Change is hard

It is actually is hard. Really hard.  Whether it is your ways, your life, or even the people around you, it is a terribly hard thing.

I have found of all the things that I have to deal with as an adult, change is one of the hardest.  Sure it can be exciting and thrilling, but it is still hard.  

We get used to things.  We get used to our routes to work, the people we see on a daily basis. Then….things change. We move, things happen, people leave, and suddenly everything is different.  Maybe not bad or terrible, but different and we suddenly have to get used to everything again.

Were we disillusioned in thinking that after all that change from high school to college (where you move every year) that after all that, everything would just settle down and be normal and predictable? Maybe we thought that we wouldn’t have to encounter hard things like this? Probably.

In reality, life turns out so much different than we think or imagine, and can be so hard at times.

Me too

I had a conversation with a student about some of my co-workers that changed jobs. (Meaning they don’t work in my school anymore.) She came to school the first day and realized that they really weren’t there. Just new people.  This young lady was upset at them.  She was acting out and complaining about not having them to talk to anymore. Most likely in her immaturity, change doesn’t always make sense, and it feels like an attack against her and her life.

The funny thing is, I can remember feeling that way.  It was a couple of weeks ago.  Things were changing and people were leaving.  It felt like the life that I was very used to suddenly wasn’t the same anymore.  A dear friend moved away, I suddenly was living by myself, people were having ALL THE BABIES, and the school year was shaping up to be VERY different. I was so depressed about it.  Like the kind of depressed that I didn’t want to leave my house for a couple of days.

Fortunately, someone affirmed something in my soul..all of these changes were a loss.  And I needed to grieve over them.  If I just pretended everything was fine, I would stuff down all the sadness and hard emotions and not deal with them.  Un-dealt with things have a tendency to come back later to haunt you, right? So I had to face these losses and start the process of moving on.

In my conversation with this young lady, I told her this.  I told her I was sad too.  I missed my friends and it is hard when people leave.  I knew that she was thinking hard about this because she asked, “When does it get easier?” What do I say, when I myself am not yet quite out of it.

I told her that there isn’t a timeline, but every day it will feel just a little better.

In this situation it gets easier to live life without these people around, but does change ever really get easier.  Probably not. Change will always be a hard thing to deal with, but what I think is that we get better at dealing with it.  We learn to emotionally process the hard things we encounter.  We lean harder on the One who doesn’t ever change.

Promises

We were never promised an easy life.  We were promised an eternal one.  Our world screams at us, that if we work hard enough, we can create an easy life for ourselves.  We start to pursue it and find that it is just an empty promise, just like many of the other promises of this world.

Sometimes I think that God allows change and other hard things to happen in my life because I become complacent.  I become lazy in my pursuit of him.  He wants to remind me that I should be dependent on him more than anything in this world.  He does this to rip away my codependent tendencies I have with the ways of this world.

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”

(Isaiah 41:13)

What a sovereign God that I serve that continues to desire for me depend on him.  He continues to draw me near to him and doesn’t let me get lost in the promises of this world. Which are enticing and seemingly good at times. He doesn’t let me stay there, he shifts something, he stirs up my life to pull me back to him.

I could get mad and angry at him, (I have and probably will again) that he lets hard things happen in my life, but He sees the big picture, he knows what is coming and he knows that more than anything I need to be leaning into him and holding on to the anchor in the midst of the storm of change.

For the better

My trainer told me once that our bodies figure out the most efficient way to move, and sometimes that means we don’t use all our muscles, then the muscles we don’t use get weak and we are prone to injury.  We have to change up what we do when we work out to use all our muscles.

Maybe our hearts and brains are like that.  Change can be good because we figure out the most efficient way to live, we become dependent on people and routines, and don’t actually live to our full potential. We sort of half live, because that is the easiest thing to do.

God knows this, he allows change to happen because he knows our hearts, he knows our weaknesses and wants to challenge us to live our lives to the fullest.

