“Life is what happens when you are making other plans.”
All the hoopla surrounding the end of Oprah’s twenty-five year reign as talk show queen/guru, started me to thinking about change, specifically the changes in an individual’s life, life changes that can also be life challenges. Challenges/Changes that almost always raise the question, “What do I do now?”
So many things can happen that will turn our lives upside down, to name a few:
Death/empty nest/divorce/loss of material possessions/loss of job-career/loss of health/aging (you and family members)/loss of a relationship.
What do you do when change kicks in your front door and takes up residence in your living room?
My experience has been that change can either prompt or paralyze; it can either prompt us to take action, to take charge and move forward, or it can paralyze us, stop us dead in our tracks, unable to do anything. We either become proactive or passive.
I see change as a call to action, a message from God that, “The time is now!” The problem is that too often, when God calls us to change, we want to have a “What if” conversation with Him. At some point in this journey called Life, we must realize this truth; our arms really are too short to box with God. Yes, we do declare God’s sovereignty in all things, yet when change shows up, this declaration turns to murmuring and complaining about the turn of events.
Ecclesiastes 3 gives us a heads up, “To everything there is a season….,” a time of change and transition. There is a time to sow; a time to harvest. There is a time to break down; a time to build up. There is a time for joy; there is a time for sorrow. There is a time of abundance; there is a time of loss. There is a time of acceptance; there is a time of rejection. There is a time to love; a time to hate. Now, while it is true that these transitional ups and downs of life may have more to do with our decisions than with any event that disrupts the flow of life, those life disrupting seasons will too often blindside us.
I heard a song a few weeks ago, a gospel song with a verse that went something like this, “Favor ain’t fair, but it sure feels fabulous.” Yes, we do love favor, but what do we do when favor dissipates, when it take flight and all we are left with is change?
The American poet, Robert Frost, wrote a poem, “The Road Not Taken.” The speaker in the poem tells the story of having stood at some crossroads in his life, having to choose which path he will take. He leaves us at the end of the poem with the thought that the road he did choose made all the difference. We, the reader, are left to decide whether that difference was positive or negative.
Let’s say that we are all standing at some seasonal crossroads, and now is the time we have to decide which way to go and that decision will make all the difference. I present to you, for consideration, some bullet points about how to approach change:
I. Reflect On Your Past
Let’s look back for enlightenment. What are your roots: How have your roots defined you as a person. What is the positive impact? What is the negative impact? Look at yourself through the lens of your past. What do you see? What were the defining moments in your past that forced you to change? Was is a positive or negative transition? Were you strengthened or did it break your confidence?
We humans often have a tendency to stay stuck in our pasts; we tend to react in our present based on the things that have happened to us in our past. The time has come to no longer remain stuck in the past. It is time to move on. If you cannot move forward on your own, perhaps the time has come to find that professional help that will give you the impetus to change.
II. Evaluate Your Present
Take a good look at the “me” you are today. Pastor Charlie Hames, on a Sunday radio program, exhorted the listeners to “Get your head in the game.” Are you sleep walking through your present, hoping that things will change for the better without putting together a plan or a purpose for this season of your life? Has the challenge of change made you lethargic about making any effort to move forward?
First Lady Meredith Sheppard, in a Sunday morning exhortation, reminded the assembly that “God can take a left-over and start over.” What is your attitude about promise? Are you now convinced that things will never change, so convinced that if change came up and took you by the arm, you would pull away?
Dr. Tony Evans tweeted, “Insisting on living in the past will kill your future.” Are you even thinking about your future or are you just drifting, hoping that you will run into something that will positively impact your life?
Have you learned to celebrate you? How do you talk to yourself? When you talk to yourself, what name do you give yourself? Do you affirm you? Or, do you tear yourself down? When was the last time you declared yourself “fearfully and wonderfully made, accepted in the beloved?” The brain does not know the difference between fact and fantasy; what you say is what it accepts and what it accepts is what you become. What have you become, and why?
III. Activate for Change
“If you want to get to the castle, you have to swim the moat.” ~Unknown
If you want to change, if you do not wish change to railroad you, you must swim the moat:
- Dare to make a change
- Dare to believe in yourself
- Dare to trust God
Stop looking at what’s happening in the lives of others, and begin to take note of yourself.
Alice Walker writes, “In search of my mother’s garden, I found my own.” When you begin to observe the strengths in others, you will discover your own strengths. When you begin to note the confidence in the voice of others, you will discover your own voice. When you begin to begin to note the success of others, you will discover your own potential for success.
Know yourself. Name yourself. Destroy the old tapes that keep you trapped in the past. Always remember that you are surrounded by grace.
Write out a personal mission statement, your vision for the “you” you want to be. The following is part of my statement:
- I will live my life as an expression of God’s love
- I will remember that I am an ambassador of Christ
- I will be the encourager when I am discouraged
- I will say “I love you” with no strings attached
- I will say “Thank you” when no one cares
- I will smile when I would rather ignore
- I will not make it personal, even when it is
The above is just a little of my personal mission statement, statements that target those things that are more than a little challenging for me. I write the statement to instigate change in my perspective on me and the world, to provoke me to put into place those things that keep me people focused and God honoring. Just know that every personal mission statement will be different because each is based on individual experiences and temperaments. Make it your business to create this kind of statement for your life and watch God not only change you; He will also change things.
Some wisdom from Dr. Seuss:
You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose
So, which road will you choose?
- It is one day at a time; no looking back at yesterday; no peering over into tomorrow
- Encourage yourself, always
- Check your attitude, good bad or indifferent?
- Refuse to stay down; press your way through
- Make a plan; follow the plan; adjust when necessary
- When things change, change your focus; look to the possibility, not on the change
Some pundit said, “If you want to make God laugh, show Him your plans.” After you have made those plans; after you have set those goals, pass them to God. Understand this, He always has the right to change your plans.
Everything Must Change!