How to Change
By Elisa Morgan
I pulled my car into the unfamiliar shopping strip and then momentarily hesitated between left and right. I'd never been to this grocery store and wondered where to park. Behind me, a car blared its horn. I jumped in response, choosing right, but grrrrrrr-owling under my breath while doing so.
Since ending our twenty-year-love-affair with our family home and moving to a townhome 15 miles away, every minute of every day had been packed with the push to figure things out. How to assemble an iron bed ordered online and arriving without instructions. Where to find the nearest/cheapest gas. Transferring prescriptions. Forwarding mail. Where to place the Christmas tree and how to fit the family gift exchange around it. How to help our thirteen-year-old dog, who'd always slept in our bedroom but now could no longer do stairs, learn to sleep on his own on the main floor while we slumbered upstairs.
An ongoing challenge gnawed at my sleep every night and choked me awake each morning: How to change. I was gagging on it.
Why? I've always welcomed, enjoyed, embraced - even loved - change. Really! In leadership, a new year brought new vision, new strategy and a new theme to inspire others to come along. In mothering, each developmental milestone achieved was a new adventure to explore. In marriage, every maturing season revealed more to learn and love.
Why was this current challenge with change, plunked squarely down in the new turf of my new abode, so very hard for me?
My brother called. While sharing a saga of one of his stuck-in the mud neighbors who didn't like having even one knick-knack rearranged - ever - he observed, "Well, as people age, change is harder and harder and we resist it more and more."
Do we? Was this what was happening to me? Was this about age?
I took a pilgrimage to a retreat center where I followed a leader's ponderings on aging. Searching in my soul, I recognized a fetaled curling up of me within. Like a clenched fist or a tightly closed shell. Over a few days, my being bent a bit, releasing tension and opening to receive.
In the concluding session, our assignment was to write a letter from God to ourselves. God took me to a place I didn't anticipate. At first the learning was familiar territory where he had crashed through to reach me decades before. Let God love me. A powerful and needed place to stand in life. But then this very truth turned to apply itself in an unexpected spot, the very place where I was struggling. How to change.
I share it here because I feel you might relate, and grow a bit from my discoveries about God's love for me. And his love for you.
You try so hard. To be kind. To connect with others and make them feel special. To behave correctly. To hold yourself back and to listen better. To anticipate and then meet the needs of others. All this effort exhausts you.
You came away to retreat with the intention of falling in love with Me again. All I want you to do is let Me love you. Hear My wooing. Sit in My presence. When you experience My love for you, then you will feel your love for Me.
Notice where you are defended. Where you resist Me. And what you raise up like a shield to protect yourself. Shame. Weariness. Apathy. Fear. Exhaustion. Doing. Doing. Doing.
Invite Me there.
"Oh," you say, "But I know You want me to change and I don't want to change."
Invite Me there.
"Oh," you say, "But You'll make me change if I invite You there."
I'm already there, with you.
"Oh," you say, "But I can't have You there. I must keep my shield of protection in place and stay defended so I don't have to change."
Try it. Try to notice Me, even there. I won't make you change. I won't make you do anything for that matter. I am with you whatever you choose. Your choices will not impact My love for you. They can only alter your experience of My love.
So, know I am with you. Even there. Everywhere. When you want to risk experiencing My love for you there, just open your eyes to see Me there.
It boils down to control. You want to control your experience of My love. You can. But you can't control My love. It's there always and no matter what. You just have to want it. You just have to want Me.
So ... I discovered where to park at the grocery store. The bed is assembled and a perky new comforter sits atop. There's more left to do to finish transferring prescriptions, but the mail is forwarded. Christmas came with the appropriate celebration and is now boxed up in our new storage area. Our old dog is still with us, sleeping on his bed downstairs.
One inch at a time, I'm lowering my shielded self-defense and releasing control over what and when I change and instead, learning to change to want God.
Elisa Morgan is an author and speaker and the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her latest book is The Prayer Coin. Her other books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.