Navigating the Wave of Change

Change is to alter, make different, transform, to switch, and to break from the old. Change can be difficult when we first realize we must do something differently in our lives. Change can be even more traumatic when thrust upon us and outside of our control. 

If we have made the decision to change something in our lives,  it is likely that we are moving toward or away from something. Angela Dunbar writes that we move away from that which we don’t like or  toward something beginning–often with goals set. If we make a decision to change things in our lives and in our environment, we need to consider the actions we should take and then commit to those actions. Through the process of reaching a new state of being,  we may discover areas that require healing or we may come upon new information that causes us to re-evaluate the steps we are taking. It is important to remember that this is a journey and while the path may take unexpected turns, we need to stay with the journey to the end. In the pain of change comes true transformation.

And then there is change beyond our control. Some event may occur that knocks us off our feet. This usually happens in relationships. Perhaps the person you thought you would have a long-term relationship with isn’t on the same page as you and your friendship suddenly ends. Perhaps you have unexpectedly lost a loved one–a parent or a spouse/partner. Maybe you lost a job you loved or were forced into retirement when you still wanted to work. This sort of change is much more traumatic because we frequently don’t have the time to process the change; it just happens and we are left without a plan.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I know for me that without my faith and trust in God to guide me through change, planned or unplanned, I would most likely curl up into a little ball. I have actually done that on occasion; however, I am fortunate that some wonderful women of faith reached out to me and reminded me that I am loved, I have value, and I have worth in the eyes of God. And when I think I am alone, I must remind myself that God will never desert me. I can pick up my bible or a spiritually-influenced book and let the words guide me through my times of uncertainty. Some times its a short process of getting on with the changes while other times I dig my heels in and it takes enormous pain (hitting bottom) before I will do what I need to do. No matter what, the commitment is to embrace the change, to grow, and to become better than I was the day before.

If we were to look through the bible we find it full of stories of individuals who were thrown into circumstances beyond their control and came through the fire, changed for the better. Look at Moses who walked away from a charmed life to live in the desert and ultimately became the voice of the Lord and a leader of change for a nation. David, who made extraordinarily wrong choices that cost people, including his own child, their lives. He became willing to embrace change and altered the course of history. What about a young woman who had a plan for her life only to have the angels tell her nothing she was planning was a great as what God had in mind. And in her obedience, the world was changed.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.(Jeremiah 29:11)

No matter what is happening in your world today, change is going to occur. How we navigate the waters of change will determine our ability to find joy in the change. If we take the perspective that change is an awful painful thing against which we should fight, it is likely that we will drown in depression and anger or sadness. If we can accept or even embrace, the change (planned or not) and seek God’s will for our lives, we will ultimately find peace and maybe even joy.

I pray that you will seek out the positive aspects of change, ask the Lord to reveal his new plan for you, and trust that a new day is coming. I pray that your heart and mind will be transformed and that you will be challenged to share what God has done for you with others who suffer. May you find blessings in your trials and courage to take action.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

 

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Living in Singleness

Singleness can be defined as simply “living without a spouse.” We are single for many different reason—some by choice and some through circumstances. One thing I have found to be true with many of the singles I have spoken with, is that single does not have to mean lonely or that we are living without purpose. Just because we do not have a spouse or partner does not mean that we have to be trolling the bars looking for love or sitting home alone with nothing to do.

We come to our singleness from many pathways. We are the young who have yet to meet that first true lasting love of our life. We are the never-marrieds who are desperately hoping that God will provide a mate for us. We are the divorced, weather by our choice or by someone else’s actions. We are the widowed who love our spouses and are content that we had that “one great love.” And some of us are single by choice—the ones who have dedicated their lives in service to others with no strings attached. Continue reading

Holding onto the First Stone

Social media has increasingly been lit up with negative comments, finger-pointing, and divisive language over our ever-changing culture. We sit in wait for those with whom we disagree to slip up—no we wait in joyful anticipation for them to fall off the cliff. We are quick to call out the sins and errors of our opponents or of those whose world view differs from ours. We are ready to stone and destroy anyone who threatens our sense of what is morally right. I have been amazed at the sheer volume of glee exhibited in the face of bad behavior or failure. I am talking predominately about celebrities and politicians over whom we happily celebrate their public humiliation. But we also wait to see colleagues, ex-friends and lovers, family, and even churches to which we once belonged tumble. Somehow it makes us feel better to point out the error in their ways. I think the negative postings are showing our own hearts and an overwhelming desire to be more right rather than to understand what has happened and to talk about what we want for ourselves and society.

