Lessons On Change

If y’all know me, you know that I think a bit on the abstract at times. Let’s just face it I am weird and I know it. Just ask my tribe. They’ll tell you. For example, Alex makes fun of me because, in the latter part of fall, I begin to count the days until December 21. December 21 marks the winter solstice or the shortest period of daylight hours. Why? Because I know as soon as December 21 comes and goes my daylight hours will increase. Also, I know that June 20 marks the beginning of summer and the longest period of daylight for the year. Early dawns. Late sunsets. Long summer days. Short nights. To get through the long winter nights I need to remind myself that spring is on its way, summer and fall will surely follow.

Fall just happens to be one of my favorite times of the year, even though the daylight hours get shorter. The colors of fall. The smells of fall. The sounds of fall. It reminds me of days gone by, times when life was a bit more carefree. Raking leaves into heaping mounds only to jump in and scatter them again. Bobbing for apples. A piping hot pumpkin latte and conversing with friends. Painting or carving pumpkins. Roasting pumpkin seeds. Watching my children run and play for hours with leaves crackling beneath their feet, tossing leaves high into the air and chasing after them. Fall festivals. Trick-or-treating with our kids. Family gatherings. Football games. Campfires. Bonfires. Hayrides. Apple pie. Pumpkin bread. Fall is a time for friends and family and making lasting memories.

Last year as I watching the leaves turn, I began to wonder, “Does change hurt the trees?” Because curious minds need to know and I know how much change hurts me. So I began to do a little research and I discovered some amazing facts. First of all, the shorter hours of daylight in the fall are a signal that the leaf needs to prepare for winter and they stop producing chlorophyll, which is what gives leaves their green color. Each leaf inside has its pigment and this is what produces the color in fall. The trees know to take its nutrient from the leaves but when the leaves stop being productive they dry up and fall off. Another reason the leaves dry up and fall off is to protect the tree during the harsh winter months of rain, ice, and snow. In other words, sometimes the leaves should dry up and fall. The good news is that in spring as the days lengthen, the trees know it’s time to start production once again.

This may be elementary for some of you but it was enlightening for me.

It teaches me that I need to view change from a different perspective and vantage point. Change is sometimes very predictable as in the case with seasons. Change is sometimes hard but necessary. Change is sometimes harsh. Change is sometimes as highly unpredictable as the weather, especially mountain weather. Ask the meteorologists, sometimes they make an educated guess at best. Change is sometimes cyclical. Change is sometimes lasting for example the loss of a loved one. There will always be a void that will never go away. Change is sometimes necessary for growth. Change will always be hard for me because change makes me vulnerable. It makes me feel out of control of both my circumstances and my emotions. Both of which I like to control.

However, as much as I dislike change if I’ll remember this lesson: While the leaves provide nutrients for the tree during the spring, summer and fall, it is the root system that provides nutrients, anchoring and the storing of food during the process of photosynthesis. The root system really provides everything the tree needs for survival and regrowth in the spring. The same is true with me. I can withstand the seasons of change if I am deeply rooted in Jesus and know that He provides me with everything I need.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that send out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year or drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

The Most Horrible News Ever….but Not Really

I sat in utter disbelief. I couldn’t believe my ears. ”We’ve decided that you, Kristi and David will no longer be attending school in Polk County. Beginning in the fall, you will be going to Tryon. We just feel like this is the right move for your education.”

As the words tumbled from their mouths, anger boiled inside. How could they do this to me?

I’m not sure when they made the decision but they decided to wait until we were on vacation to inform us. Talk about a vacation spoiler. Good thing they waited until near the week’s end to spill the beans. I knew better than to argue because their minds were clearly made up.

I fumed.

Finally, I got up and walked out. I walked toward the beach. Tears burned my face. I muttered every curse word in the book and then some. ”Didn’t they realize I already had my Freshman year of high school mapped out? I didn’t need or want a change.”

I found a payphone and called one of my friends. She, too, was unhappy about the decision my parents had made. I’m pretty sure during the course of my conversation with her I called my parents every horrible name my angry brain could muster. Talking to her did calm me down.

Now, here I sit thirty-six years later and I realize that my parents knew what they were doing. It was not a decision they made lightly but it was the best decision for us.

Winston Churchill says, ”There is nothing wrong with change if it is in the right direction.”

Change is hard. It often causes fear and anxiety because of the unknowns. It also pushes us out of our comfort zones into the world of the unfamiliar. It causes the direction to change

What I’ve learned over the years through this experience is that sometimes the direction of our lives must change because in order for us to learn and grow.

Change

Change is hard. It’s much harder if you’re a control freak, like me. It just doesn’t bode well for us Type A personalities, does it? Change eliminates our ability to control. It forces us into different patterns, new routines, new ways of thinking, even new ways of doing. It forces us out of our element and into the unknown.

As I think back over the past few years, I realize change has been a way of life for me. I barely had the chance to deal with, or not deal with one thing before another thing happened. Hard is an understatement It’s been almost unbearable at times. Those who’ve known me best and loved me most have the seen the struggles, the heartaches,the disappointments and even the times of loneliness and sadness.

I will admit I have been very selective in allowing some close enough to witness the dark cloud of pain my heart has endured. Selective because I have to protect myself. Selective because there was so much grieving my heart had to overcome. My heart needed time and space to heal. I needed time for God to remove the dark cloud of grief and restore my joy.

Here’s what I’ve learned during this time of restoration and healing. God will heal the the broken-hearted.(Psalm 147:3) He will restore joy to one’s heart.(Psalm 23:3) He will bring peace, even in the midst of great disappointment. (John 16:33 , Eph 2:14) It will not happen all at once. It normally is not a quick fix. It will get really ugly before it gets better because that’s where the real healing begins. It is within the crevices of our heart where deep pain and sorrow tend to dwell and need to be laid bare and open before healing can begin. That’s why it’s ugly.

Think of it like this: when Ryan was three he had an accident on the playground at preschool. He burst his chin wide open, stitches were necessary. I watched carefully as the ER doctor first of all cleaned the exterior of the wound. Then he carefully pried open the wound to see how deep it was and cleaned it out more. In doing so, the wound was deeper and required more stitches than initially thought. It also hurt Ryan more when he pried it open. The same with us. We can clean the surface of our hearts for a brief period of time but we’re only bandaid fixing the problem. It’s when we allow God to penetrate through the top layer and get to the real wound that true healing can begin.

The scar he has on his chin is barely noticeable. I don’t even know if he remembers the fall (probably does). The scar will always serve as a reminder of the accident, but it no longer hurts or causes pain because it has been fully healed. And so it is with us, in the fullness of time He makes all things, even the messy, beautiful in His time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)