Have you heard the rumor that if you drop a penny from the top of the Empire State Building that it could kill someone below if it hit them? Well, apparently it’s false, and it’s also not the kind of change I’m referring to either. Although pocket change might not be hurting anyone, changes in life tend to cause an achy heart every now and again.
In the last four years of my life I have become very familiar with change. In 2010, God called me to the mission field to work as a 40/40 Church Planter with Extreme Nazarene Missions. While that was a huge change in itself there was also lots of change to be had while on the field. I was only supposed to have worked with one partner during my two year contract, but, through a series of unfortunate events, I actually had 4 different partners; with each change I had to practically start the work over from the beginning. Also, with each partner change I was reassigned to different cities and that meant changes in places where I slept. Then, in 2012, I signed another contract to work in Ecuador as a recruiter. It meant traveling across the country and never staying in one place for too long. Even then, that job had lots of changes to the original plan and at one point we had to move to Peru for three months to work an event in 2013. While I was in Peru, God called me back to the U.S. to work with Extreme in marketing and design and also to plant a church. I moved back to Columbus, Ohio to work in the soon-to-be opened office, when last minute the office location was changed to Boise, Idaho. Now, I’m getting ready to leave this Saturday for Boise! Do you see a theme here?
I have dealt with lots of change, and it hasn’t killed me yet. I’ve actually started to equate the word change with adventure. If you think about it, adventure is all about the unknown, the unforeseen, the unexpected. Good stories are all about some kind of change… if everything were the same in all our stories we’d have some very boring books and movies. Change is the beginning of, potentially, the best thing to ever happen to you, and it’s up to you to make it so. A few months ago, I was flying from Boise to Cleveland with a layover in Minneapolis. The weather was pretty bad in Boise before take off so we sat at the gate for a good hour, which made me miss my connection flight in Minneapolis. When I landed I thought I could potentially make it to my gate on time, I was almost right. Running up to my gate I saw they were just pulling away that tube thingy that connects to the plane door. I told someone there from the airline that was my plane and I was presently missing it. The man behind the counter was nice and honestly a little flirtatious, but the coquettishness got me a voucher to one night in a local hotel, and for that I was thankful. Turning around and walking away with instructions of where to go, I looked at my voucher and suddenly saw it as a golden ticket. I was getting a one night vacation in an unknown place and all by myself! I had only a rough idea that I had to get on a shuttle and it would take me to this hotel. I didn’t know if it was a nice hotel or if it was a run-down truck stop, but I was excited! My mind started ideating the possibilities of the night. On the shuttle I saw the mirror image of me, if that means mirrors reflect the exact opposite. A young woman was sitting in front of me accosting the bus driver with flagrant words and nasty stares, obviously taking her frustration out on him about her unexpected stay in Minneapolis. Everyone on the bus was awkwardly looking out their respective windows as she carried on. She was sitting right in front of me so I just stared into the back of her head and I kept thinking… are you seriously upset about this adventure?! I spent the evening in the nicest hotel I’d ever been in. I had a room with two full beds; so naturally, I did some trampolining between the two of them doing flips and laughing hysterically. I ordered chinese food to my room and bought a movie. Just thinking about it gets my throat all choked up with giggles. It was a really fun night! It was an adventure. But, I had to make it that way first. If I had been like that girl on the shuttle, I wouldn’t have a good story. I’d have a string of complaints, and nobody likes to listen to a complainer.
Change is often something that falls outside of our control. Before, that was the very reason I didn’t like it. I wanted to be in control, and if I wasn’t I’d find something else I could e.g. cleaning the house, manipulating friends, creative projects, etc. With change comes the inevitable need to surrender, and I believe that is the biggest lesson that needs learning. If you want to make change your adventure you have to let go of all expectations and let the story unravel. When change is inevitable, refusing to accept it is like the toddler who covers their eyes believing in their blindness the monsters go away. It’s the single saddest thing one can do in the face of change… to miss the adventure and its lessons altogether.
After these four years of change, I am a completely different person than the boy who frightfully said yes to going to Peru. That’s the mysterious thing about change; it changes you, it makes you stronger, it sharpens you. Those moments when you realize that something big is coming along, you should be grabbing those babies up like 52” T.V. sets for $100 on Black Friday! It means a better version of you is to come closer to the surface. Never have I once looked back at these four years and wished it had gone differently. Every hard moment was a tool to sharpen my myopic vision in relationships, work ethic, emotional health, spiritual well-being, discipline, etc. All of those lessons I hold dearly and wish them for everyone around me. I don’t wish hardship on those I love, I wish the growth that comes with it.
The New Year is coming in now, and I guarantee that each of us are going to face some kind of change in 2015. My challenge is to look change in the eye boldly and say, “Let’s be friends.” Take change by the hand, embrace it, love it, hold it dearly. When your desire for control is threatened, take a deep breath and let change take some of the responsibility off your plate. Make change an adventure and view it through the lens asking the question, “What can I learn?” Change is one of the most exciting things in life, don’t miss out.