There is a wonderful story about a woman brought to Jesus at the end of the Feast of the Tabernacles.  The woman, likely a married woman, was found in the bed of a married man who was not her husband. The church leaders bring her to Jesus to stone her according to the Law of Moses, although in reality it is to set a trap to see if Jesus will agree to stone her or let her go. What he does instead puts the decision back on her accusers by saying: “If any of you are without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Of course they all drop their rocks leaving the woman behind to go free and change from how she is living her life. We too need to drop our rocks.

It saddens me when a politician, of any party, messes up. It is an awful day for all of us when someone we entrusted to make good decisions for our country is found to be an adulterer, a molester, a thief, or reckless in some other way. It doesn’t matter which side of political fence you are on—this is bad for all of us. But the truth is: we are not without sin. Maybe not their sin, but we have our own. Before we gleefully celebrate the fall of a man or woman in power, let’s pray that God will deal with their behavior and pray for their recovery. And let us take time to ask God to show us our own failings that we too might change. Let’s be hurt and disappointed as well as compassionate instead of  flooding Facebook or Twitter with comments pointing out how they have, expectedly, fallen so far down. Put the stone down.

Maybe you are upset about changes in laws regarding same-sex relationships. Maybe you are angry about a former athlete who has made dramatic changes in his life to live in a way that goes against everything you believe. You may be angry that your belief system is being circumvented. You may hate what you believe to be a sinful nature. However, are you looking past all the rhetoric to see the people involved here? Regardless of what you believe, can you not see the hurt in these people and pray that they will find peace and joy from the inside out?  I am not asking you to walk away from your religious beliefs, I am asking you to look at them with love and kindness. You know, Jesus walked among the sinners. He stopped and talked to them about themselves. He knew already knew about them but he still listened to their stories. He compassionately talked to them about their behaviors and encouraged them to accept a new way of life. Maybe if we take time to listen and to better know each other, we can get beyond our hateful behavior and grow in God’s community together. Maybe we can stop making fun of people and start seeing who God sees and love as he told us to love. Maybe we can see God in them and love them too. Maybe we can drop the rock and see the person inside—a person made in God’s image.

When the celebrities we idolize for their good looks, their money, and their success fall into drunkenness, drug abuse, or marital woes, could we not laugh and celebrate their private failure gone public? Could we first stop idolizing them as earthly gods and see them as people just like us who are going through a painful time? Could we remember that as a part of humanity we all have the potential to find ourselves in the same sorrowful situation? Rather than flooding social media with all the articles about these public failures, maybe we should first look at our own lives and areas in our relationships that need improvement. Maybe we can ask God to show us if we are heading down a slippery slope that might end in addiction or divorce so that we can change the progression down our own path of self-destruction. In today’s world of social media we begin to think that these celebrities are people we actually know. Rather than focus on them, how about we look around and see if there is someone close to us that we can help. Is there someone you see suffering some form of addiction? Do you know of someone in a troubled relationship? How can God use you to help them? Can you put down the stone we throw to hide our own shortcomings and work for personal improvement? Take the stone they are carrying and help them.

These are but a few examples of the way we react to adversity today. If we go back to the story of the sinful woman we hear Jesus say that he is the light of world sent to bring light into our moral darkness. HE brings the light—it is not our responsibility to be about casting stones. I am not suggesting that anyone abandon their faith-led beliefs or worldviews. What I am suggesting is that we step down from the roles of judge and jury and we step into a world of discussion and clarity. Anyone who wants to change the mind of another must first understand the heart of the other and share their perspective in a loving way. So yes, put down the rock. Drop the name calling. Stop crucifying those who you believe live in sin or who may be in trouble because of their life choice. Stop making fun of people who live in a way you just can’t wrap your head around and ask them to help you understand. Stop looking and waiting for someone else’s missteps and look at your own vulnerabilities and behavior. Then you can begin to talk about what is going on in the world around you without animosity. Take the time to look into the eyes of those on the other side. See their heart. Reach a hand across the table and as you hear their story, share your story. Let God take care of what God needs to take care of. Become a real lover of man.

Drop the Rock.