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Friend, perhaps you are staring down a big change that is happening or just happened.  You are struggling to deal, you are wanting to run away and avoid this hard thing.  I know the feeling.  I can’t always claim that I did the best to run to God, but know that the moments I did, it was better.  He sustains and helps.

How do you deal with change?  What do you do when things get hard in life?  What is change that is hard to deal with lately?

 

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#NewYearNewYou: 6 Reasons that Resolutions are Good.

This hashtag #NewYearNewYou has been floating around the interwebs.  I see it and giggle.  I think about all the new people in the gym with their new gym clothes during January or about the new calendars and journals that people are carrying around. 

So many people make resolutions every year.  I being one of them.  For many years it was “This year, I will lose weight, I will be healthier.”  Or even, “this is the year, that I will go on at least 1 date.”  (That did happen….maybe not in the best way, but I met that goal!)

It is 18 days into the new year, and some people may have abandoned their resolutions, or they have failed already. Goodness knows I have been guilty of that many times.  Perhaps like me, you might have already missed a day or two on the read the bible in a year plan!

Instead of writing about my own resolutions, because they are very idealistic and a tad repetitive. Let’s talk about why making resolutions is actually a good thing.  Because really it is important to draw a line in the sand and say, “No more, I resolve to change.”  



Many people abandon the idea of making resolutions because they want to go against the grain, but resolutions have merit. Here is my take: 

1. Resolutions require reflection.

As a teacher, especially English teacher, I reflect daily.  I reflect on my own teaching, on what the students are learning, what I am learning.  I am naturally a very self reflective person, sometimes to a fault.  Sometimes, I fall down the rabbit hole of overthinking.

However, reflection is so vital for our living.  It requires us to look back and examine what we have done well, what we could do better, maybe areas in our lives that we need help, maybe an area that we over look. 

For example, if we didn’t ever reflect on our relationships, we could spend a lot of time thinking we are treating our friends well and not be.  It is easy to ignore things and become complacent.

2. Resolutions require commitment.

My generation doesn’t like commitment, we don’t like to be tied down.  We are not our parents, we like the freedom of being able to move out of a house and find another.  We like being able to travel, we like a flexible lifestyle.  Or maybe this is just me.

When we make a resolution we are saying that we are making a commitment to something.  This sort of small practice of making commitments is good for us.  If we can commit to not drinking soda for 3 months, maybe we can commit to a job for a least a year.  Those small steps are good things.

Don’t get me wrong, making commitment in relationships is definitely different from giving up soda, but it is a small step towards the ideas of making commitments. (Perhaps it is the same practice as those who buy a pet before committing to the idea of having kids??)

3. Resolutions require actions.

For many years in my life, I was very passive about my physical health. I let life pass me by.  When I began to take my health seriously, I had to take action in buying the right sort of foods, actually going to the gym and not just talking about it. (I write more about that here!)

Resolutions, most of the time mean that we are responsible to do something or not do something.  That is an action, when we take that sort of action, other things in our lives change as a result.

When we sit back and let life happen to us, often we are unhappy with the result, angry and bitter and just whine a lot.  However, one of the greatest thing about being human is that we have the power to take action in some way.  

4. Resolutions require and result in mental strength

Something I learned as a beginning runner is that my body is more capable of what I ever thought it was.  My trainer constantly was pushing me past what I thought my limits were.  Even as I ran my 1st mile without stopping I realized that what wasn’t possible for me several months earlier was possible.  I just had to get mental stronger to get there. 

Many people say, “Oh, I don’t think I could ever do that.”  or “I definitely don’t have the self-control for that.”  Which is frustrating because they do, they actually just don’t have the desire or the drive to get there.  But when we make resolutions, we start to begin to build that mental strength required for bigger things.

This translates to other things, hard jobs, difficult relationships, struggles in life. We have to have the mental ability to push through the mental roadblocks and keep going, because we don’t know our own strength.

