More than once, I’ve told Kristen Strong she’s the world’s most encouraging woman. She’s a tender-hearted, Jesus loving sister who has lived through enough change to answer a question many of us have asked: How do we quiet the simmering stress that difficult change brings, especially when our circumstances aren’t going to calm down anytime soon? As a longtime military wife, mom to three older children, and vulnerable friend, she assures us that God is using our difficult change for us, not against us. Her devotional, When Change Finds You, will help you see your hard and heavy life change in a new, hopeful light. It’s a grace to welcome Kristen to the farm’s front porch today. . .
Do you know what happens when your twin sons leave for college, their little sister has a Texas-sized hole in her heart because of it, and really, your whole house feels positively cavernous without two-thirds of your children within its walls?
Your husband and daughter talk you into getting a new puppy, that’s what happens.
Now, you may have serious reservations about adding another four-legged creature into your family. You may have thought now wasn’t the best time since, oh I don’t know, your sons left for college ten minutes ago.
You may think you need just a minute to actually miss them before bringing something new into your life. But you don’t say these things out loud. Then your daughter finds a cute puppy from a rescue and she sweet-talks her dad into getting said puppy, and you don’t have the energy to fight that kind of megawatt excitement.
So, your family gets the puppy, the same older puppy the rescue told you was “80 percent potty trained.” And then the first morning your puppy is under your roof, he decides to relieve himself on the rug you purchased only a month ago.
The next several days confirm what you already suspected: this puppy is 100 percent not anywhere in the vicinity of 80 percent potty trained.
You realize too that no matter how often you’re told you won’t have to care for him (the biggest lie told to mothers since Cain and Abel first asked Eve for a pet), you’re the one who gets to train the puppy because you work from home. And when he pees yet again on your new dining room rug, you lose your ever-lovin’ mind and consider running up Pikes Peak, screaming like a wild banshee.
Instead, you once again call the carpet cleaning guy who, thanks to this puppy, is funding his child’s college education courtesy of you and your thinning wallet.
Certainly, a new puppy wasn’t the most life-altering change I was going through. However, this loss of time and resources piled upon the bigger loss of missing my boys, and I wasn’t handling it very well.
“Every single change that comes into our lives brings losses, and it’s right and good to lament the losses by naming them and giving them space at the table.”
Every single change that comes into our lives brings losses, and it’s right and good to lament the losses by naming them and giving them space at the table.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t really done that. Instead, I shoved them to the side right alongside my reservations about getting a dog in the first place.
During this season, the Lord brought me to a garden-fresh awareness of a passage of Scripture I’d never considered before:
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. (John 5:2–4 NKJV)
It’s fascinating to read that, for someone to be healed, the waters had to first be stirred up. Not only that, but those who entered into the stirred-up waters only did so because they had faith the healing would come.
There is something about things being stirred up that leads to a healing.
And isn’t change what often stirs things up?
“There is something about things being stirred up that leads to a healing. And isn’t change what often stirs things up?”
When change shakes the calm right out of our life, healing can come when we step into the change rather than stay away from it. And it seems that in an effort to step into it, a good place to start is to name the losses change brings.
So, in the spirit of naming my own losses, I had an honest tete-a-tete with my husband, David. I acknowledged to him later what I should’ve acknowledged earlier: I was struggling more than he knew with the boys’ absence. What’s more, I resented adding a dog to the family as it added more change on top of an already transitional season.
Thankfully, David validated my feelings, and he and Faith came up with a schedule that took some pressure off me during the day. Slowly but surely, I became thankful for the puppy’s presence, which went a long way toward helping our daughter through a difficult time.
“Lament acknowledges your honest feelings while also acknowledging the goodness of God.”
I’m still getting used to the loss of parenting three kids full-time at home. But I’m also getting used to naming those losses as they come—and therefore acknowledging this change too.
Whatever the scope of your change, Jesus takes it personally when that change brings you loss.
Go ahead and step into the change by lamenting the loss, because the lament acknowledges your honest feelings while also acknowledging the goodness of God.
And stepping into the change brings you one step closer to accepting it.
This change may feel like the end of things, but God will see you through it.
Then you’ll be able to look at the view in front of you and realize that change is not the end.
God’s grace and goodness are.
Kristen Strong, author of When Change Finds You and other books too, writes as a friend helping you discover a more hopeful view of the difficult change in your life. She and her USAF veteran husband, David, have three beloved older kiddos. Together, this military family zigzagged across the country (and one ocean) several times before settling in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In her latest book, Kristen offers a comforting place for you to acknowledge your change, give your anxieties over to God, and abide well in the days to come—no matter what transitions life brings.
When Change Finds You is a 31-day devotional including thoughtful, humorous stories and powerful prayers that will not only help you exchange your anxiety over difficult change for God’s assurances, but it will also help you think and feel differently about change on the inside so you can live and love differently through change on the outside.
[ Our humble thanks to Revell for their partnership in today’s devotion ]