I had a friend who once said, "Nothing changes but the changes". With current technological advances it is more true today than ever. But what happens when change is forced on you by someone or something? It can be devastating. Health, accident, disaster, divorce, downsizing, disagreements or simply the cycle of life. In most cases we are left to figure out how to deal with the change on our own. There are self-help books, counseling and of course, friends who hopefully are the kind who will not expect you to follow their advice or they will de-friend you. Then there is God, the One who made you, who knew what was going to happen to you and who knows your future. That's who I want to talk to when forced change occurs.
Now talking helps me get things off my chest, but listening in a conversation with God is the key to moving forward in changes. In my times of change, and I've experiences some very big changes recently, this is what I've discovered. I take 3 steps.
#1. Mourn - to grieve over or be sorrowful Because change forces us in a new direction I believe it's important to take time to look back over what's happened. In my life I've used this method to remember how good things were but to realize because something changed it is not possible to stay in that place.
#2. Explore Options This is where I consider what actions I must take to exist with my change. I look down the road to see where it might lead. Others may run in one direction or another, not considering the consequences of their choice. Either way works but I've observed it's less messy when we calculate where our choice may lead before heading off in that direction. Especially considering how my choices will affect others. This is when I listen to that "still small voice of God inside". It requires meditation and that means quieting the world around (and our friends) in order to hear.
#3. Take Action Making a plan for the next step in life is important. If I'm taking a trip I don't just get in the car and drive - unless I don't care where I end up. Most of the time I have a destination in mind and I find the best way to get there. So it is with life. I have a destination in mind and in spite of change I must find the best way to get there. Some may say, "What's the point in having a plan? The unexpected changes in life won't allow me to get to my destination. So that would mean if I had a flat tire while on a trip I should not continue on the trip? No, I'd fix the flat tire and continue on.
Rather than view change as something devastating I've viewed them as opportunity for growth. I have experienced things and people along the way I wouldn't have otherwise known.
For example the toothless old man I encountered at a gas station in southern Indiana while on a trip one chilly fall day. I had a flat tire outside his gas station, caught in a time warp. I went in asking if he could fix my tire. He agreed to do so and said I could wait inside by the wood stove. "Help yourself to a soda in the cooler, too", he said going out the door to fix the tire. Upon returning I thanked him and asked him how much I owned him. He said, "Five dollars." I then asked how much for the soda and admitted to helping myself to peanuts I found on the counter. "Oh, fifty cents for the soda but no charge on the pean
uts. I already sucked the chocolate off 'em."
That's a microcosm of unexpected change that happened on a road trip. It allowed an encounter that gave me the laugh of a lifetime and it keeps being passed on and on!! Those encounters are what sometimes make the interruptions in life worth it.
P.S. I made my destination - only a half hour late - with a great funny story to tell! So it is with life. The changes only cause delay but there will be interesting things to encounter along the way.