Monday, April 30, 2018

Change

There have been a lot of big changes in my life lately. A lot. I'm living in an apartment, I have a full-time job, I have separated from my publisher, and I don't see my kids everyday like I used to. So, yeah, change has happened. Change has arrived. But change is happening in me in more than a physical sense. I've known I've been in need of internal (mental and spiritual) change for quite some time and while I had slowly been working at it, the physical changes that have occurred in the last month have thrown my internal changes into fast forward. I've gotta tell you, this is a good thing. An amazing thing. I've been longing for this and finally, it has arrived.

I don't think there is a person in the world who fully enjoys change, I mean REAL change. Change creates discomfort from what's normal to you, from what's become comfortable, from what seems to be easy. Right? Change has a way of evoking fear and in that fear, often times, we tend to lash out at others in an effort to resolve our personal discomfort. I see it in the church environment all the time.

In the last week alone I have made several amazing realizations about myself that are literally changing everything for me. Most of those realizations are not new to me, other people have told me the truth of them, yet I simply didn't "get it". They were head knowledge not partnered with heart knowledge.

For example, with my mental health struggles (depression/anxiety/PTSD), I have often times found myself in a "fit" over an incident that has upset me. Let's use disappointment, someone has made a promise to me and has gone back on it. In the moments following me meeting my hurt, I find myself feeling deeply insecure. I look at my life at large and become insecure about all of it. Am I going to get in trouble at work? Do they even like me or think I'm good at my job? Are the people in my life all just putting up with me and not really invested in me? I haven't heard from my best friend in 12 hours, is she mad at me? Oh, my kids should have a better mom, I'm such a failure in that area. In short, the disappointment I feel in one tiny area of my life becomes fear of everything in my life becoming a disappointment. And I react. I try to fix it. I try to make it stop before it's too late. In my attempt to fix things (that aren't broken, btw) I end up looking a little - nuts. I recognize this but I'm unable to stop the craziness. The nut has rolled far enough down the hill that its momentum is too much for a person of my strength to pause. This has been a pattern all my life. I feel insecure over everything, and in those moments it is REAL and TRUE and not a damned person can convince me otherwise. My therapists, my close friends have tried to tell me that I'm wrong. It's not real. It's just a feeling. I believe them in my head, but the heart just hasn't bought it.

I'm sitting here chuckling. Why? Because yesterday I finally received the heart knowledge to work on this problem in my life. I got frustrated with something - like, feeling like I needed to jump out of my skin frustrated and in an instant, everything in my life became colored with that frustration. I had plans last night to spend time with a new friend and I was really excited for it. It was supposed to be the highlight of my day, yet in my frustration over something else, my excitement left me. At once, I became insecure and got nervous about my plans. Did I still what to do it? Was I simply forcing someone into my life? Did this person even like me enough to want to spend time with me? I even thought about calling the whole thing off, just to keep my new friend from having to suffer through my company. I squinted tightly as I realized my thoughts. "Why the hell did I lose my excitement?" I asked myself. "Where did it go? What happened? What changed?"

BAM! It hit me ... only one thing had change. One thing and one thing only:

My mood.

I felt fine about everything until I got overly frustrated, that's when I became insecure about the rest of my life. I thought through it logically and finally, my heart joined the knowledge party and it all made sense. I felt like a dumb-ass to be honest. "Ohhhhh, so just because MY feelings changed, doesn't mean anyone else's changed." Duh.

If I had cancelled my plans, my new friend probably would have been super confused since they have no idea what's happening in my head. To them, there was no variable in our plans. All was well, the same as yesterday, the same as five minutes ago, so there was no need to change a thing.

Hmmm. Interesting. Now what? So, I'm feeling a grand shift, but no one else is privy to it. But my shift feels real to me. Don't I need to do something? Don't I need to fix it, make sure things are okay?

I'm chuckling again.

Nope. There's nothing to fix. Nothing has changed. All the insecurity is residing in my mood and not in the world. So, do you know what I did? I did nothing. I recognized the truth, I allowed myself to live in that frustration for a time, I distracted myself with helpful options and guess what. It passed. My excitement returned and I went on with life. Hmmm, growth. I have realized something new and embraced it. I have begun necessary change.

Lets' talk about a different kind of change for a moment though. Change as in coins. Little pieces of metal  that used to commonly be used to pay for things. I say 'used to' because not many people carry cash anymore, and loose change? Are you nuts? You can even use a credit card in most vending machines now. Change is not needed in everyday life. Coins are often discarded carelessly. I have a jar of coins, all coins I have found on the ground, and it's full. But let me ask you a question, just because people don't use them or regard them highly anymore, has their value changed?

No. A quarter is still worth twenty-five cents whether it's in a garbage can or someone's pocket. A dollar is still a dollar when it's made up of ten dimes.

I feel like society's resistance to growth and fear of change has created a lot of the problems we all have in life. In addition, it keeps us stuck in a place where we complain about the same things everyday yet do nothing to improve the issue. We enjoy comfort, even when it's having negative impacts. We like what we know and we fear the unknown. Maybe we're a little afraid of who we will become if we change. I think the biggest fear is, will embracing change make me lose my value? Well, if you have four quarters, do you still have a dollar?

Don't be afraid of the quarters and dimes, or even the pennies. Their value is what it is regardless of how the world perceives them. And our value is not rooted in this world. Who you are inside can only become more clear as you embrace change. I encourage you, if you have a thing in your life that you've known needs some work yet fear is keeping you from making change, take a baby step. Give it a go and choose to believe in your heart that your value won't be tainted.

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