Monday, April 07, 2008

Change: The Pain and the Power

“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 (NIV)

I believe that God has a good plan for all of our lives – a plan that gives us “hope and a future.” But sometimes we’re too afraid to take the risks or face the fear that goes along with change. (Believe me, I’m preaching to myself right now, too.) Yes, familiarity is nice – and comfortable, but sometimes we reach a crossroad in life, and if we have the courage to take the road to change, it can lead to new and exciting adventures that make our former experiences seem dull and boring.

“We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable.”

~ Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist, historian (b. 1918)

In Robert McGee’s book titled “The Search for Significance,” he writes:

“[N]othing forces us to remain in the mold of the past. By the grace and power of God, we can change! We can persevere and overcome! No one forces us to keep shifting our feet in the muck of old failures. We can dare to accept the challenge of building a new life.

Dr. Paul Tournier once compared life to a man hanging from a trapeze. The trapeze bar was the man’s security, his pattern of existence, his lifestyle. Then God swung another trapeze into the man’s view, and he faced a perplexing dilemma. Should he relinquish his past? Should he reach for the new bar? The moment of truth came, Dr. Tournier explained, when the man realized that to grab the new bar, he must release the old one.

Our past relationships may involve the intense pain of neglect, abuse, and manipulation, but if we do not begin the process of healing, we will be unable to experience the joy, challenge, and yes, the potential for failure in the present.

We need to be honest about the pain, the anger, the disappointment, and the loneliness of our past. We need to put ourselves in relationships that will encourage us to feel what we may have suppressed for many years. This will enable us to begin . . . to experience hope and, eventually, healing. Change is possible, but it is a process. Does this seem strange? Does it seem difficult? We may have difficulty relinquishing what is familiar (though painful) for what is unfamiliar because our fear of the unknown often seems stronger than the pain of a poor self-concept. It seems right to hang on. Proverbs 16:25 says, ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.’ Any change in our behavior requires a release from our old self-concept, which is often founded in failure and the expectations of others. We need to learn how to relate to ourselves in a new way. To accomplish this, we must begin to base our self-worth on God’s opinion of us and trust [Him] to accomplish change in our lives.”

“It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old way, but it’s that place in between that we fear . . . It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.”

~ Marilyn Ferguson, author and public speaker

I’d like to close with a poem my sister Mary wrote two years ago which vividly describes the pain and fear associated with change. As some of you may recall, Mary went through a tumultuous marriage and divorce several years ago; she knows firsthand how difficult change can be.

“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.”

~ Sydney Harris, journalist, Chicago Daily News & Chicago Sun-Times

By Mary Van Kirk

Dark eyes watching
What is out there?
Who is out there?
I want to know.
Or maybe I don’t.

Change is painful
But it won’t kill you
So why is it so hard to do?
I don’t like pain.
I want change.
But don’t always want things to change.
What am I afraid of?
The unknown.

Dark eyes watching.

“Do not [earnestly] remember the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it, and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

~ Isaiah 43:18,19