As a child and young adult, I enjoyed change. Each day was new and sometimes exciting, bringing both good changes and bad. I liked the challenge of learning new things and the thrill of new experiences. Feeling destabilized faded in the face of meeting changes with my ability to analyze and assimilate them into my life. My family moved three times while I was growing up. Each move involved climate and cultural and social changes that felt difficult but not unconquerable. As a child, I thrilled at the anticipation of moving to the next grade, thrived on learning new concepts and passing the tests to demonstrate my mastery of them. Finally starting high school was a high point in my adolescence. Going to college was a fabulous new adventure. Getting married, the triumphant culmination of many dreams.
Somewhere along the way, I lost the thrill of life changes. In my heart, challenges started representing losses instead of exciting voyages. Relocating became frustrating and tiresome. Learning new things became an unwelcome chore. I found myself emotionally recoiling from change, anxious to protect what was mine and maintain the status quo. Realizing the years were piling on faster than I wanted them to made me want to slow everything down and keep life stable and predictable, unchanging.
And now, I find myself in a season of change–unplanned changes I did not anticipate brought into my life by tragic loss. To avoid this season would mean certain stagnation, getting stuck in my current frame of mind and heart, so change is the path I prefer. Personal, financial, mental, emotional and social changes stare me in the face. Many of the changes are blessings, new responsibilities which give me a sense of security, newly found footing that feels solid. Some of the changes require me to expend a tremendous amount of energy to accomplish them. Nearly all of the changes necessitate that I feel motivated to achieve them, an emotion that is too often illusive. For the first time in a long time, the choices are mine alone. I now have options, but they materialize with no clear path as to which road is right or best for me. I feel myself going with my ‘gut’ more often than I am comfortable with, relying on instincts honed by experiences I am not confident qualify me to make good choices. Anxiety is a frequent and unwelcome companion.
Change in my life moves me to reach out for something solid, something unerringly reliable. Change moves me to pray to God, my heavenly Father, the One who is always the same. To seek not only His help, but His leading, His desire for me, His choices for this season in my life. Not only His preference, but also His will for what comes next for me.
To pray before seeking any other activity to fix my dilemma is new to me. I am a problem-solver, one who analyzes, assesses and chooses a solution. I am fairly successful at this, consider it a gift I can use confidently. I nearly always ask for God’s blessing, for His encouragement, in my life choices. Now it is different. I am different, changed by upheaval I was unable to prevent or stop. Now life is upside down and inside out. It is nonsensical and illustrates to me how little I know and how little I control. I am unsure when or where to raise my sail, in what direction to move the rudder. A boat on choppy seas, and all I feel like doing is curling up in a ball and wishing it would all go away.
So I pray. I talk to the One who knows my ending before I know where to begin. I seek the counsel and encouragement of the One who charts my path through all the turmoil of my human existence. I learn to trust the One who loves me in ways I neither understand nor am able to emulate.
My prayers are no longer wish lists to satisfy me. They are now recitations of gratitude for His care of me, for His provision of my needs and wants and comforts, for His protection of me from the Evil One, for His leading and strength and love. I ask Him to continue His loving care of me. I ask Him for His wisdom so that I make choices which not only please Him but choices that bring Him praise and glory. I ask Him to lead me in righteous paths so that in no situation am I too far away from Him. I ask Him never to let me let go of His hand.
With each prayer, He rebuilds my confidence, not in my abilities, but in His desire and His ability to lead me into the best life for me, a life that keeps me close to Him, loving and serving in the ways He wants me to love and serve. With each prayer, my anxiety subsides and I start to know that I am secure in what the future, which remains a mystery, holds for me. The fear abates; the heartache at what might have been, what is forever lost, recedes from importance. Life starts to make sense again.
“Blessed be the Lord, Because He has heard the voice of my supplication. The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” Psalm 28:6, 7
All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.