Courage to Change

Courage to Change

It’s no secret that transitioning from familiar old ways to new ones often carries with it a degree of emotional discomfort. Heavenly Help, Revolving Doors, Courage to Speak and Courage to Understand discussed risks and benefits involved in stepping out of our comfort areas which have been magnified with unforeseen adjustments during the Pandemic. Stories of adjustments and accomplishments are swirling by phone, over social media, articles, newspapers and books.

At the follow-up visit with my back doctor, as I presented him with my blog inspired by his “Ruth, your prayers have just been answered”, he said “Indeed I had to step out of my comfort zone to meet your medical needs. If we’re unwilling to try new things, we won’t grow”.

When we decide to get married, start a family, move, switch majors, have a hip or knee replacement, change jobs, schools, etc., the excitement of major improvement dilutes the accompanying pain of change.  When we have no choice or are obligated into major management responsibilities, it’s a different ballgame demanding that we decide which attitude we’ll select.

Choosing an attitude about an unexpected change reminded me about the morning when I looked out the window and saw an old white van still parked in front of our house, I said to Jim, “I wonder who that van belongs to?”

“It’s ours “, he said. “I bought it yesterday afternoon.  I want to fix it up for you.”      “I don’t want a van. I like our car.”                                                                                         “I want you to be up higher and have a more comfortable ride.” He reasoned.  Jim had made up his mind.  I knew there was no persuading him to return the van.

(Side-note reminder--male and female head-logic Thinkers make decisions and expect approval.  If they get approval, okay, but if not, their arms are long and reach their backs for pats.)

Jim worked every spare minute on refurbishing the van without my support, even installing a swivel captain’s chair so I could more comfortably face him when I read aloud as we traveled. He had a plan. I dropped the subject, but was still miffed that he didn’t clue me in.

Choosing to change:                                                                                                                     After a few days, the Lord began to speak to me about my miserable attitude. I wrote in my prayer journal. Father, I don’t want to be mad at Jim. He does nothing for personal recreation; works hard at pastoring: studying, praying, preparing sermons, visiting members and prospective members, hospitals and nursing homes, attending and leading many meetings, and is very careful with money doing his own auto and house repairs without complaint. He takes such good care of me and is so time-generous. Auto mechanics is what he does to relax, and it’s unfair to resent his recreational choice. Lord, help me to change my attitude.  

So, with God’s help, I began to sweeten my attitude. I apologized and assured Jim of my support. It wasn’t long until he called for my assistance inside the van. Nothing pleased Jim more than taking care of me and nothing pleased me more than encouraging him. A good exchange. I gradually changed my opinion regarding vans. A few years later we purchased a new customized van which carried us comfortably over many miles.  Incidentally, I’ve been driving my own smaller van ever since, appreciating sitting higher, more comfortable and lots of room, just like Jim projected. He never said, “See, I was right”, or held my stubborn resistance over my head.

Circumstantial-change:                                                                                                            Loss of job, weather-related disasters, accidents, medical problems, death--you fill in the blanks--create fears, trepidations, sacrifices and changes. A few years after my brother John’s, wife died, his daughter died, leaving seven children ages five on up. John acquired custody of his grandchildren adding their care to an already chock-full schedule of full-time college teaching, preaching regularly, counseling, marrying and burying, and everything parents do, shop, clean, cook, laundry and the yard. He chauffeured them to after-school sports practices, then attended the games and track events, cheering them on. He amusingly shared that he’d been in and out of his car 22 times one day. He’s never complained about the weighty responsibilities but only of the joy and privilege of caring for them.

Since Jim’s death a year ago, I’ve been obliged to learn many new jobs which has upped my confidence in out-side-of-comfort-zone areas of finance and house care but also blessed as family, friends, neighbors and workmen have patiently coached me. Having to depend on others absolutely leads to deeper appreciation for them as well as providing excellent practice in the virtue of humility. None of us really yearns to sign up for that, but when it falls onto our path, the result is good news.

I’ve learned that drastic changes are handled best by depending on the Lord for comfort strength wisdom and trust. When we need an attitude adjustment, God is present and seeks to work within our hearts and minds. In the aftermath of new responsibilities, others are also inspired and encouraged to trust the Lord. I look forward to your comments and stories.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10 (NIV)

For the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive…If you  seek         him  He will be found by you. I Chron. 28:9

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts  Be strong, do not fear…” Isa. 35:3-4 (NIV)

Our family has been preparing Jim’s Celebration of Life Service scheduled on April 10 at our former church building, Temple Baptist Church. Due to the pandemic restrictions, we’ve had to move the date several times. the theme--To God Be the Glory is--one of his favorite preaching subjects. It’s how he functioned at church and at home. We are looking forward to a homecoming for our former congregation, our current church, friends, neighbors and family-reunions for both sides. I want to dedicate quality time to family, so no blogs from me for a couple of weeks.