I grinned country-mile wide as my friend, Jen, told me about her neighborhood’s propensity for playing practical jokes on one another. The entire gang good-naturedly gave as well as they got, and one time they got Jen and her family especially good.
The shenanigans were discovered on a late summer evening when Jen, her husband, and her three kids returned home from a family vacation. Jen, first through the front door, stepped into the dark entryway of their house. As she walked the familiar path from the entryway toward the living room to turn on a light, she startled herself by running right into a piece of furniture. Thrown for a loop, she immediately slowed her pace and felt around for what blocked her path. It appeared to be the coffee table.
“What in the world?” Jen said out loud. “Why is that here?”
After walking around the coffee table and stumbling into an armchair, she finally reached an end table holding a lamp. She turned it on, and then her mouth dropped open. While she and her family vacationed, the neighbors had snuck inside their home and played furniture Tetris by completely rearranging their living room sofa, tables, and chairs.
Grinning wryly, Jen took in the scene before her as her family members trickled in. They stared at the same room with their belongings, but everything was situated in an entirely new way — even the rugs and kids’ toys were in unfamiliar locations. Until they could either get used to the new arrangement or put everything back the way it was, Jen and her family had to walk around that room a little differently, a little more slowly.
When you walk through a new season of change, isn’t it much the same? Until you get used to the new lay of the land, you must take your time and take it slow.
In her book, The Art of Slow Writing, author Louise DeSalvo talks about how after 9/11, many novelists had to relearn how to work and write. She says, “When our lives change, when the world changes, we must reinvent ourselves as writers.”
I definitely felt that life change after 9/11, especially since we lived on a military base at the time. More recently, we’re all navigating another major event: the pandemic. With it, I can see how once again we’ve had to reinvent how we move about in our work and play.
This is true for any of us walking through a new season, writer or not. In a way, we must reinvent ourselves as we maneuver lives that look so foreign from before. At the very least, we must get used to the new circumstances and move around them differently.
This doesn’t mean you won’t have to move quickly through some of the changes your new season brings. But it does mean you will need to give your heart the time it takes to process through these changes. It means you will not shame or talk down to yourself for taking this time. Change can move our bodies into new territory, and it may take our hearts and souls a little time to catch up. We must give ourselves the gift of rest for this to happen.
We must resist the urge to rush towards panic as we refuse to move through this season alone.
In the quiet of the morning or the still of the evening or the calm before the storm of the 3:15 p.m. carpool line, we can take time to sit in the presence of Jesus in this new stage of life. As we do so, we can consider a Scripture reference that reflects God’s promises:
This is what the Lord says — he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters . . .
Isaiah 43:16-17 (NIV)
There’s no obstacle change brings that God does not bring a way through. There’s no change we encounter that God is not master over. There’s no season we experience that He doesn’t provide us with endurance.
We may have babies graduating kindergarten or high school and mothers or grandmothers moving into nursing homes. We might have job transitions and family transitions that require must-do steps and things to prepare. But one thing we don’t have to do is to rush our hearts and souls through this season. Do what you need to do on the outside, but let God do His good work on the inside in His good timing. Hear Him speak to your heart: When you’re tempted to despair about this change, just reorient your heart’s location to Me because I never, ever change.
This is no joke: As difficult change comes into your life, Jesus walks with you through it. Take your time with Him and take it slow. You don’t need to stumble or trip your way toward the Light. The Light is right beside you, illuminating the way one step at a time.
Ruth Mills says
Perfectly timed words of encouragement as we take steps to move my dad-in-love into assisted living. Trying to manage our own responsibilities in the process & encourage him to lean into Jesus rather than the disappointment of no longer being in his apartment is more than we can handle. BUT GOD! Praise God He is in the details!
It is difficult, no doubt. We moved my dad to AL one year ago. Give yourselves and him all the grace in the world the next few months. Transitions always take longer than we think and can look different than we expect, but there’s still so much good there. It took me a few months to finally get my mind and body out of ‘crisis mode’ and to re-learn that I was no longer the one who had to check and double check every single thing. The relief of sharing the load eventually does come. Blessings.
