The Change You Didn’t Ask For

I talk about change a lot. At least, it feels like I do. It is probably because my entire life has been about change and learning how to adjust. I’ve basically been wingin’ it since I was a child. It is probably why I fight so hard for control, despite the 20+ years of knowledge that tells me that I have absolutely zero control. 

This past year has been full of changes for my family. This past year has been full of changes for me personally. Every time I think we are in a groove, the tide changes. It is like every week has something new or changing or something. It’s been a very interesting year.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen this post where I talked about how God dropped a huge realization on me. I am living a life I prayed for. I asked God for the parts in my life that weight on my heart and god provided them. All the change I was enduring was to be given the life I was asking for. The life I’m living now is allowing me to pursue my calling and I can help provide for my family. I have time with my son and my husband that I never got before. All these things I asked for and prayed for and didn’t believe it was possible for me.

Now I am living it. My prayers were answered and all these changes have been good. While it has taken me a while to adjust and accept it. Part of me still misses the old. I’ve let it go when God made me realize that I prayed for my life that I am living. Even adjusting to change I asked for, it was hard. It was not something I woke up to and said “okay, this is my life, cool!” 

If it is hard to adjust to change that you asked for, that you wished or prayed for, do you think it is easy to adjust to change you didn’t ask for?

Absolutely not. 

Two hours after I made my instagram post about what God was doing and how He answered my prayers, my husband called me and told me things were about to change again and it wasn’t something we asked for. This change actually goes against everything we wanted. 

My husband started a new job with a new company and now he is being moved to another part of the company. This change comes with a new schedule from the one we had just adjusted to. Plus it came with a pay cut, which means we needed to readjust our budget AND figure out a way to get childcare for Little Man. 

Never have I prayed for this. In fact, with the timing, I started questioning everything I was just thankful for. I asked myself, “Did I hear God wrong?” I wondered if I was really in God’s will and all the things I was just praising Him for. This new and the change literally had me questioning everything. I felt wrong and like things couldn’t just be right for two seconds.

Then the smallest thought, the smallest voice came from my heart. “What if something better is coming?”

What. Huh?

Then I let it sit around a little bit. What if God is moving us to something better? While we are currently at a pay cut and slightly stressed about childcare, there is a plan in place with this new position. A plan that is better than our original plan with his previous position. Then, after this news on Thursday night, I spent all day Friday getting everything together to enroll Little Man into a preschool, and it all worked out. I found one we could afford, there was room, I got all the paperwork I needed from the doctor in a few hours. It all felt right. I spent the entire day running around (Little Man also had an eye exam and needed glasses) but it all worked out and I felt at peace all day.

Peace that I never feel when I am running around like that. Peace that never really happens to me. Peace that didn’t match up to my understanding.

That’s the kind of peace that God gives. The kind that doesn’t make sense. That is when I knew I was in God’s hands and I was finally letting go of control over this.

So I’m going to trust God and His Process…

Even when I don’t understand

Even when I dislike it the current situation

Even when it is hard

Even when it hurts

Even when I feel like giving up

Even when I want to quit

God has never not shown up for us. God has never abandoned us. God fulfills his promises. 

Adjusting to Change

There are thousands upon thousands of popular quotes regarding change. A lot of people try to convince everybody else that change is good. Then there are those that resist change like the plague. I fall in the middle that leans towards the resist side. I resist change because change makes me worry. Last week I wrote a devotional about worry and the number one thing that makes me worry is change. Sometimes, I believe those who resist change, are those who are content and see no reason that the change is necessary. I’m very content in my life, even in the storms. In fact, I feel like the crazier my life is or the more stressful my life is, the more at peace I am. However, this could be a conditioned response because I worry like nobody’s business when things are calm and good and normal seeming. I’m not used to calm, good and normal. 

Growing up, I was constantly surrounded by change. Divorce, terminal illness, moving, new schools, old schools, summer school, new friends, old friends, am I painting a good picture? What’s crazy to me is how I went through all that change growing up, with a constant revolving door of new information daily, and yet today, I fight against it. Today, I struggle with the adjustment. Perhaps, as a kid, I already knew there was nothing I could do so I just rolled with it. As an adult, I thought I can change all the things and if I was just ___ enough, I could change the outcome. A lot of lessons I’ve learned as an adult is from the mistakes of the adults around me growing up. Perhaps I viewed their mistakes harshly because I thought they could control all the things that were happening. They were adults! How could they not have control over the things that were happening? Now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned just how little adults have control over. I’ve learned that you make mistakes regardless of your control level or even knowledge level. The best I can do is make the best decisions with the information I know and pray that God will cover the rest. I’m sure the adults in my life were trying their best too.

That doesn’t make change any easier. I can go with the flow when I need to, but if I see change on the horizon, I’m instantly questioning why it needs to happen. Change forces me out of my comfort zone. Change takes away the control I think I have and that is probably why I resist it the most. Even though I know I have no control I have this illusion that I do. At least, I have a handle on things and things are going smoothly. Why do we need to change it up? I don’t need it to change.

