You may be driving down the road, sipping your premium blend coffee in your favorite travel mug, and reveling in the fact that you are right on time for work. Then, out of nowhere, she appears. Donned in bright vest with radio in hand leaning on the dreaded big red sign. STOP. You tap your fingers on the steering wheel, and wait. Then, another sign appears off to your right: DETOUR. Just what you needed - a detour when you were finally going to make it to work on time.
Life's like that the little scenario sometimes. We have it all figured out, we are on our merry way, finally, we have it all together. Then, out of nowhere a detour, change or trauma pushes us out of our comfort zone, and we are on a path we did not plan or maybe didn't even desire.
For you, maybe your company is downsizing: AGAIN. The slip appears with your pay stub, and you are now unemployed. Possibly, an unexpected pregnancy has you baffled to the point of guilt and tears. Your family was complete, or so you thought, but yet, here you are embarking upon another ch-ch-change. "A baby is a blessing," you chide yourself, but the change is hard to comprehend in all that it will mean to your comfortable world. However, when the baby arrives, you forget all about the worry and confusion and embrace the new life that has been given and realize, "oh yeah, this was planned, though not by me, but it was planned."
So it is with other changes. The birth pangs of change are hard to bear, yet the new life that is waiting for you will be "exactly what you always wanted" if you "go" with it.
Changes can be simple or complex. There are times in our lives that God begins to ruffle our nests, so to speak. It can come out of nowhere seemingly, or be a gradual descent into dissatisfaction, uncomfortable nudging, and misery, if left unchecked. Such is my case.
I had a job I loved, and clients and patients I adored, but then it came. The still, small voice that begins to prompt, "this is the way, walk ye in it." I did, what many others do, I assumed it was me. Hey, I'm at the mid-life age, it must be that crisis everyone laughs and talks about. However, it became increasingly obvious to me, that I was no longer myself. I smiled less and my laughter became infrequent. What was happening? I was not heeding the checks, so my nest began to be ruffled. I became miserable. And, everywhere I turned, it was the premise, that a "new thing" was around the corner. But, I was comfortable. Too comfortable, I suppose, so then I began to get uncomfortable. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about. Because I am of ripe ol' middle age, you think I would have recognized the prompts. However, even oldies need reminded that, "it is not in man to direct his steps."
My own words to my daughter began to echo in my mind. "Change is often a step of faith, a matter of obedience and the provision, clarity and peace will come after to put your foot in the water. (A Bible story reference when the foot was placed in the water, then and only then, the waters parted). She had it happen a few months back. Unimaginable things happened to her, and her nest was ruffled.
Sometimes, we don't see the plan until we step out. We are not meant to see the whole picture. There is a verse that illustrates this truth. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." This takes on an entirely different meaning when we understand the times in which it was written. There were no street lights, back in the day, so if night travel was needed, a little clay pot was attached to the sandal in order to have light enough to take the next step. Wow. Kind of lightens up that verse, doesn't it? There was only enough light for the next step, and then the next, and then the next. Sheds "light" on the verse for us, doesn't it? Sometimes our journey is step by step. We have enough light to know the next step, it is promised. Therefore, we must take the next step in order to have the light for the following.
The way will be made clear, but obedience is essential in discovering it.
For me, that meant ch-ch-ch changing. Change does not come easy for me. I like stability, security and routine. I like a schedule. I place my furniture in a spot when I move, and it never changes. I hear husbands laugh about running into things in the dark because their wives change everything around. That's cool, but I don't relate, as I don't like change. I have a motto and that "boring is good." Therefore, God must ruffle my nest often to get me on my way to the next step of the journey. I get it. But, I usually go down screaming, kickin' and fightin', but I get it: Changes enables us to grow.
We hear a lot about giving our kids roots and then giving them wings. It's painful, and I don't mean for them. It's usually a delight to them or at least, most of them, but it is painful as you see your son or daughter board that plane for the military, drop that young adult off at college, or see them begin their careers, but they are growing and that is natural and good and right. They need wings and sometimes their nest needs to be ruffled to get them.
How about you? Is there anything you've always wanted to do? Are you sensing a change needs to happen? Are you fighting it or embracing it? Maybe you should be in politics? Wow! Where did that come from? Maybe running for an office would enable you to make a difference for a generation and even more. Possibly volunteering for a worthwhile cause would be your next step? Maybe, you are like me, and a job change is in order? Perhaps, priorities need to be shifted: also like me, and concentrating more on home.
For me it is these soon-to-be-adults who are growing and eating me out of house and home teens who need more attention. It seems that once kids become teens, society has a "live and let live" mentality that a parent's job is finished, and keeping the fridge stocked is about all there is left.
I beg to differ. Yes, it is true that a child's personality is formed by age 3. Their character is formed by age 6, but enjoying and completing the journey with your child to adulthood is imperative for that healthy adult we all want our kids to become. So my purpose is two-fold right now: enjoying these lanky, crazy, fun and noisy guys for these fleeting months and years. And, also, to embark on "a new thing." Interesting, that kept coming to mind during the last couple of weeks.
You know, the verse about "a new thing?" I went to church, and what did the preacher open up the sermon with? Oh yeah, "a new thing"- Isaiah 43:18 - "Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert."
Is your nest being ruffled at the moment? Maybe not, possibly "continuing as is" is the plan to follow, but may I encourage you my friend? Do not fear the unknown. We may not know the future, but we know who holds the future. Change is a part of life and it's not just for young adults. Many older adults have completed writings, paintings, research, music, in their golden years. Ch-Ch-Ch-change is not just for the young. Maybe "a new thing" is in store for you today.
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a home school mom, a licensed chaplain and a counselor at Cornerstone Christian Counseling Center. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.)