Do you ever wonder how this year went by so quickly? It is amazing how much change can happen in one year. Life moves at an unbelievable pace. This year, I have lived in three different cities (Tulsa, Boise, and Oklahoma City.) I ended a contract with a non-profit/church fusion in Tulsa, and left to help take care of my Mom in Boise for 6 months. There, I was able to experience seeing her transition from this life into the life to come with the Lord. After Mom passed away, I began another transition. This changing season included learning a new normal of life without my Mom’s presence involved in the day to day. I also moved from Boise to Oklahoma City, and began to work in Oklahoma City as a consultant. I ended my pursuit of a master’s degree, and enter a leadership training experience for young leaders. Oh yeah, I also sold my 3 bedroom house in Tulsa, and then moved my 3 bedrooms of possessions into one bedroom, changed lifestyle habits, and began to find a new church home. That is a lot of change in one year.
When I was a freshmen in college, I took a Psychology class. They said that people who dealt with enormous changes as listed above would be overwhelmed with stress, and that seemed to lead towards nervous breakdowns or like responses. Don’t worry, I haven’t had a nervous breakdown. In fact, this year has been an incredible year of growth, relationship, and opportunity. Endings are hard. Beginnings can be hard. Yet, change provides opportunity for growth. A friend reminded me today, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Change is one of the greatest gifts God has given us.
What do you do when everything changed? Sometimes, this happens with relationships as you grow distant from some, and closer to others. You may have a changed worldview. Maybe the things that were once important to you changed, and you have a different outlook according to your values.
Here are three things not to do during big transitions.
- Don’t Pretend The Change Didn’t Happen. This isn’t helpful. Accepting the changes is one of the more important shifts you have to make. Burying our heads in the sand pretending everything is how it was will keep us from growing, and keep the thoughts of what was spinning in our minds. When we hold on so dearly to what was, we cannot fully embrace what is, and what can be. Yes, there are moments, people, and memories to cherish.
- Don’t Predict Your Emotional Responses In Advance. Brené Brown talks about this in The Gifts of Imperfection. When we plan out our emotional responses, we are numbing from the reality of the experience. When you numb the sorrow, you also numb the joy. One of the most important resources for you in a difficult time is joy over the good things, but it is hard to find the joy when you have numbed yourself to what is gone. We all have our own ways of medicating or numbing what hurts. The important thing is to recognize your medicating habit, move away from it, and in the meantime drop the guard of predicting your emotional behavior. Instead, allow yourself to feel the depths of sorrow, and the heights of joy. This will help you move through the changes you experience so that you can metabolize them, and then move forward.
- Don’t Let Fear Control Your Decisions. We’re all afraid. When you have gone through significant changes, it is easy to let fear dictate your next step. In an effort to make sure you don’t disrupt the good relationships you have had, you might try to be the person you were before the change happened. You aren’t the same person you were, and you don’t have to live in fear that people won’t accept you. If they cannot accept the person you are growing into, there may be an ending to the nature of the present relationship. You may not be as close as you once were with someone, but it is better for them to reject the real you than to love a lesser form of who you are. In my experience, the ones who love you for who you are will be thrilled about positive changes in your life, and will be excited to grow into a new season with you. I encourage you to be strong and courageous. Maybe you’ll feel weak and fearful. It’s okay to feel afraid. After all, that’s when courage counts most. You can act with courage.
Question: What have you found to be helpful in facing big changes?