This post is part of “30 days of Giving Thanks” To read more within this series, click here.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
~ Ecclesiastes 3.1-11, ESV
(Does anyone else have The Byrd’s Turn, Turn, Turn play in their head when they read this passage? As soon as I start reading I hear their little guitar riff…)
Here in the high desert, we have two major seasons and two minor transitions. We have 1-2 weeks (or days) of Spring, 1-2 weeks (or days) of Fall and the rest of the year is Summer or Winter. I’m not kidding, anyone who lives here would concur. We had a couple glorious days of Fall weather and now we’ve hit a nice cold snap. Change is drastic and dramatic. Sometimes our lives play out in nice, predictable seasons and other times you experience a dramatic snap—Sandals and shorts one day replaced by sweaters and uggs the next. One day you are happily married and the next you sit gazing at a mahogany casket. Life is unpredictable and ever changing. Some things we see coming from a distance, some things hit us unexpectedly.
Growing up, the changes I experienced were gradual and expected. I had two parents who never divorced, one older brother (I never experienced “new” siblings), school (I only changed schools 4 times—kindergarten to elementary, elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, high school to college.), church (I attended the same church from infancy to 17) and home (my parents still live in the same house).
Radical change was a rarity—until I was 17.
I left for college at that age and lived on my own for the first time in my life. After that, change became a constant: I lived in the dorm freshman year, moved to a house sophomore year, moved to another house for the remainder of school. I switched classes every quarter. Friends came and went depending on their year in school. I was swapping between living on my own and living with my parents during the holiday breaks. I felt like I was in perpetual motion.
Even after graduation, change came swiftly. I met my spouse 7 months after graduation, started a new job 4 months after that (and moved too) and got engaged about a month after that. 4 months later I was a newlywed adjusting to married life. The next three years brought parenthood, job changes a new business and a dramatic move to a new town.
Then, just when I thought life was finally settling in, we experienced life-threatening trauma which has propelled us through more radical changes culminating in another job change and possible relocation.
Despite how it appears, I’m not a huge fan of change. I love consistency and regularity. I have learned to be thankful for change, but not in the way most people think.
Change is a challenge
No pain, no gain. When we moved to the desert, I absolutely hated it. I tried to be positive and find the good, but I missed our small, cozy home in an old established neighborhood with our nice neighbors, beautiful seasons and loving church. I tried to embrace the opportunity to learn contentment. I tried staying upbeat, but I felt isolated and grew discouraged. I was being humbled and I had to learn to live with it.
I would never have grown, if I had never been challenged. I had to be uprooted and deprived in order to dig deeper for God. Challenges bring growth, and I give thanks for that.
Change is a switch in pace
If you’ve ever had a new baby, you know that they turn life upside down. If you’ve ever had an illness, you know that it forces you to stop or slow down. Imagine life as a race. A good runner establishes a good pace to get to the goal without faltering. Change alters pace. Sometimes changes forces you to slow down and sometimes it propels you faster. There are times when we need to stop and really drink some water and times we need to forgo relief and move a bit faster to get over that hill before we get stuck.
Change is a teacher
Change is like basic math: it adds and subtracts. As we adjust to the results of our new equation, we learn how to live a different way. Perspective is gained. New skills are acquired. Even when I sit in the midst of ashes (another product of intense change), beauty rises up unbidden. Volcanic ash enriches soil and allows strong healthy plants to rise where there was formerly destruction. I am thankful for all that I am taught by change and when I sit in ashes again, I will recall this to mind:
My soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord.”
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
~ Lamentations 3.17-26, ESV
Give thanks for the opportunity that change provides—the opportunity for growth, greater dependency on the Lord, and greater compassion for others.