Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. –Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
I’ve noticed that the topic of change has been coming up a lot lately. To be fair, the topic of how to make change easier seems to be at the heart of most of the conversations I’ve been in about this. Friends, clients, colleagues, family members all seem to come back to this point. There are some people who really thrive on change, but there are also many who will do everything possible to keep from experiencing it.
So, what is it that makes change hard? There is probably a long list, but I think there are at least three things near the top that make it a harder experience than we’d like it to be.
Change disrupts our plans.
We realize intellectually that life always brings change as part of the experience of being human. And yet, when you have planned your day, your work, or your life in some way, a change can be like catching a nail in your tire while driving along the beltway. There you are, cruising along at top speed, when suddenly you feel the car start to swerve. Your tire starts to flatten. It suddenly becomes more important to pull over and stay safe than it is to get to your planned destination. Plan A goes out the window. Solving your tire problem becomes your Plan B. You may not like it, but you get that the only way to get back to Plan A is to execute on Plan B. This type of minor change is more of an inconvenience than anything else.
Change reminds us we’re not actually in control.
About 810,000,000 results come up when you Google the word “control.” Synonyms for control include power, authority, and dominance. We go through each day with a sense that we are in charge of our lives and in control of what happens in them. Situations that make us feel powerless are a little harder to deal with than the simple inconvenience of having to change a flat tire.
Let’s say that you are once again cruising along this time on the “beltway” that is your career and your company announces layoffs. Your job is on the list to be cut. There is nothing that you did wrong and nothing that you can do to move into another job within the same company. Now, what?
I’ve heard of people in situations like this who went for weeks or months without telling their friends or family members what happened. They continued to leave their home each day as if they were going to work, but in reality, they were heading out to search for work. They were too ashamed to talk openly about the changes they were going through and admit they had been laid off because they felt they had somehow lost control of their employment. Though the company decision was the driver behind the outcome, they somehow still perceived they should have had more control.
Change reminds us that few things in life are 100% certain.
The loss of a loved one comes to mind as one of the hardest reminders that few things in life are certain. Loss and the life changes it brings can take us beyond feelings of powerlessness and loss of control to feelings of doubt. “Maybe the doctors didn’t do all they could,” we muse. Or this: “Maybe I didn’t pray enough, or maybe God didn’t hear me.” This is where we really get ourselves into trouble. Instead of accepting that there is uncertainty in life that brings changes that will go beyond our understanding and control, we start to doubt ourselves and others. Worse yet, we start to doubt God.
Friends, here’s some good news: we all have one universal tool that we can draw upon to help us through any and all of the changes that we experience in life. That tool is our faith. The passage from Matthew 14 at the end of this post is a good reminder of this. Sure, you can also learn to change a flat tire or call AAA or a towing service as a way to get your car back on track. You can participate in networking groups or grief support groups as a way to help yourself through hard career or life changes too. But when the going really gets tough, l know I am reassured when I invite God in and remember that God always has my back no matter what changes I am facing.
What about you? Are you willing to step out of the boat?
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” –Matthew 14:22-33 (NIV)