Ultimately, I was able to run a half-marathon. It meant that a lot of times when I thought I would have to stop, the mental strength carried me through.  That ability to say, “Nope, gotta keep going.”

5. Resolutions ultimately mean that it is possible to change.

When you are stuck in a rut, you need to know there is hope for change.  When we are stuck in hard situations, we need to know that it is possible for things to be different.  We need hope. 

If we believe what the bible says we know that God ultimately gives us a picture of why resolutions can be significant.  He didn’t leave us in our sin, he provided a way to freedom.

He provided a hope and an answer.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”(2 Cor. 5:17  ESV)

Even in the old testament God promised not to leave us as we were: 

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 ESV)

Every day I thank God that he hasn’t given up on me.  Thank goodness that God isn’t finished with us yet! Thank goodness he hasn’t left us here, but is continually working to transform our hearts and minds.  

Friends, let us look to Him to ultimately make a change in our hearts, because we are not without hope.

What resolutions have you made?  Have you given up yet?  What stops you from continuing?  Where have you given up hope?

photo credit: miss604 via photopin cc

6 Truths about Change

For a long time, I used to fear change. (No not the dimes and pennies, I love those!)

No, I feared the way everything could suddenly be different than it was before.  I love to be able to count on things happening when they were supposed to happen, people to be the way they have always been. (You could probably attribute this to my excessive need for control and my idea that my way was right all the time.

This past year, I tried to fight it, I tried to hold on tightly to the things that were changing.  I ended up being bitter, angry and sad for much of the year.   
I ended up being worried that I had done something wrong with all the change. I was anxious and worried that I had somehow messed up my life plan.  



While processing all that has changed, I thought about some of these simple truths about change.  

1. It adds up.- The small things can suddenly be big.
In the 5 years that I have spent as a teacher in a public school, I have to had face change 5 times.  Every year is something different.  Every year we have new teachers, new policies and procedures.  Every year, I have something totally new to do in my classroom.
Sometimes all these little changes can get extremely overwhelming and exhausting, because learning new things is not easy.  It is hard, it requires work and dedication. It requires being uncomfortable for a short time or even a long period of time. Perhaps it means you have to step outside your comfort zone, embracing something you don’t initially like or understand.
However, sometimes…..sometimes those little things can add up to something good.  Like for instance, when I made little changes to my eating habits and physical activity and lost 90 lbs.
Then suddenly you realize one day that you/life/relationships are different than they were before. And you are thankful!
2. It always seems to happen at once.(Am I right, or am I right?)
Last year, I had a lot of changes coming up in the new year.  Not only in work but personally.  I was moving, living with more people.  I had to establish new routes to work, new running trails, new rhythms.  And I did it about the same time as the beginning of school. Last year, was a hard year, for many reasons, but mostly because of all the change all at once.  
Once the season of change passes, you are able to breath again, and look at things from a different perspective. Many times some of those changes are good ones, and when things slow down you can enjoy them.  In the end, you come out the other side different, changed, usually for the better.
3. The big ones hurt the most.  
Sort of like if you threw a handful of actual change (cents) at someone, the quarters would probably hurt the most.
Seriously though, the big changes (marriage, kids, moving, new jobs, loss of jobs) always seem to throw you like a giant wave crashing on you.  You don’t know if you will survive.  These are the ones that seem to shift your life course dramatically.  In these times you might begin to question and wrestle and even doubt your life choices.
The moving part of me was my big thing.  I got hung up on this change, suddenly it felt like moving into a house with 3 other single women was a giant step back from where I wanted to be. This sent me into a tail spin of questioning and doubting and rethinking what was next for me. 
The blessing that I didn’t forsee is that I did begin to rethink and question what was next for me.  I began to dream different dreams and uncover hopes I didn’t know I had. 
4. It won’t destroy you. 
Oh you think it will.  You think that this change, will be your death.  Many times, I dramatically would exclaim to my mother that my life was over, because this and this had changed.  
For example, when I was overwhelmed with graduating college and moving on, I was sad to leave my community of friends.  
“You will make new friends.” She would say.
“I…don’t…want….new friends!” I would sob into the phone.

