Change: The Only Constant

December 20, 2014

Change:  The Only Constant

In my last article, I wrote about the labels we wear and how they influence how we see ourselves.  There is one label which causes nearly all of us to cringe:  change.  Whether the change is good or not so good, change is difficult.  Let’s take a look at the dynamics of change.

Even if we do not like our current circumstances, we tend to maintain the status quo.  Put another way, we like to stay in our comfort zone even if the comfort zone pinches us.  Expanding our comfort zone requires us to push out or take action.  Remember physics class:  A body at rest tends to stay at rest. . .  It is easier to stay at neutral than to initiate change.

However, there is more to that law of physics:  . . . “until something causes it to move.”  Notice it does not say until “you” cause it to move but rather until “something” causes it to move or change.  “Something” implies a force outside of “you”. This is quite simple with inanimate objects.  The ball lays on the ground (at rest) until I kick it (put it in motion).

Now let’s turn this around: a body in motion tends to stay in motion until “something” stops it.  Notice the word “something” again.  If I hit the ball, and John catches it, we have an example of this principle.  But, even if John does not catch the ball, and even if it is simply rolling along the ground, it will eventually stop. Right?  What stops it?  Friction.  The ground creates friction against the ball which slows and eventually stops it.

Okay, you are probably wondering about now, “What is this crazy doctor/scientist talking about.  She starts talking about change and now she is talking about baseball.”  Since we are part of nature the same natural laws apply to us, not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional, mental, relational, and spiritual as well.  Now let’s get back to change.

Change is a force that can move or stop the status quo of your life and my life.  A force is the “something” in the previous examples: The momentum of my foot against the ball;  The friction of the ground against the ball or John’s catcher’s mitt.

If the ball was a living being, the “force” applied against it would possibly hurt or at least feel uncomfortable.  Lay on the sofa for a long time and, if you are my age, your body will feel some itchy, crickety, achy spots.  And, yes, itchy and crickety are scientific terms in my doctor’s manual! Slide into home plate and you may have a couple of scrapes and bruises from the force and friction of the ground and the opposing catcher waiting to tag you out.

Now let’s take a look at how this applies to changes in our lives such as jobs, moving, a new baby, conflict, winning the lotto, paying a huge bill, or whatever else comes to mind.  Change, whether good or not so good is hard. Here is why.

Picture yourself enclosed in a big balloon.  That balloon is your comfort zone.  When you move it moves with you.  It remains the same until “something” happens to change it.  You learn that your husband is being transferred to a new job in Texas.  You are happy for him but do not want to move.  Great pressure is now on your balloon.

You have three choices:

  1. You can let the pressure build until your balloon pops.
  2. You can open the valve on your balloon and let it deflate.
  3. You can gently open your valve and let new air slowly inflate your balloon larger.

Number three seems to be the best solution, but that is often not the one we choose.  We tend to whine and moan until either one or two results.  Our adaptation to change often only happens when the pain of staying the same (keeping the status quo) becomes worse than the pain (discomfort) of accepting the impending change.  We may choose number one and blow up emotionally.  We may choose number two and deflate ourselves with victim thinking and depression (think of depression like a big dent caused by something uncomfortable or unhappy pressing on your balloon.  Neither of these choices is healthy for us or the people around us.

Number three has a trick.  To work really well, it requires a second party.  This can be your spouse, best friend, or a counselor.  The idea is for you to let their balloon merge with yours so the air can find a new equilibrium.  You may need to let some air out or take some air in.  This is a healthy process and as you adapt your balloon naturally enlarges.  You have enlarged your comfort to incorporate the change into your life.

Let’s take this a step further and include spiritual thinking into this process.  Change is easier to accept when we believe that God’s plan for us is good.  Circumstances may happen to us that God did not plan.  These often result from resentments, disobedience, and rebelliousness on our part or from someone else.  We hear this called an attack of the devil.  It could be or it could be the consequences of our own or someone else’s disobedience to God.

We give the devil too much credit for the events in our life.  The devil is not omnipresent or omniscient.  He cannot be in more than one place at a time or know everything.  He cannot read your mind but we can certainly let him into our mind.  Joyce Meyer has a book called Battlefield of the Mind.  It is a good book for all of us to read.

If we believe that God’s plan is good, we are more prone to change.  Prayer is a wonderful way to expand your comfort zone.  With God we can walk into new situations in our lives without kicking and screaming or shrinking into a puddle of self-pity.  Change happens.  People disappoint us.  We are elated to be pregnant yet stressed out at all that will involve. The car breaks down.  It is life and it is going to have bumps and curves.  We are here to learn lessons.  The more willing we are to listen to God and understand what the lesson is, the easier we adapt and learn.  Have you ever heard the expression that we will keep getting hit in the head with bigger and bigger boards until we learn the lesson?  Sometimes God has to jolt us to get us to pay attention to how He is using a situation to teach us something new about Him and life.

I have noticed that people who are happy and successful usually have very large comfort zones.  They are more able to roll with the events in life.  How about you?  How big is your balloon?

This is the time of year when we make resolutions for changes in the New Year.  We are going to budget, lose weight, play fewer video games, be on time for work. . .  Usually by January 4th most of our resolutions are in the trash bin.  Why?  Because change (even good change) is difficult.  When our balloon has been at rest for a long time, it takes a good sized force to get it moving.  If we have let our balloon roll uncontrolled through life with overeating, spending, alcohol, or negative behavior, it will take a sizeable force to stop it.

What force will you use to either get moving or stop an unwanted situation?

I choose God and the assistance of friends and mentors who are living lives that I respect.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

 

 

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