“This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all along, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be.”
– Shauna Niequist, Bittersweet: Thoughts on change, grace and learning the hard way.
The above quote is from one of my favorite books. The tagline is the entire reason I picked it up in the first place. Change? Grace? Learning the hard way? You bet your boots.
Each time I come across this paragraph, I find myself either unable to hold back tears or wagging my head profusely in agreement – both are weird when you’re sitting by yourself at Starbucks.
Why is change so hard? Why can’t I be cool and spontaneous? Do other people struggle this much? If change is such a regular part of life, shouldn’t we all be professionals at dealing with it by age 30? Tears from my ugly cry in the face of some of life’s more challenging moments would answer with a resounding “Hell no” to that last one.
When I think about how best to describe my attempts at rolling with punches, I liken it to those recipients at award shows that run over their allotted time for acceptance speeches. Music starts to play, “assisting” them in wrapping up and eventually someone comes out to stand next to them in an effort to awkwardly pressure them off stage; except I am straight up clinging to the podium, ready to go out kicking and screaming because I’m not ready to go. Metaphorically speaking… most of the time.
When I felt on top of the world as a high school senior, college came and swiftly
humbled destroyed me as I scrambled to find equilibrium. During the first semester at the height of my glory, I called my mom literally scream-sobbing because “someone had stolen my purse,” only to find it under my comforter a few minutes later. Clearly, I was adjusting well. After a relatively successful college career (post freak out,) it wasn’t too long before I felt the “missing purse” panic begin to rise as I tried to find my footing in the real world.
Sprinkled in and around those “rock your world” moments were break ups, job changes, new friends, boyfriends, house moves, etc. Rather than enjoy the ride, I was too busy trying to find the brakes. I realize now, that had I been allowed to stay put, to stay the same, like I so desperately wanted at the time, I would have missed out on so much growth and so much goodness.
Currently, I’m wrapping my brain around the fact that, in just a few short weeks, I will be permanently hitching my wagon to someone else’s – a crazy amount of change that I was told takes a lifetime to figure out. Get excited! It will only be a matter of time before the transition – Lord willing- into parenthood . And while I cannot wait to marry my best friend, and I look forward to all our adventures (and all our babies,) there is still something bittersweet about saying goodbye to the way things were, even if it’s to embrace something wonderful.
In the meantime, I’m learning to give myself grace:
Change is hard. Sometimes, it’s the hardest thing that you’ll do, but it refines you every single time.
Its okay to grieve a little for the loss of what was, while still being excited for what’s ahead. Moving forward is sometimes a challenge, but it should not steal your joy. And if it does, maybe it’s time to reevaluate where your joy comes from. [Insert buckets of grace.]
Finally, change upends us, no matter our preparedness because we were created in the image of Christ. We were made for permanence. Our ever-evolving, adapting, shapeshifting lives point us to our need for the One who is steadfast, who is faithful; and who never changes, no matter how many times we do.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope; the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”