But she was right. (I would never admit that.) I did make new friends, and dig into my old friendships in deeper ways.  
Much like how God promises to refine us by fire, to prune us so that we may grow. (Ps 66:10-12; John 15:1-6) But it is all so that He can make room for something else, whether that be so we bear fruit or to live in a place of abundance.
 
5. You need an anchor.
Much like a ship, when times of trouble are rolling in, you need an anchor.  You need something to keep you grounded, from drifting off course. 
Change sometimes can tap into our deepest fears, can cause more anxiety.  We want security and comfort, change threatens both of those things. So much like a ship in a storm, we need to rely on our anchor to remind of our true security and comfort.  
“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul,” – Hebrews 6:19
When change is whipping you around like the winds of a storm, remember the one who is your anchor of hope that doesn’t change.  He is our constant, our comfort, our security. 
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

6. Sometimes you just have to roll with it.
I have a wonderful, beautiful friend, who I admire greatly because she takes many changes in stride.  Something unexpected happens, she just rolls with it. She walks in grace for herself and the situation.  “It’s life.”- she says. 
(I imagine that is one of those qualities I skipped over in my frenemy Proverbs 31) 
We have to be able to sometimes just jump on a surfboard and ride the waves of change.  We have to see where it takes us and choose excitement  instead of fighting it.  (Now, I am sure that is in a surfers instruction manual somewhere!)

What about change is hardest for you? Do you roll with it or fight it? Or do you have anthem or motto that gets you through?
photo credit: Tom Gill. via photopin cc
photo credit: AGrinberg via photopin cc

Moving Forward in the Wilderness

“I keep thinking, if I could just get back to where I was with God a few years ago. But, I don’t think that is possible.  I need to move forward and find a better place to be.”

She said it somewhat off hand in the middle of a conversation about a million other things.  However, it struck a chord in my heart.

Most of this year, I have been thinking and perhaps saying the same thing.
If I could just get back down to that weight.
If I could just go back to that point in my relationship with God.
If I could just have those moments with my friends back.
If I could have that group of students back, then maybe I would love teaching again.

I have been trying to solve this mystery all year, getting back to where I was. 
I tried using the same tricks, doing the same things, spinning my wheels in a sense.

Her comment though, was actually a break through for me.  The moment when I realized that I was very much living in the past, living in the memories and not living in the moment or living for the future. 

Isaiah 43:18-19
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. “

As I read that verse, it causes me to shake in my boots a little.  It is so easy to let fear tell us that the future is something to be afraid of.  If we are trusting our Father, our Creator, the one who holds the universe in his hands, we shouldn’t be afraid, right? 

Right.  We shouldn’t be afraid.  We should rejoice and look to the future with hope. We can’t look back and hope to go back to the safe and the comfortable. 

Even in the midst of a desert, the wilderness of the unknown, he can and will make a way. 
 We may not be able to plan it or know exactly what is to come, but we can expect him to act.

I don’t know about you, but that water to my dry and thirsty soul. I want to etch this verse on my soul, so that I am continually reminded that God doesn’t want us to live in fear of his plan, but in joyful anticipation. 

I can move forward with hope because I am cared for by the one who loves me the most and knows me the best.

What prevents you from moving forward?  Fear? Or something else?  

I ran today

Today, I ran for those who couldn’t finish a race that they trained hard for.

I ran for those that finished only to met with terror and tragedy.

I ran for those moms, dads, friends, co-workers, loved ones, and even children that come out to cheer us on, make signs, hold water, and act like fools to get our attention.

But also, I ran for those that train and discipline and sacrifice to push their bodies and minds past their own and others limitations.
 
I ran against the fear and anger that limit us, trap us and paralyze us. 

