Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Change is hard...but often leads to something better!

Good Morning!  I am so glad that God gives us the gift of a new day each morning and a fresh chance to do better.   Yesterday I had a really crummy, feeling crabby and irritable, kind of day, and admittedly, I let something completely out of my control nearly get the best of me and threaten my peaceful spirit. It all seems silly this morning, but yesterday, my frustration and agitation was very real. I could not control the situation, but I could have done a better job controlling my reaction to it. Fortunately, today is a new day.  Let me explain.

You may find this to be surprising, perhaps even comical, for someone who has drastically changed her life and facilitates a group of nearly 2000 members called, “We Can Change our Lives,” but I really don’t like change!  I struggle with it and I often resist it. Not internal change, in thoughts and actions over which I have control, but any physical change in surroundings. I am a creature of habit and don’t even like to move my furniture around. I lived in my house downstate for over 15 years and never changed the living room furniture around. The same is true for my current home.  Once I get things where I want them, I don’t want them moved because it causes me to be anxious and uneasy.  It’s almost as if I need my surroundings to be stable and constant after a lifetime of changes that happened “to me” without my consent or permission; things like the death of my father as a child, my mother’s remarriage when I was a teenager, her illness, my job loss, and other losses along the way. I could not control these things and I didn’t like ANY of them; but they happened anyway.  Life is like that sometimes and we have two choices: Let them bring us down, makes us bitter, destroy us…..or ‘deal with them.”  I didn’t deal with them too well at first and it took a long time to accept them as the reality of life.

I have been at my current job for about eight years, and I have now am in my 8th office.  For a girl that likes to ‘nest” and resists change in her surroundings, this is pretty traumatic.  When I was moved into my current office about six weeks ago, I had a hard time adjusting. I was irritable, on edge, and not a very happy camper, but after a few days, I began to make the space “my own” and began to adapt. Due to some internal decisions, I was moved to the office before the new furniture arrived and was told that I would need to pack things up again when the furniture arrived. Well, yesterday, the new furniture arrived. I was not given any input into the choice or arrangement of the furniture, and things have been chaotic for the past week with all my office “stuff” packed in approximately 35 boxes stacked in the corner. For the past two days I had to work without a desk, phone, or computer set-up. The others in my department were in the same boat, and some of them, actually STILL don’t have an office space set-up, so I’m fortunate in the sense that mine has arrived and I can begin the process of making the space ‘my own” again.

My furniture is very nice, high-quality items, and I should have been very happy. Instead, I was crabby, irritable, and angry because the desk is permanently attached to the wall in the far corner of the office facing the wall and preventing me from seeing out my office door. My sense of security is threatened because I can’t see out or see who is coming in if I am working at the station. I deal with the highest risk students with very serious “baggage” and issues and often deal with angry or frustrated students that I need to diffuse. Sometimes I am afraid and uncomfortable when I have to deliver bad news. I wondered why somebody didn’t ask me my opinion on the best placement of the desk for my needs; but they didn’t and it ‘is what it is.”  So, ultimately, I have two choices: deal with it and adapt or be frustrated and let it affect my spirit.  Yesterday, I let it get me down and cause me more stress than necessary. I overreacted and was frustrated all day, instead of being grateful for a job that I LOVE and provides for my needs and the new furniture that I’ve been given.   I tried my best to remind myself that I love my job and my office is simply “space” in which I work and has nothing to do with the gifts, talents, and passion I bring to the job. 

I began to get settled yesterday and will continue the process today before leaving for a business trip later this afternoon.  By this time next week, I’ll have my family photos and personal effects scattered throughout my space and I will have found a way to make things work.  I do that; first I react (not always positively)…then I realize how blessed I am and I become grateful….and then I adjust and adapt.  I don’t like change….but as the quote above says….change can, and often does, lead to something better.

In terms of my personal journey, this has been absolutely true.  Change happened….Life happened….and I didn’t like it, but in time, God made things ‘new’ again and in some cases, so much better.  I struggled as a young adolescent when my mother remarried after my biological father died. It was a very difficult time for me and yet, I was blessed with a new step-dad, Tony, who became an important person in my life for 37 years, showing me love and teaching me many things. He died over a year ago and his absence continues to be felt in my life. I was nearly destroyed with I lost my job at the church after 15 years, but had I still been employed there, my life would be completely different today. None of this new ministry…these new opportunities….this new job helping students and others…..would have been possible.  Painful, devastating, unjust, and out of my control…..Absolutely…..but out of that change has come something even better!   I was horrified when I watched my grandparent’s summer vacation place burn to the ground, but in its spot is a new place…a bigger one with a large family room where all 35 of us can share a meal together…a place that is now open year round and has become “Pip’s place” and is used by all the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren on a regular basis.  What once was able to accommodate only a few family members at a time has become the gathering place for the several generations of Brinkmeiers.  Out of the ashes…literally ashes….has come something better!

Yes, change is hard. Yes, change can make us angry and agitated. Yes, we like things the way they are….and we resist it, especially when we can’t control the changes that happen around us, but more often than not, CHANGE leads to something even better….even when at first it doesn’t seem like it.   Sometimes….like me…God knows that we would not choose to make the changes that are necessary for our growth….and so He makes them for us.  Sometimes we have to get to the point where we have NO OTHER CHOICE but to change our life.  Often times it’s a serious health scare like a heart attack or visit to the hospital. Sometimes it’s a judge or court mandated order that results in a change in behavior or lands one in a recovery group.  Sometimes it’s another person or intervention that helps us ‘see” the reality of our life, but often, it’s when we hit ‘rock-bottom”…..we find ourselves face down in the mud, wallowing in pain, depression, despair….that leads us to begin a journey to change our life.

If you are contemplating make a change; if you are longing for life to be different; if you are in the process of doing so….be assured that at first it will be difficult.  It will take time to adjust to your new lifestyle. You will have days when you are frustrated or angry. You will have days when you feel bitter and resentful, especially if you feel as if you have no choice. You will have days when you struggle and want to give up. You will have bad days when you overreact and do, say, or eat things you wish you later regret…..but like me with my office furniture….you will adjust. You will develop a taste for healthier food. You will get through the withdrawals and it will become easier.  And likely….given time….you will  be able to focus on the blessings in life and be filled with gratitude….and you will discover….that CHANGE will lead to something even better than you even imagined.   YES….change is hard work….but trust me…. IT IS SO ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT!   

I will go to work shortly and apologize to my coworkers if my agitation yesterday caused them distress and I will begin the process of unpacking my office and setting up my space, but before I do that, I will offer a prayer of gratitude to God for the blessing of employment. Later today I’ll be traveling north to an incredibly gorgeous resort right on Lake Michigan, where I’ll be staying in a luxury suite with a balcony overlooking the lake, a fireplace in my room, and a king-size bed…..accommodations way beyond my comprehension but the result of a ‘fluke” and last minute cancellations for the conference that I will attend and speak at tomorrow. My initial reservation, made and paid for by my employer, was changed just two days ago……and the result: something bigger; better; and way beyond my expectations.  This is just God’s incredible way of reminding me that, YES, change is sometimes hard and sometimes we lose something good, but more often than not we gain something even better!!!  Is God great….or what???  

Have a wonderful day today…and look for the blessings that are all around you.