Change is an inevitable part of life. For some, change is exciting, offering a new adventure or perspective. Others struggle more with the idea of change. Sometimes people struggle with feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness when they face a change. While it may be a challenge, walking through change is possible.
The difficulty of change.
When life is going along without any changes, we often feel stable and secure. We understand what is expected, making it easier to function. When change comes into play, that sense of stability and security shifts. Suddenly, we are facing situations where things are no longer the way we expect them to be. We question things like what we should do, what to expect, how to act, and who we are.
This uncertainty has the potential to shake us, to cause us to worry and wonder as we try to understand the new situation where we are. And the truth is, we can face new situations often.
They can be small things like a schedule change due to an appointment or much bigger things like a change of a job, relationship, or home. All of these things produce feelings in us, many of which are difficult. While these feelings are not uncommon, they can be uncomfortable, especially over time.
How we respond to change matters.
God wants more for us than living in a perpetual state of worry and confusion every time we face change. Change can help us learn to stay connected to God and depend on Him in difficult circumstances. But God wants more for us than staying in those hard places.
When Jesus was preparing the disciples for His death, a huge change they were about to walk through, He reminded them of what He wanted for them: “‘Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.’” (John 14:27, CSB) Jesus knew all the change that was coming and He took the time to tell them how to handle it.
When we face change, we can access that same peace that Jesus promised. But it doesn’t end there. We have a responsibility as well. Just like the disciples facing change, Jesus reminds us not to let our hearts be troubled or fearful. While that may seem impossible, we don’t have to do it alone.
Start by admitting the struggle.
We all respond to things in different ways, but one common thread is often responding in isolation. We try to handle our feelings on our own. Whether it is through becoming withdrawn, stressed or angry, or even outlets such as scrolling, drinking, or self-harm, there are endless ways we process feelings and attempt to gain a sense of control when things are changing. Unfortunately, these tendencies often make the feelings worse instead of better.
Instead of processing these feelings on your own, you can start by inviting God into the rhythms of your daily life and pouring out your thoughts and feelings to Him in prayer.
“Navigating the hard with honesty means that we need to admit where we are struggling. We name the places where we feel inadequate to the task, weak, confused, or uncertain of what He is doing. We name where we are sad, frustrated, fearful, or lonely. We name it because it is true, and we would rather bring it to Jesus for help than pretend it’s not there.” (Gina Brenna Butz, Making Peace with Change)
When we bring our struggle to Jesus, we are no longer struggling in isolation. We are processing our feelings with the same God that gave the disciples peace ahead of his crucifixion. We are dealing with the feelings with the God that promises to be present with us in all things.
You can be honest with God about everything you feel. There is nothing that will scare Him away or change His love for you.
Recognize God’s presence.
After you admit the struggle of navigating change to God, it can feel tricky to know what to do next. The good news is that it is simpler than you can imagine.
Ask God to help you navigate the hard feelings and changes you are struggling with. This is different than simply telling God how you feel. This is when you ask Him for help. Invite Him to be part of the process of healing and growth.
“It’s critical that we learn to acknowledge the impact changes have made on us and to call them hard when they are hard. This helps us become aware of how our hearts are responding to those changes and allows us to invite God into the process.” (Gina Brenna Butz, Making Peace with Change)
This isn’t a complicated process. As you think about how you just told Him about your struggle, this is a welcoming Him to help you with it. This invitation allows God to speak in your life, offer help and guidance, comfort you, and instruct you on what to do next so you don’t have to walk through it on your own.
It may seem like a small distinction from telling Him how you feel. But this step is essential in helping you feel supported, loved, and equipped as you deal with the change you are facing.
Now walk forward.
There is beauty in identifying how you feel, telling God about it, and inviting Him to help you deal with those feelings. Even if you just do those steps, you will find some relief. But there can be more.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Instead of standing still, this is when you move. You need to take steps to walk forward in your feelings and the change you are navigating.
Walking forward looks different in every situation and for every person. But here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- If you are facing a job change, walking forward might look like planning the route you will take to get there and a podcast or playlist you will enjoy listening to on your commute.
- If you are facing a move, walking forward might look like the typical things of packing and securing new housing. But it can also include things that help you look forward to your new neighborhood like looking up the best coffee shop in the area or a place from which you can order pizza on moving day.
- If you are facing the loss of a relationship or someone you love, walking forward might look like packing up some of their things and then scheduling time to get out of the house with a trusted friend.
Even small changes require us to choose to walk forward:
- An earlier start time at work could benefit from setting up the coffee pot at night before bed.
- A child advancing to the next grade at school is a great time to check out some of the exciting things they will learn next year.
- Your teen getting their license may require you to be intentional about finding time to be with them. Consider how you can do that by making their favorite meal or offering to do something they enjoy.
What comes next.
As you walk through these steps you will find that it is a process and one that requires repetition and time. Since change is an inevitable part of life, you will face change in big and small ways again and again. The good news is that some of these changes will feel wonderful and exciting. For the ones that don’t, you can go through these steps each time.
In addition to walking through this process with God, it is important to walk through it with someone who can help you talk things out and productively process them. If you would like help navigating change, please contact our reception team to schedule a counseling appointment. We would be happy to help you successfully navigate the changes you’re facing.
“Crossroads”, Courtesy of Javier Allegue Barros, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Change”, Courtesy of Ross Findon, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Autumn Leaves”, Courtesy of Chris Lawton, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Arrow”, Courtesy of Hello I’m Nik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License