“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Since I live on the “Space Coast” of Florida, and I also live a few miles down the road from Kennedy Space Center, you might think the space I am talking about is outer space. I am not. Not that I don’t love all things space. I do. In fact, I am happy to see the interest in space being rekindled and progress being made in our efforts to move out into space. I have long thought we should already have a colony on the moon but that is a topic for another post.
The space I am talking about is the space we need for solitude and silence that can lead us toward serenity. Wouldn’t we all like a little serenity in our life right about now? Because, for me at least, this past year and a half has been hard. I have found myself needing to change how I do things. I have found I needed to change what I was used to doing as I adapted to living life in a pandemic. I have found that I can do hard things. But most of all, I found that change isn’t as scary or as awful as I can make it out to be. In fact, when I embrace the changes, I find that some have been pretty beneficial. There were even those I wasn’t happy about that I have found helpful as I got used to them.
The crazy thing about change is we do it all the time. We certainly don’t eat the exact same food every day for every meal. We change what we eat depending on what we are craving. We certainly don’t wear the same clothing every day either. We occasionally buy a new car and when we do, we have to get used to where everything is. We occasionally buy new homes when the one we are living in no longer fits out current life situations. We sometimes change our jobs…sometimes we make the choice and sometimes we don’t. If we are single, we may someday choose to get married and that brings lots of changes. We may choose to have children and then life is just a wonderful adventure of change every minute of every day. So, you see we embrace change all the time.
The problem with change is when it feels like we have no control over the change that is happening. Then we become resistant. We balk at the changes we are facing. The doctor tells us we have a medical condition that requires us to change how we eat. Or maybe we have to take medicine every day. Maybe we have become incapacitated for some reason. We have a broken bone, which is a temporary change. Or maybe the incapacity is permanent, and we need to get used to an entire new way of life. Your job if you want to keep it is moving to a different state. Your spouse wants a divorce. Your children move out or maybe they move back in as adults. And the list of changes, we don’t like or necessarily have planned goes on.
Change happens. Both good and bad and how we adapt to them tells a lot about who we are as both an individual and as a community. Part of the reason change can be so hard is that we need to be flexible. But not just flexible, we need to be flexible cognitively, emotionally, and dispositionally. All that to say, we need to be able to adapt our thinking, our emotional responses to change, and our personalities so we can operate from a perspective of optimism as we ground ourselves in realism and openness to the new change. If you are thinking: “No wonder change is so hard!” you would not be alone. The simple fact is that unless change benefits us personally, we don’t like it.
So, the questions become: How do we adapt to change? How can we be flexible? We begin by practicing with the small stuff. We begin by allowing ourselves to recognize that just because we like one thing doesn’t mean we won’t like what is new if we give it an honest chance. And by the way…most changes in behavior take at least 6 to 8 weeks of consistent and honest accepting of the changes. Which is also why diets tend to fail. We don’t give ourselves enough time to take the change and make it a habit. And if we are resistant to the change our efforts are only half-hearted to begin with.
During Covid, I decided to take the opportunity to try to improve my health. I began walking every day and did so consistently for 8 months. I wanted the change in my life. I instigated the change in my life. I did the change in my life…for 8 months. I am not sure why, but I have gradually stopped walking every day. I still walk. I still try to get the exercise I need at least four times per week. Unfortunately, I am, at least right not, not sustaining the change that I need in my life. I can’t even tell you exactly what happened to change why I am not walking every day. I just know I began to make excuses about why I didn’t have time, didn’t feel like, didn’t whatever… But…I have recognized there is resistance…I have acknowledged the resistance…and I know that I will get back to walking every day once I figure out my personal roadblock. Which is why space is so important.
In order to find the serenity, I need for all the changes I have faced and am facing in life, I need to give myself space. Space that allows my mind to slow down. Space that allows me to see my own resistance to change. Space that gives me time to see God’s eternal perspective. But most importantly, at least for me, is by giving myself space, it calms the turbulence in my soul so I can trust in the Lord with all my heart and in trusting God, I can embrace change. Because here’s the thing: When I resist change it is all about me and my preferences and the reality of life is that, it is not about me.