Kristen Strong says
Oh, that is indeed a tough change on so many levels. May God reveal how He plans to take care of you and your dad in the process, in little and big ways. Much love.
Beth Williams says
2014 I moved my dad into an assisted living. He didn’t like it at first & got resentful. It was time & he had mentioned moving. I believe he didn’t like the fact that he couldn’t do some of the things he had been doing. His mind was going & he had palsy (hands shaking). It took a while, some hospitalizations & a second assisted living but he eventually liked it. He even went on bus rides through the area. Give yourself & dad permission to grieve the loss of what was. He may grow to like it there & make a few friends. Praying for you sweet sister.
One kid went to college. A few years later, the next kid went. Then announced right before his next year started that he didn’t want to go back. Then announced he wants to change his major. My husband switched jobs to one that is travel heavy right as we went into lockdown in 2020. It feels like no time has passed. I guess that means I’m stuck….stopped…not moving.
Dear kimmie, I’m sure you’re still moving. More than you know. Maybe you’re just going in different directions or moving more slowly. Give yourself grace and keep pouring your heart out to God and to close friends/family. Bathe yourself in their love.
Kristen Strong says
Kimmie, like Irene said, I bet you’re moving more than it feels like you are. A slow crawl is still moving! But all of that is a LOT, and I’m sorry it’s given you life whiplash. May God show you His love for you as He leads you through all these big changes. Sending much love.
Beth Williams says
Sweet sister it may seem like you are stuck but in reality you are moving forward. You & God have this. He will see you through these whirlwinds of changes. He might be trying to redirect your path. Who knows? Remember & cling to Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you.” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you & not for harm. To give you a hope & a future.”
My husband and I recently split. I have a new life now, in a new town, in a new home. I’m finding it hard to adjust, to stay positive and to live my life alone. I should be excited and thrilled but sometimes I get sad and lonely. I need time to adjust and I need so hard to not shame or talk down to myself for taking this time. I need to remember that God is by my side and will never leave me. I love the last sentences you wrote: “You don’t need to stumble or trip your way toward the Light. The Light is right beside you, illuminating the way one step at a time.” Thank you for the encouragement!
Kristen Strong says
Ann, I’m so sorry for these difficult changes you’ve endured–and for all the adjusting they’ve required. Count me as one who is cheering you on as you take your time and take it slow next to the Light. So happy you’re here with us, Ann!
Darlene Slon says
Thank you for your beautiful perspective this morning! It is exactly what I needed to hear! I am going through a change right now as my husband and I sold our family business we had for 28 years. It is a big change as it is basically all I have known, I am now at home basically retired at 52 and it seems so odd. There has been days where I have questioned my purpose and have felt a little lost at times. I was so grateful for a conversation with my Sister who reminded that I am going through a big transition. I love how you say to take it slow and know Jesus is right beside me in it all! Have to be reminded of this again and again as I can generally be hard on myself and know that it’s ok to take it slow…
Thank you, Kristen for the reminder we do not do any of this alone or in our own strength. It makes me stop to number the really big transitions we’ve made in the last 6 years, with *huge* changes for each of our parents, and graduating all 3 kids from high school, 1 from college (another about to), and finding ourselves empty nesters with one parent nearby. We have physically moved a parent, child, or other family member 10 times in those years.
It’s in the craziest of the crazy that I find myself leaning in the most to all He is, to get us through.
One of the harder aspects for me too is then letting Him lovingly bring me out of ‘go mode’ or ‘crisis mode’ after these big life shifts, and re-learning to find His goodness in ‘what is’. Having the same grace for ourselves and our loved ones that He has for us makes all the difference, no doubt.
Karen Wright says
Thank you so much for providing the podcast! I have been a subscriber to incourage for a while now. The podcast, hearing a woman’s voice, touches my heart in a deeper way. I listen to it during my breakfast time when I have time alone. Thank you so much!
