I wrote this post about how to embrace change last summer, as we adjusted to life with a tiny new member of the family. Looking back, it was a season of drastic change. As the year unfolded, our whole world learned to embrace a “new normal,” and we are still adjusting. If you feel like any area of your life has been flipped in the past year, these words are for you.
I notice them beneath the amber shadows that come at the break of day. A thousand tiny footpaths are etched throughout the grey-brown bark of the poplar. They are like rivulets racing to the earth, pieced together by the hand of some Master Craftsman who does formative work beneath the cover of darkness.
I’m sure this is where most of the transforming work takes place: in the dark spaces where no one is looking or applauding.
We recently emerged from a dark season of quietly letting that same Craftsman carve our souls to look just a little more like his. I reflect on it often, because the stark contrast between where we were and where we now are is sometimes so shocking that it seems it might knock me off my feet.
In a matter of days, life turned upside down with such force that I literally suffered muscle spasms trying to make sense of it all. I am not naturally a woman who knows how to embrace change with grace.
One day I was lying motionless on the couch, just praying for the end of the sickness, and a week later, we were all hauled off to the local bike path with our new baby boy in hand, chasing adventure – chasing the fullest kind of life.
It was nothing short of shocking to go from that feeling of listlessness to a life so filled to the brim you can hardly sit still for a minute. It was a season of drastic change, and it was a good change, but it was still difficult.
How to Embrace Change in Life
In the aftermath of it all, I find myself reflecting on what went well when life was suddenly flipped upside down – what worked and what didn’t work at all. And if you struggle with change, maybe these truths will help you through your own transition.
Here are a few ways to do more than just survive a season of change. My prayer is that these suggestions will help you thrive when life gets flipped and seasons shift. Here are three insights on how to embrace change with grace:
1. Prioritize White-space in Your Days
White-space is time set aside without obligation. It is quiet time – time to think, settle, assess, and simply be present to your life.
It might look like turning off the radio while you drive in order to intentionally let your thoughts settle.
It might look like pulling into the far end of some vacant parking lot as you transition between work and home so that you can make the necessary mental shift from one set of demands to the next.
It might be ten minutes on the deck in the evening, a walk around the block, or five minutes locked in the bathroom while little fingers wiggle beneath the closed door.
White-space is space to settle, breathe, and be. Our brains need time to rest, and in seasons of transition, it is immensely helpful to give our minds a break. The purpose of white-space is to have no agenda whatsoever.
Most importantly, invite God into your white-space. Make it a time to rest in his presence. Open your heart to anything he wants to impress upon you, and simply rest in the awareness of his presence.
You might end up assessing your situation or sorting through something that happened throughout the course of the day, but the purpose is to give yourself space to show up without a plan and rest in the presence of the One who made you.
2. Open Your Schedule
Recognize that if life is shifting in one major area, it might not be a great time to say yes to another committee, sign up to lead the local women’s group, or commit to coach your daughter’s soccer team.
Leave some wiggle room in your life. Because you don’t know what the demands of this new season might actually look like as you live them out in your everyday moments, resist the urge to fit as much as possible into your days.
Absolutely resist the urge to hurry, to force an agenda that worked in a different season of life, or to conform everyone in your life into a mold that no longer fits.
3. Extend Grace to Yourself and to Those Closest to You
Extend grace to those who are within your direct sphere of influence, and even more, extend grace to yourself. Recognize that it is okay you’re struggling to make life flow as you adjust.
Extend grace as you lie awake at night with a spinning head. Don’t get mad at yourself for not being able to sleep. When thoughts keep you awake, rest in the presence of God, and allow the realization that you are resting in his presence to be enough.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received regarding sleeplessness is this: Your goal is not sleep; your goal is rest. Don’t get frustrated when you can’t sleep. Simply appreciate the opportunity to lie still and rest in the presence of the Lord. This kind of rest is deeply restorative.
Extend grace to yourself as you fail to effectively juggle the requirements of your days. Everyone will survive if you don’t have dinner ready on time, if you don’t meet the deadline, and if they have to fold their own laundry.
I’m always surprised when I struggle with how to embrace change in a new season. I suppose I shouldn’t be caught off guard. I consider these thoughts as the first of autumn’s crumpled chocolate-colored leaves scuttles across the deck, and a cool north wind speaks of what is to come. There is more change blowing in from the north, and I arise to meet it with grace.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on staceypardoe.com.
Featured image by Torsten Dederichs