family into three parts. The breakup was a sidewinding tornado, tearing up my home and hurling us apart. When the dust settled, I was in Connecticut with my mom, suffering from emotional whiplash.

“I don’t wanna!” Can that be a life mantra? I tried to make it mine.

I am 52 now, and another twister is bearing down on the landscape. It wasn’t set off by divorce or a house for sale. This time it’s about kids growing up and away, and me having to adjust to new physical limitations brought on by disease.

But, change is change. So how can I quiet the toddler within?

I found this verse, Psalm 14:26, and it seemed written for me.

 

He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress,

and for his children it will be a refuge

I love the image of a fortress here: strong and stable. He will surround and protect us. And God promises to be that for me and my family. When I’m caught up in the whirlwinds of change, I can focus on the seeming chaos around me or on the one who never changes.

So what scriptures help you face change?