How to Cope with Change

3 tips for facing life’s twists and turns
How to Cope with Change
Image: HSDYL / SHUTTERSTOCK

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about my upcoming career transition. “Has it been uncomfortable?” she asked.

“Hmm, kind of like wearing sandpaper underwear,” I said.

After four years as CEO at MOPS International (which stands for Mothers of Preschoolers), I’m making a change in order to do ministry in partnership with my husband and another organization.

My time at MOPS has been such an incredible privilege, and I will forever be a raving fan of the transformational impact MOPS can have on a young mom’s life. So why the change?

I bet you have felt these same inner urgings at different times in your life. God is whispering something. You feel it deep in your heart, and you know there’s new coming. It’s a bittersweet ending mingled with the exciting undercurrent of next. It’s change.

Here’s something else I bet you have felt: the uncomfortable space in between, the moments of second guessing and questioning. God am I hearing you right?

I know there are people who love the very thought of change and run toward it with open arms, as if to a friend they haven’t seen in a while. I am not one of them. I read my favorite books over and over again. I order the same foods at my favorite restaurant. I love to watch movies so many times that I can recite the lines. Why? Because I find comfort in the predictable. I like to know what’s coming and how it will turn out. Some people would say that’s boring—I prefer the word familiar. This is why, for me, change is downright itchy.

Here’s what I know: God is a lot more concerned about my wholehearted obedience than he is about my comfort. He wants my devoted trust and my dependence to be on him, not on my comfortable surroundings. It’s in the moments of discombobulated uncertainty that I hold his hand a little tighter and lean in a bit closer. It’s in these moments that God has taught me a few things about change.

1. God Always Has a Next

We see it all around us. Each day ends as the sun gently sets, and a new day soon dawns. Friends move away, and new ones come. Our babies become children who become teenagers who become adults who have children of their own. We step into a ministry, and then, in God’s timing, he opens a new door.

We can know this in our head, but when change comes, even change we initiate ourselves, it can cause an angsty fear to rise up. It has been helpful to remind myself that change is God’s idea, he orchestrates it, and it never takes him by surprise. Since he doesn’t fear it, neither should I.

This has also been helpful in the moments when I’ve felt stuck. God is always on the move, though many times it’s invisible to me. He doesn’t forget us and never leaves us stranded, whether we are anxious for something to change or feel nervous because it has. In the itchy moments, I think about the God who made me and loves me more than anyone else, standing in the middle of a stormy sea reaching out with his hand to Peter as he tried to walk on the water by himself. In change, God’s hand is reaching out to me as well.

2. Change Is Good, But It’s Not Easy

In my humanness I reason that if God is leading me to do something, then it should be a smooth ride. Unfortunately, that’s not always so. Leaving something that you love because God has called you to something new takes courage. I’m learning that courage has to be developed like a muscle, and this doesn’t happen on its own. God expects me to do my part, and that involves not only taking the first scary step but also trusting him with each step after that.

Prayer, the Word, and wise friends play a key role here. They help to remind me that while God is there every moment, he also provides mentors and friends and family for me to lean on. If you are in the midst of change and it’s hard, that doesn’t mean the change is bad. Change is usually hard. But it’s in the hard where God shows up.

3. People Are Going to Think What They Will

I’ve come to realize that I’m a people pleaser. I like it when everyone is happy, especially when they are happy with me, but this attitude often flies in the face of change.

Not everyone will understand why you are making a change, and they will speak freely as to why you shouldn’t. They may also make assumptions about your reasons for change and come to a faulty conclusion.

I’m slowly accepting that what others think is out of my control. Reminding myself that I’m playing for an unseen audience of One helps me stick to my resolve. God is leading me. I can trust him. What other people think can’t change this.

So how about you? Is there a change that God is putting on your heart, yet you feel paralyzed? Are you in the middle of a change and wonder where God is in the midst of it? Let his words soothe your heart: “I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15).

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

Sherry Surratt

Sherry Surratt is the Director of Parenting Strategy for Orange Family Ministry. She is the former CEO of MOPS International and the author of several books, including Brave Mom, Beautiful Mess, and Just Lead. You can connect with her online at SherrySurratt.com or follow her on Twitter at @SherrySurratt.

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