Patti Nicolson says
Thank you for this timely encouragement. I have recently retired after almost 50 years of working and have moved by myself to a new city away from family and friends (for financial reasons). I have had the strongest desire to be by myself, to spend time with God, reading the Bible, good teaching online, and books that have sat on my bookshelves too long unread. Though I feel content and fulfilled, friends don’t seem to understand and tell me I “should be getting out.” After reading your words, “Take your time with Him and take it slow,” I have a renewed sense that I am on the right path. I am very grateful.
BC from BC says
Love your post. I am dealing with so much stress in my life. My husband is a narcissist and not helpful. I struggle with anxiety and depression because of the stress. I have a great support system with good close friends, prayer and most important my personal relationship with God, Without Him I wouldn’t be here. Breathe, take time and trust and hope only in my Saviour. Pray for all those struggling right now. God Bless.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Hall says
I am well accustomed to change. I can see it coming on the horizon! When I was 26, I was diagnosed with Lupus. For a RN that is very hard. I was also married to a narcissist and had 2 small boys. Since I was no long a desirable wife, this led to a divorce and custody battle lasting 2 years. That was back in 1991. Thankfully, God knew where the boys needed to be in order to have love and stability. At the time I was able to work. I just a few short years, the Lupus attacked my GI Tract, paralyzing it permanently.
It is a very long and painful story. I almost died 20 times. God directly intervened to allow me to raise my boys with the help of my parents. My ex never wanted the boys and he did not help at all to relieve the day to day burden on my elderly parents.
Finally I received a gastric pacemaker from Medtronics. It worked very well until 2018. They changed the device to try to get FDA approval for morbid obese patients. It would not work for me any longer. It was like having the rug pulled out from under you!
That was 4 years ago. I am still here. I have been home bound for almost 3 years and the doctors can’t figure out how I am still alive. None of my doctors are Christians. I had to move from Arkansas to California to live with my oldest son and his family. As my parents were 90 and 94–totally living great lives for the Lord. They went home -mom first on Memorial Day night, then dad 4 months and 10 day later. They has been married 73 years. So most of 2014 -the year I moved to California, I spent in Arkansas. A very hard year of change. One I did not want or like in the least. The Lord alone got me through it!!
Financially I am doing much better with a non-profit Medicare HMO. I have been told that medically, there is nothing more to be done for me. There are so many praying for me to be healed. I do not know God’s will. I wake up every morning and pray for others in need of different things from the prayer list from my church and others as asked for from our Women’s Ministry Coordinator. So, God still has a purpose for me. Each day changes for me. I never know what I will be able to do. I may have to sleep all day or I might be able to stay up and do my Bible studying. I never feel good, but if I am up, it is by God’s will.
I look at change now as opportunity. A total dependence upon God. Yes, a total release of everything else. It did not happen overnight –believe me!!! I am 61 now–a type A personality and a people person. So, being home bound came very hard for me.
This I have learned–when you finally give everything to God, you will never have a need that is not met –I mean overflowing and abundant!!! God never changes!! We are so blessed to be so loved! He is so merciful, gracious and patient with us. Please never forget that!!! He remembers that we are dust–yet He leans close to hear out slightest whisper!! Amazing!!! Change will always be a part of this life—how we handle it makes the difference–handle it with love for God and prayer.
Becky Keife says
“There’s no obstacle change brings that God does not bring a way through. There’s no change we encounter that God is not master over. There’s no season we experience that He doesn’t provide us with endurance.” Amen, friend! So grateful for the reminder of this truth!
Beth Williams says
Change is certainly inevitable in everyone’s life. Last November they shut my unit down at work (hospital clerical). I was moved to an ICU Covid unit. Didn’t like it at first. Thought I wanted to work in a different unit (still part time but benefitted). God & I walked this path together. Little did I know He had bigger plans for me. Slowly as time moved on the unit RNs & I realized how valuable I could be to them. Little did I know but they posted a full time job just for me 🙂 There are times when change can be good. I agree that with any change you should go slow & pray about it.
Tammy K Fricks says
This is absolutely beautiful and so needed right now. I am walking out of a season of grief and feel like I have been resisting the change for too long. Outwardly, I am doing it, but inside is a different story. Thanks for the reminder to be patient with myself and let my heart catch up.