I ran against the voice that says I will never reach my goal or accomplish anything.

I ran against the voice that says it doesn’t matter if I run or not.

I ran against the voice that calls me ugly and gross.

I ran against the laziness and exhaustion.

I ran because I watched 7th graders conquer their stage fright and sing loud.

I ran because it was a bad day/week.

I ran because I had too much chocolate and it didn’t really make me feel better.

I ran because I don’t own a punching bag.

I ran because I didn’t want to talk about it.

I ran because God put air in my lungs and gave legs that work.

I ran because I can.

I ran today and I will run tomorrow and the next and the next.

I resolve….

Resolve: to reach a firm decision about,
a resolve: Firm determination to do something.

This definition sums up my mindset about resolutions.  Making a decision and sticking to it.

Yes, this post is about a month old, considering that some have already given up on their New Year’s Resolutions.  However, there are still 11 months left in the year and still time to change!

I didn’t tell a lot of people (aka…internet people).  Most of my friends knew about this, but at the beginning of last year, I made a resolution that scared me.  

In 2012, I resolved to put myself out there and go on at least 1 date. (Not with my girlfriends, my roommate, family member or Jesus. But a male human that might have some romantic interest in me!)


EEK!  For a girl who has never dated, this made want to hide a closet for the whole year.  But I didn’t hide.  I put myself out there and go on a few dates I did! 

All this to say…I have been thinking about my resolutions for this new year.  Last year, I resolved to say YES to new things and stretch myself.  Oh goodness, it was quite the year! Making resolutions that stretch you and scare you make it that much more satisfying when you meet them or accomplish them.

So the question is, how in the world am I going to top 2012?? (This is where saying YES gets you!)

Oh, I am sure that 2013 is going to be another banner year in the life of Larissa, but it’s all about my mindset! So after pondering this for a month, this is what I have resolved!

My resolves for 2013!
I resolve to….love people better
(I want to be more invested in friendship and love them in ways they feel loved not just the way that is easiest for me to love them.)
I resolve to….smile more!
(Not a fake, plastered smile, but one that shows the deep abiding joy I have!)
I resolve to….enjoy food. 
(Food and I have a love/hate relationship. I love to eat, but hate when I eat too much of it or the wrong types of food!  This one might be more about finding a balance.) 
I resolve to….ask for help when I need it.
(In my pride, I so easily want to just do everything on my own, but I don’t live on an island)
I resolve to….rejoice and mourn with others.
(I want to be able to be fully present in others lives.)
 
I resolve to….be more creative. 
(I miss my days of painting, making cards, and being crafty! Those are the soul filling activities I long to go back to!)
I resolve to….finish things. 
(It has been pointed out to me that finishing things might be a problem for me. I am sure all the unfinished books on my book case might agree with this.)

Did you make resolutions this year?  How are they going?  Do you need to re-resolve a month in?  




In the darkness

Romans 5:8
…..but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He loved us in our darkness.

Wow, those words have a way of striking at my heart.   

For so all I want is to have someone love me for all the good and bad
….not just for who I am in pictures or who I am on the first date!   

I want to know that if they find out about the rest of me that they will still want to be in my life. 

I think for so many years I was so afraid of people really finding out what a horrible sinner and friend that I was….
…that I hid…I hid behind good things.
I hid behind words and smiles and good deeds.  
I hid behind hard work and generosity.   
I hid behind anger and frustration.   
I hid behind friends.   

Slowly my sin started to creep up and I couldn’t hide it anymore.  

I let it out, I talked about it, I let others in.   

I started to be real and honest, not just before other people always but before God.  

I let him in, I let him transform my heart and mind and soul.  I know with every fiber of my being that I am His.

I know that there is no one, nothing, no circumstance that can take that away. 


I let Him into my darkness to bring me into the light.

Now, the battle is to NOT go back to the darkness when I am afraid or ashamed or guilty, but to continue in the light.