I hate change. Wait, hate doesn’t quite cut it. I despise change. It makes me sweat. It buckles my knees and puts a perpetual pit in my stomach. It preoccupies my days and terrorizes my nights. Change. Those shifting seas of life that send my boat tossing in unchartered directions. Yeah, I don’t just crave smooth sailing. I would rather not be on the boat at all.
There are no areas of my life where change is welcome. And before you respond with some sage advice about how “nothing is certain except uncertainty” or “everything changes” or “Jennifer, get out of the fetal position,” let me tell you a thing or two. I already know. My head knows it all. Every scriptural reference, every fortune cookie, every ancient philosopher, every single truth about change, I have already processed in my life intellectually and spiritually. My friends, this has been a life long battle. I also know that not everyone rails against it like I do. I have known people who change addresses, places of employment or significant others more times than their underwear. Obviously, change is not their issue. Wanderlust. It’s never really been my thing.
Here is the real problem, for me, with change. Change hurts. It’s painful. And not the unexpected paper cut kind of pain either. It’s the compound fracture, open heart variety that knocks you down and keeps you in the hospital for a while. And, yes, I know that not all change is bad. Sometimes Sonic adds a slush with Nerds in it. Occasionally, Starbucks rolls out another delicious Frappucino. Every once in a while, you go from a size 10 to a size 8. Yes, some change is welcome. However, I am talking about the life quaking variety. That’s the kind of change I want to punch in the face.
Ay, there’s the rub. I can know all day long that change in life is going to come. And I can even know that change is going to hurt. But having that knowledge doesn’t keep me from feeling it, shouldering it, doing the emotional work necessary to see the other side of it. Knowledge doesn’t act as a shield that protects our hearts from feeling the separations that life quaking often brings. As young children, we learn all about life from our sensory interactions with it. When we touched a hot stove, we learned never to do that again. When we got screamed at for crossing the road without looking, we learned to be more cautious. When we hurt someone, we were disciplined. Pain became associated with behaviors that we should not repeat. Change feels like pain and pain feels like punishment.
I am learning that we often do more harm than good in life when we tell those around us struggling with change that they just need to “pray harder,” or my personal favorite, “have more faith.” Or better yet, we tell them, “Don’t let the fear swallow you whole. God’s got this.” Yes, I know He does, and I am going to be completely honest, that’s what scares me. He is after one thing in my life. Sanctification. And the last time I checked in on my own spiritual journey, that has the tendency to hurt too.
Now, this is about the time in my writing when I often turn this bad boy around on the highway of despair and drive it straight to the corner of lesson learned and goal achieved. But I can’t do that this time. And not because I don’t love Jesus, but because my mortal enemy, change, consistently lies in wait for me, reminding me of everything I have to lose. And on the other side of that same coin is everything there is to gain.