I’ve said this before somewhere, but change is where you grow. Growing is a good thing, regardless of what anybody says. You don’t want to always be the same person forever, do you? I don’t. If someone came up to me today and said I was the exact same person I was when I was sixteen, I’d probably be slightly offended. Maybe even a little hurt. That would mean all the growth and work I’ve done over the past decade have done nothing and I don’t want to be the person that goes through something and doesn’t learn something from it. I don’t need to revisit the same lesson multiple times. I’m trying to nail the lesson the first time, you know?

So how do we adjust to change? How do we accept it and just allow the change to happen? For me, anytime I see change on the horizon, I start praying. I ask God for guidance and I ask for a willing heart to go with the flow. That is actually something I pray daily. I ask for guidance and the wisdom to know what I’m supposed to do when I need to do it. (Sometimes, I get really attached to my plans and still try to make every single thing happen the way I plan it.) When change is coming though, I know it is because God is allowing it. I have the freedom to trust is something bigger than myself and someone who sees the WHOLE picture. I only see the small amount of change coming and it terrifies me. God, however, sees how the change will effect me and how it will be good. God sees the endgame and the entire picture. God even sees the next round of change to bring you to the next step. 

A pastor I know once said that when you are living for God, you will live out your purpose. Every single change is helping me live my purpose. That is how I adjust to change.

What about you? How do you handle change? 

Devotional Thursdays- Worry

Worry

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

I’m not a fan on change. As much as I think I can adapt to change and I go with the flow, the truth is that I don’t. I struggle to go with the flow. Going with the flow goes against every natural instinct I have. I can adapt to change. I’m actually really good at that. However, I try to control the change, plan the change, make back up plans for the change and even have back up plans for the back up plans. I like rules, order, lists and plans. Oh gosh plans make me happy. This is why change is hard for me. You rarely get to plan change. Even if I see the change coming, I try to plan out all the details. 

All of this causes a large amount of stress and worry. What about this? How about if we tried this? How about I do this and that and maybe we can make this work? Instead, I should be praying to the author of the change and the knower of the details. While I’m stressing and trying to plan, He already knows exactly what is going to happen and when it is going to happen. I think in my plans I try to do things on my time. If you’ve been a christian for five seconds you have already heard the God works in his own timing. I seem to constantly forget that and forget that I know who to go to when I worry. I know who to talk to about my fears and worries when it comes to change. I know the author of the change and somehow still manage to make it appear as if I don’t trust him. EVEN WHEN I PRAYED FOR THE CHANGE AND HE IS MAKING IT HAPPEN. 

I wanted to emphasize that point. Even when I pray for a particular change, even when I beg God for it, when he says yes to those prayers I still try to control the following details. Details that He has already figured out. Things that he already knows. I just don’t see it in my finite brain and I try to make sure I have ALL the plans.

For example, my family is about to undergo change. A huge change. A change we have fervently prayed for and asked everybody to pray along with us for. God said yes. We got the yes today. I’ve barely been celebrating this yes and this awesome change in my family’s life. I’ve been too worried about some details because the yes looked different than we thought it would. We had to change some things. We needed a different kind of help to allow this yes into our lives. The crazy part is, as much as I spent worrying today, God already knew the answer and knew that it would work out. I just wasted time worrying about it. I wasted time during my date night. I wasted time during conversations trying to plan and back up plan. God already had the details in place and all I had to do was be still and wait. 

Instead of waiting, I worried. I stressed and wasted time. The beautiful thing about seeing all things in my life as blessings from God is that I also see how he works in the small details of my life. So I write this today, because I need this reminder as much as anybody else might. God is in the details. He created each one of us so different and unique and detailed, that I forget that power lies in our every day lives.

Write it Out

  1. Where are you worrying and need to allow God to work?
  2. How can you remind yourself of who God is?

Forgiveness

Growing up, I could hold a grudge. I could hold one like nobody’s business. I used to bank trust in the currency of promises. If someone broke a promise to me that was the end of the friendship, I did not care who you were. I even stopped talking to my mom for weeks because she broke a promise to me. 17-year-old Ashleigh thought she really knew everything. Granted, she knew a lot, but nobody really taught her about forgiveness.

I actually don’t know how I learned about forgiveness and how important it was. It probably has something to do with what happened with my mom. I didn’t talk to my mom for weeks, I dodged her calls. I refused to call her. If she was talking to my brother and asked to talk to me I said no and walked away. One weekend my mother was relentless. She called so much and asked to talk to me that I got tired of hearing the phone ring and just talked to her. Something was tugging at my heart that I was being slightly ridiculous anyway. So I talked to my mom, we talked out her promise-breaking. We talked about everything and anything. We spent the majority of that weekend talking to each other on the phone. The following Tuesday, my mom passed away. She had been sick most of my life, I already knew it was going to happen, I just didn’t know when. What if I didn’t talk to my mom that weekend? What if my mom passed and I never talked to her again and the last thing I had was me yelling at her for breaking a silly promise?

