Friday, September 12, 2014

Change is Good, Donkey!

My number one favourite movie of all time is "You've Got Mail". (Did you think I was going to say "Shrek"?) You know, the one where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fall in love online while hating and bating one another in their "real life" business rivalry? I love it for so many reasons, but most of all for its' honesty - albeit behind the anonymity of ambiguous screen names. (Hmmm, a little like blogging, perhaps? Nevertheless...) One of the lines from that movie has been playing over and over in my head this week, (for reasons I will soon disclose): "People always say change is a good thing. All they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all - has happened." Kathleen Kelly then goes on to lament the closing of her charming little bookstore and the inevitable life-altering consequences on the horizon as a result of the change.

I haven't been shut down by a "multi-level, homogenize-the-world, mocha-chino land" mega-bookstore. But there has been significant change in my life over the past couple of weeks; the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another, to stick with the book analogy :)  It's not a very obvious change, and will likely ever impact only a few others than myself - but to me, it's huge. Life-altering, world-shaking, mind-boggling change. It's a change I made on purpose, that I chose to embrace for the greater good, that I knew was coming, and I don't regret it for a second. But to be perfectly honest, I've felt like a drug addict going through withdrawal. The first few days were horrible - tears, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite (!?), mood swings (my family can testify to that one!) was just awful.

But now that I've been able to get a little distance from it all, I'm thinking I'll survive. Sometimes, you have to let go of the old good (even the very, very good) to make room for the new good. It's the changing of my mindset and thought patterns - my heart and mind's allegiance, you might say - that has been the most challenging. You think in a certain way for such a long time, it becomes habit. (And oh, habits are so hard to break!) And instead of mentally preparing for this change (that I knew was coming), I chose to cling to my old way of thinking for as long as possible. (Note to self: bad idea!)

However, it is what it is (not a fan of this phrase generally, but it fits here). The old has gone, the new has come - hmmm, that sounds familiar...I've been working on this post over a few days and already it's getting a little easier, less heavy; there's less pain and regret and more hopefulness about what's to come. The painful moments are getting fewer and farther between, though they still come. Why, oh why, do we insist on returning to our old ways when the way ahead is clearly the right path to follow? Is it the warm comfort of the familiar, the usual, the routine? The past is safe, known, recognizable territory; the path before me is the opposite of all those things: unsafe, unknown, unrecognizable - I've never been here before. I like to think of myself as a brave, bold explorer of the foreign, the uncharted - but I'm not, not really. I want to make my way into this new world with confidence and grace, with my head held high, ready and willing to take it on and be a part of it all. And once in awhile I'm able to achieve this. There are moments, however, when I feel more like many analogies come to mind, I can't pick the one that fits best. A puppy with her tail between her legs, a cat in a strange garret, a fish out of water, invisible, alien, unneeded and unheeded, unwanted and unwelcome...

There's no good reason why I feel this way - the residual effects of a life of misplaced shame, I guess... And most days, I can acknowledge that, I can fight against it and replace the lies with truth and hold my head high (as high as a four foot nine-and-a-half inch person can, anyway). New doesn't have to be bad, doesn't have to be scary, doesn't have to be threatening. God is always making things new, renewing our strength, encouraging us to forget what is behind and press on, to get out of the boat and walk on water - and I want all that. I want whatever God is doing, I want to keep in step with Him and be where He is and follow where He leads.

But - I also want to get in the habit of allowing myself to feel what I feel, knowing that it's not necessarily right or wrong, good or bad - it's just how I feel. And not to sweep those feelings under the rug or bottle them up so they can suddenly and unexpectedly explode out of nowhere one of these days - been there, done that!  To know the real Joy, I have to acknowledge and become acquainted with every aspect of her, not just the positive, pleasant parts, but the good, the bad and the ugly. And so I must admit to myself that I just miss the old, the known, the loved, and that the effort of embracing the new is just hard; and that that's ok. It doesn't make me wicked or corrupt or ungodly - it simply means I'm human, normal (whatever that means).

I've come across several wise sayings lately (God bless face book) that pertain to my current situation, such as "the greatest chapters of your life have yet to be written" (Joyce Myer) and "race to Him instead of running back to your old ways" (Karen Ehman) and "you can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one" (unknown) and "there are far better things ahead than any we leave behind" (C.S. Lewis). Honestly, there are days when I have a hard time believing that anything can be better than what I've left behind. Not because it was particularly good (there were parts that were very, very good and part that were very, very not good - you might have picked up on that if you've been reading this blog for any length of time), but because that was what I knew, that was my identity, my "normal".  When I examine the situation objectively, however, I catch glimpses of the glory that is to come, and I am filled with joyful expectation and hopeful anticipation - I can hardly wait to see what God will do!

And so, the moral of the story is: whether we choose it or whether it just seems to happen to us, change will come and change can be a good thing. But what I'm most thankful for in the midst of all this is the changeless, unchangeable love of God. Even as the waves of change crash all around me, He is my anchor.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
(Hebrews 6:19)