Saturday, March 10, 2012

embracing change

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan Watts

It’s no secret that when I am going through frustrations, questions, struggles, sadness, what-have-you, I have to write. And most often…the things I write about are a bit too personal for me to post them on the web for all the world to see. But then there are things that I think maybe, just maybe, someone else is experiencing and might find it encouraging to read what the Lord is teaching me in it. So here it is…

I wrote last August about how I felt like I was in a “season” (which you can read here). I really had no idea what the Lord was doing with my life (which I don’t guess is something anyone ever fully figures out…) , but I was just so frustrated with how things were going. So I had to hold on to the fact that it was a season, and for whatever reason, I needed to go through that season. And while I still somewhat find myself in that place, things are quite different in my life than they were a few months ago.

I feel like the best word to describe this most recent season is "CHANGE". For six years, this is how my life looked: I was a youth minister at Harpeth Community Church and a part-time employee at Medical Reimbursements of America. I lived in Williamson County with a random assortment of roommates over the years. For the most part, I had the same group of friends from the same church, notably a family that I grew closer to than I could have ever thought possible – the Robinson family. For six years, this is how my life looked. It was like anyone’s life in that it was full of its ups and downs, but it was such a good, fulfilling, life-giving life…and I loved it. I was comfortable in it.

Within the past 7 months, almost every one of those things has changed or is in the process of changing. I am no longer doing youth ministry, which much of six years of my life was consumed with. In two weeks, I am no longer going to be employed at MRA. I now live up in the city, which has been a bit of a culture change. I have new roommates and a new dog (my first pet to ever own…). And a couple of days ago, I had to say farewell to the Robinson family (moving to East Africa) after an amazing vacation with them in Europe. I do know that much of my need to write today is a direct result of having to say goodbye to them on Friday. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it was going to be to do that…and I’m now dealing with a bit of a broken heart. It’s hard to wrap my mind around what life will be like without them here. They have been such a massive part of the past 7 years for me. So add that to the list of pretty significant recent life changes...and there are even other changes I feel like I may be being called to make, but I think you get the picture.

I am typically one who embraces change. But when God starts to remove those things in life that have provided much stability and identity and comfort for me, I am finding that I have a hard time not resisting it. Those things in my life were good. I found joy in them. I found security in them. I found self-worth in them. I found spiritual strength in them.

But I can’t help but wonder if it was exactly at that point when God knew that He was going to need to shake some of those things. Had I found too much security…too much self-worth in those things? Did I depend on them more than I depended on Him? Did I love them more than I loved Him? Had I started worshipping the gifts over the Giver? Quite possibly. But here’s what I do know: in the removal of many of these things in my life, He is drawing my heart to Him. In decreasing (or all-out removing) those things on which I had depended for so long, He is increasing my dependence on Him, the Lover of my soul. I am seeing that Christ is truly the only solid rock on which I can stand. Everything else – even if it is good – is shifting sand.

One of my all-time favorite Matt Chandler quotes is: “…for God to leave you healthy and content, with everything going perfect for you all the days of your life right up to the judgment seat where you’re damned, would be cruel of God. For Him to give you a thorn in the flesh, for Him to break your hip, for Him to get you sick, for Him to free up your hands off of the myth of control and show you how dependent you are on Him is one of the most merciful things He could ever do.” Maybe this season of change is nothing but God's mercy on my life.

He is after our hearts. He wants all of us. And I absolutely believe that in His pursuit of us, He will cause (or at least allow) things to happen to us that show us there is only One who is unchanging, only ONE Rock on which we can stand. I have no idea what the next month or the next year or the next ten years holds…but I know that I can’t go without Him. There is only one thing that I can’t live without and that is Him. So any season that is growing my love and intimacy with Him is one worth embracing with all I’ve got.

I recently read a quote that said “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” This feels not too far off for where I am in all of this right now…I’m in the “melancholy”. And I know I won’t be there forever. I know that there are great things ahead…and that change is the only way to get there. I will celebrate and remember with joy and gratitude what the past 7 years have been for me. But I know that it is only in somewhat “dying” to what was that I can move into what is to be. And I believe that what “is to be” is going to be good.

So what I’ve learned: I must plunge into change, move with it, and join the dance.