WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
In turbulent times, we find ourselves at crossroads in life. Maybe we’ve lost a job, a home, a spouse, a parent, or maybe our spouse is retiring, or we’re facing that empty nest for the first time. Whatever the cause, we’ve lost the ability to continue on our familiar path. Change has run us down, and though we might like to deny it, it’s here, it’s not going away, and we can’t outrun it, ignore it, or refuse to face it.
Change is persistent and, at times, merciless—particularly when we’ve worked hard to get our lives just as we want them. It took time to get our priorities in order and we like that order. We don’t want this change. We like our lives and we want them to stay the same.
We resent this. But no matter how much we resent it, sooner or later we have to accept that everything has its season and the season for life as we knew it is over. We’re in a new season now, and welcome or not, it’s here.
Grasping that, seeds of thoughts creep in. Maybe there are a few things we wouldn’t mind being a little different, though we haven’t wanted them enough to do anything about them. Coasting along has been nice—maybe even a time to catch our breaths from the last life overhaul we didn’t want and wasn’t welcome but we had to endure.
Or maybe we were taking little steps toward those different things, but we were moving slowly toward them. We didn’t want a big shift all at once, and we certainly wanted to avoid upheaveal, so we didn’t dream of tackling them all at once. Now we no longer have that choice. New days are here and we’re in them.
But most often, we’re strolling along, enjoying the life we’ve built, and the next thing we know, we’ve been buried by a mudslide. We have to deal with change right now or be smothered by it.
Denial doesn’t work. Refusing to accept our revised position doesn’t work. No matter how hard we fight it, nothing that lets us stroll along again works. Eventually we accept that to ever draw a deep breath again, we’ve got to get out of the mud. We’ve got to cope and adjust to our new circumstance.
Usually we arrive at that conclusion through a series of small incremental steps. We try stretching a toe to see if that alters things enough that no further changes are required. If the change is a mudpuddle, slight adjustments work. But if we’ve suffered a deluge, and we’re buried under a mudslide, change insists we forget the toe-dipping business. We’re in up to our necks and our lungs have no room to expand. Deep breaths are not possible in these circumstances.
The sooner we realize and accept that, the sooner we can begin planning our new reality in ways that get us out of the mud. Ways that wash off the dirt and foster and nurture those things most important to us, making room for the things that come with the change.
Whatever the change is anxiety usually comes with it. That’s common. This anxiety stems from our discomfort with the unknown. How will these changes impact my life? What will I be forced to give up? Will the impact on things I love be great or small? For how long? Will I like my post-change life?
These are not small questions and they are angst producing. Yet we can minimize the angst by attitude toward the change.
Change isn’t a bad thing. Even when we love our lives exactly as they are, change can be a good thing. Something to remember is that stagnant things die and change creates space for something new, something different that we might fear but come to love.
Look at your life like a closet. When you first get that closet, you have space in it. You winnow down your shoe collection to fit into the space allotted for shoes. You, in a real sense, adjust to fit the space you have. You weed out the old and worn, the out of style, the “I’ve worn this so much I’m sick of it.” You weed out the things you relate to unhappy or unpleasant experiences. “I wore that the day xyz happened. I never want to wear it again. I don’t even want to see it again!” You adjust and before you know it, you fill the space.
Then comes the time when your closet becomes crowded and only with a hip to the door can you shove the door closed. Not one more thing will fit inside. You promise yourself that you won’t buy another thing—not one—not without getting rid of something first.
Then you see this fabulous pair of shoes and a little red dress that will be perfect for that special dinner. You buy both and go home and go through the closet to make room. You decide what to keep and what to toss out. And you do make room.
Actually, you see things in that closet you haven’t worn in a couple years. Ones too small that you’ve promised yourself you’re going to get back into as soon as you lose that ten pounds. Ones too large that you’ve held onto in case you gain that ten pounds back. Ones you wore to this or that event that hold fond memories. Memories you recall every time you see that outfit. Being strong, you let go now, realizing the memories are in your head and heart not in the fabric. You clean out the clutter.
And now you’ve got recovered space. All kinds of room.
Then the process begins again, with you refilling the closet until the next time it’s stuffed and it takes a hip shove to close the door.
Life is like a closet. We fill our lives, we cull things from them that no longer fit, that we no longer need or want, that don’t fit with our image of the person we are now. You see, we are not the person we were—we change often in small ways that add up—we are the person we become. And we become new often because we change often.
Now if we view the change in our life as loss—and that’s normal to do in turbulent times—and we work through that grief or season of mourning (yes, we can mourn an empty nest, losing a job, moving to a new city), and assign it to its rightful place, then we can look forward. The moment we’re ready to do that and we start looking forward, we have space in our lives for new things.
New can be good. A new job might put us in a position to achieve things our old job never could. New can be exciting, interesting, intriguing—an anventure. It can fire our imaginations, cause us to stretch and reach higher than we dreamed we ever would.
Change fosters dreams . . . when we address it with a constructive mindset. And that’s the purpose of this post.
Life is like a closet. Every now and then things happen and we search the closet and see much in it no longer fits or is something we no longer want or need. We make room for new things.
So when you reach a point in your life where you’re hip shoving the closet door and it still won’t close, don’t despair. It might be hard, you might hurt, but change is upon you. You can fight it and lose, or sift through and clear out that which no longer serves you, making room for new things that will serve you. Attitude is everything. Love or hate it, change comes, and will come again and again throughout life. Dread it and you’ll endure anxiety. Embrace it and you’ll embark on a new adventure.