A Parable of Change
Some people are better at change than others. I am sheepish to admit that I'm not one of them. Even though I know in my head that change is inevitable...
- it's good,
- it helps us progress and move forward,
- it keeps us growing and learning....
I have a really hard time in my heart adjusting. Constant change can be exhausting. A few months ago, the Holy Spirit began a dialogue with me about my attitude with change. Within the past year, my life has changed A LOT with family dynamics, dear friends moving away, work life shifting, and welcoming a baby into our lives. It got to the point to where every time someone would announce a change, instead of celebrating (even if that news was really exciting) I was cringing a little more inside simply because it was another change. That's not okay. If you have an issue with change you're in for a tough trek because the reality is LIFE IS FULL OF CHANGE. Through prayer and processing, Holy Spirit revealed the root of this issue in my heart - selfishness. Yikes. Yuck. 99.9% of the time, I didn't like change because of how that change was going to affect MY life, MY schedule, MY husbands's schedule, MY reputation, MY norm... you get the picture. One night I stumbled upon a video lecture (Let's be real, I was looking up a hair curling tutorial and somehow ended up watching a 90 min lecture from a Presbyterian Conference. I can't make this stuff up.) In the lecture the speaker shared a story about how after taking a job as the pastor of a well-established church and evaluating the vision of that church, she chose to remove the 100 year old pews. ONE HUNDRED YEARS. (Insert Abby's animated face with wide eyes saying that. Gah, my history-loving heart is pounding just thinking of that kind of decision.) As you could imagine, this change caused catastrophic chaos in the hearts of the congregation. The Pastor expressed to the members that the reason for changing the pews was because their church wanted to reach young families and they needed more room. They needed room for strollers, room for wiggly kids, room for different ages and demographics, and room for new believers. She admitted that yes, this was a difficult decision because these pews held history. They'd witnessed weddings and funerals, they'd been a safe place to many and a launch pad for others. But where the Lord was calling this church to go, the pews couldn't go with them. With a genuine explanation, a thank you tribute to their dear wooden friends, and a pause of grief for what was to be lost, the congregation's hearts softened a bit and, instead of being bitter at the Pastor for "ruining their story," they agreed that this was the Lord's leading. This pastor did something so valuable! It's what Holy Spirit highlighted for me. She acknowledged the loss, but also captured the gain. To embrace change well, we must put value on the old and vision on the new. Both parts are needed to process with wholeness in mind. Our western culture is really good at the second part of change... the vision, the gain, the excitement. As leaders, we love throwing all of the confetti in the air. If you've ever wondered why people aren’t excited about change, it’s probably because where you see confetti, they may be stuck only seeing the thousands of colorful pieces that they will have to clean up. When we blast off with the new and never face the emotions of what just happened, we turn around and find ourselves and others offended, bitter, and angry. It is SO healthy to say to yourself, your family, your team.... "what we are losing in this change is hard, but we're following Jesus." This concept can be applied at a corporate executive level or within your personal self talk. Let's get practical. Say you're a dad and you're moving your family across the country. Instead of only trying to hype up all the cool new things this city will hold, add in a sentence or two of "I know this means you're losing a school and friends and church community that you love. I'm so sorry. That is going to be hard. But I'm confident if Jesus did it once, He will be faithful to provide those things again."
Maybe you lost your job, your boyfriend, or a family member. It's okay to journal about how it's going to be incredibly sad to not see them anymore before you turn the page and plow on, because the reality is, Jesus wants to meet you at every page of your story: The highs and lows, the ins and outs. He'll give you empathy for what's changing and energy for the future at the same time. He's so good at that! For me personally, this concept of processing the change and communicating both sides of “something new” has been a game changer. It’s helped me step out of selfishness and see the full picture of things.
Finishing with the Pew Story; fast forward a few weeks, and one of the church members was at a local coffee shop for a Bible study. After looking around he recognized the pews in the room. It was THEIR pews. As he looked around and saw humanity sitting on these pews he had a eureka moment. These pews became a parable. You see, we are called to be like these pews. Sometimes, even if it's hard we must get out of our comfort zone and go into the world to be salt and light to others. If they would have been selfish to hoard the pews, others would have never had access to them. The Lord honored their faith! The change was worth it! And their hearts were in the right place to enjoy the harvest. Wow! What a story, right? This one change brought huge life and fruit to this congregation as they welcomed in new believers.
Change comes in many forms. Sometimes the Lord calls you to guard something. Other times, He calls you to let go. Both are important and I believe we typically lean one way or the other. I'm a guarder in nature. I want to shelter and support and value deep over wide. (I guess that's the Levite in me ;)) But when Jesus says "it's time to grow. It's time to let go," I want to be at a place in my heart that is able to trust fully and embrace change with grace. I want to be able to trust the leadership of King Jesus without giving Him a laundry list of Pharisee laden reasons of why that change won't work. ( I mean people, His leadership is perfect. He is never wrong and never manipulative. If we can't trust Him, we've got some Lordship/control issues to sort out). I want to be able to honor where the old has taken me but buckle up for where the new needs to go. As Fathers and Mothers, Husbands and Wives, Leaders and Influencers : May we all communicate change and embrace change with greater grace.
*** Don't forget, The Cirkles are cheering you on.