How do you feel about change? Do you welcome it, or do you resist it?
Do you rearrange your living room every few months, or has it stayed the same for years? How many different hairstyles or hair colours have you had in the last five years? Would you be happy working for the same company until you retire, or do you feel the itch to do something new every so often?
The more I think about “change,” the more I realize how complex a word “change” really is. There is, after all, positive and negative change, major and minor change, permanent and temporary change, and several other types and variations in between.
There are two aspects of change that intrigue me the most, and the first is the way it makes me feel. When something changes, it feels foreign, different and far from ordinary. It causes me to feel different from my usual self—like I’ve distanced my mind from my actions, or my perspective from my body, or something like that. When things change, sometimes I don’t feel like “me”; psychological gravity has a lesser effect on me; I don’t feel quite as grounded as usual.
Here’s an example: Joel and I have put our house up for sale. That simple action will produce so many changes that to comprehend them all at once is overwhelming. Some of these changes have already made me feel a little “different” just being at home. Other changes I know are imminent, and I’m a little nervous about how they will make me feel when they happen.
Our house feels different because I’ve staged it to sell by removing all personal effects such as knick knacks and framed photos. Clutter now lives in cupboards, and our dog now temporarily lives at my in-laws.
At some point in the near future, we will be living in a different house.
At first, I probably won’t feel at “home” there. The layout will be different, and our things will be in different places.
I will be sleeping in a different room, and showering in a different bathroom.
The house will have its own different smell and will produce different “house sounds” like certain creaks when you walk across certain sections of floor.
I will be driving a new route to all the places I go; some places will be closer, and others will be further away.
All the nuances of living in a certain house will be completely changed; all the little details that I don’t ever notice will become extremely noticeable because of their difference from my norm.
So much of myself is entwined in my home, for “home is where the heart is.” I will be uprooting my heart to plant it elsewhere. Of course I will be taking the memories of the years I spent in our house with me wherever I go, but they will always play themselves out in my mind in this house. Moreover, I will be entrusting my home of five years to another family, hoping and praying that they are able to make this a real home for themselves, enjoying and appreciating and loving it like I have.
I like the idea of change, especially if I know it’s ultimately for the better. Change can be refreshing, but adjusting can be clumsy and challenging. The initial period of “newness” can be awkward, making you feel as though you’re in a different country instead of safe in your familiar homeland.
Change feels strange.
When something changes, everything feels strange, but thankfully, that feeling only exists for a little while. Familiarity slowly overcomes foreignness, and eventually, to move away from that newly-found familiarity would denote another change.
This brings me to the second aspect of change that baffles me: Sometimes I wonder at the capacity of human beings to adjust and adapt to the countless changes of a lifetime. As our bodies grow and eventually start to age, we are continuously met with changes and are faced with decisions. Our relationships grow and develop, and life happens, and we are met with more changes that feel strange at first. We live in different houses, experience different financial situations, work at different jobs, become part of different communities of people, are blessed with life and suffer death. Isn’t it amazing that for the most part, we are able to take change and transform it into familiarity? Sure, some adjustments take more time and effort than others, and some we may never get used to, but generally speaking, we are resilient creations that can eventually get used to situations that have changed—and maybe even get used to “change” itself.
Do we grow accustomed to difference because it’s the only way to survive (and humans were created with a will to survive)? In other words, do we adjust to change because we have a survival instinct? What about positive change? We still have to go through an adjustment period even when we experience a change for the good, right? So regardless of the type of change, generally speaking, we adapt, adjust, endure a period of awkwardness and then carry on—move on—continue on through life, eventually getting used to the new state we’re in? Take all of those questions and throw in the fact that as our environment and circumstances change around us, we ourselves also change, compounding the effects of difference in our lives! With all of this change, how do we remain stable and balanced? It's a wonder, isn't it?
I wonder if humans are able to adapt so well because of the fact that there is something in this dynamic universe that always promises to remain the same: God, His promises and His infinite love for His adaptable creations. The more I change and adapt to changes, the more I realize how solid and unchanging He is; no matter how much life changes around me, I have a constant and unchanging God at the center, Who is familiarity, Who is home and Who is light, even when nothing else is.