That’s the thing with holding grudges-it only hurts you. You staying mad at somebody doesn’t hurt them, they are going to keep living their life. It only hurts you because you are thinking about it over and over in your head. How many grudge holding people do you know living happy lives? I think about that time in my life, the days I could hold grudges and I was a walking oxymoron. I was getting mad at everything and snapping at anybody I could but I could always look on the positive side and I couldn’t trust anybody. I would expect people to bail on plans. I would expect them to and then get mad when they did. I was not living a happy life but I told myself I was because I’m an optimistic person and I always need to look on the bright side.

After my mom passed away, I started letting things go. I wish I could give examples of an exact switch-when I learned how to forgive someone. I still struggle with it, especially if the hurt comes from someone I love, I need to remind myself that forgiveness is important. Sometimes, I get trapped in allowing the offense or hurt swirl around in my head like it just bought a house up there. That’s when I remind myself that I forgive because I’ve been forgiven. Anything someone does to me is not worse than the sin I have daily against God. Yet, God forgives me every single time. If he can do that, I can forgive the guy who cuts me off on the freeway.

Forgiving also takes the weight off of me. I don’t want to be the person I was seven years ago, why should I be carrying around her hurts? That kind of anger takes commitment and I don’t have time for that kind of commitment. My plate is full enough, you know?

The bible tells us to forgive as the Lord forgave you. That is what I remind myself when I struggle the hardest to forgive, when I remember severe hurts from my husband that were years ago, forgive as the Lord forgave me. When I talk with God, I don’t see Him bringing up my past mistakes. I don’t need to do that to my husband or anybody else for that matter.

And if the Bible or God isn’t your thing, do you really want to have whatever happened 5 years ago sitting with you like you are old friends? Or do you want to look at each day with a smile knowing that the past is behind you and you have a future as bright as the sun?

The Comparison Game

 

There is a game we as people like to play. I call it, The Comparison Game. We always look at others and wonder why we don’t have what ”they” have. Whether it is the awesome new phone they have or the promotion they just got or maybe the house they just bought.

For me, they can be anybody. It can be the stranger at the mall that I will never see again. It could be my best friend. It could be my co-workers. It could be my boss. I’ve been comparing myself to everybody else for as long as I can remember. Mainly because I’ve always wondered why the “bad” stuff always happened to me. When my mom was diagnosed as terminal, everybody else had a healthy mom. When my parents were going through their divorce and screaming at each other in the middle of the neighborhood, everybody’s else parents kept their fights inside the house. I always wondered why life hated me. I used to make a really awful joke in high school that my life was God’s soap opera. Something for him to laugh at. The things that came up in my life I couldn’t make up if I wanted to.

I played the comparison game because I wished for an easier life. I played the comparison game because I wanted to know what I was doing wrong that I kept getting all the junk thrown at me. Why can’t I just have something be simple? Why can’t something just be easy for me? Why does everything have to be complicated?

I look at my best friends and they have it easy. What are they doing right? What can I copy so that things will be easy for me? What can I mimic that will make things easier for me? Oh, this comparison game could go for rounds and rounds because when it comes to me and my best friends, there are a lot of differences. I’m also different in body type and I’m louder and more obnoxious and all sorts of personality traits different. Outside of how I think their lives are easier.

Now, these are my best friends. So I am assuming I know most of their struggles. The truth is, I don’t. I don’t know every single struggle they go through. I know some, but not all. I know I don’t call them up for every single thing I struggle with. If I did we’d be on the phone every night because I feel like I am driving that struggle bus.

The comparison game doesn’t work. We are not meant to live the same life as someone else. My calling is not the same calling as my best friend. Her impact on the world will not be the same impact I will have. If I am comparing my life to my best friend’s life, I’m trying to figure out why my life doesn’t look like something it was never meant to look like. It’s like trying to figure out why an apple doesn’t look like an orange. They were never meant to be the same thing. My best friend was put in my life to support me, do life with me and be in my village/tribe/whatever you want to call it these days. Just like I’m supposed to support her. I’m not supposed to compare my life to hers and wonder why we don’t have identical looking lives. We’re not meant too. God didn’t make it that way. Her gifts, talents and abilities are not going to look like mine and her life isn’t going to produce the same as mine will.

We both have the same goal though. We both want to hear “my good and faithful servant” when we get back home. What we should be comparing is whether or not we are both using our talents, gifts and abilities to serve God.

If we need to be comparing anything we should be comparing whether or not our goals line up with what God is calling us to be doing. Instead of looking horizontal-out into the world, we should be looking vertical-between us and God.