Change is a part of life. Even for people who “hate change”, it’s unavoidable. Change occurs in varying degrees, but even the most minor of changes can take a bit of getting used to. Some change we have no control over, like when KD changed their cheese recipe or McDonald’s started charging to make a burger “like a Mac”. We just have to suck it up with those ones. Maybe grump about it a bit first, but ultimately suck it up. Some change you see coming – university graduation, moving houses or cities. These are things that have been planned for, but can still be pretty major and take some getting accustomed to. There’s good change – discovering a new drink that makes you change up your regular order, meeting a new person that you immediately hit it off with. And then there’s the change that comes out of the blue and smacks you in the face – your car completely breaking down (when the check engine light wasn’t even on!) or the loss of a loved one. Change can also be internal – maybe your surrounding circumstances have remained the same, but you are the one that has changed, as you’re learning and growing.
I’d actually be hard pressed to come up with something in life that doesn’t involve change of some sort. Change can be so heartbreaking, but it can also be uplifting and the start of something new. But whether a particular change is good or bad, there still comes an adjustment period. That’s something I wish I had known when I went through a period of major change in my life. It was all so good! I graduated from university, got a full time job, and (best of all) got married to my best friend! I was so happy...until I wasn’t. All of this amazing change led me into a very dark time (read about it more here). I didn’t understand why I was so unhappy. I wish I had known at the beginning what I know now: CHANGE IS HARD. Even positive change can leave you feeling lost. Transitioning into different life seasons and different roles can be a lot to get used to. It is okay to struggle with change. Even when you think you’re supposed to feel happy about it all, it’s okay to not feel that way.
In my period of transition, I felt like I completely lost who I was and what direction I was going. But along the way I discovered a few things that helped me find my way again and rediscover who I was. The biggest thing I had to realize was that I was still me. My roles had changed (student to worker; single to wife) but the core of who I am stayed the same. I felt everything shifting around me and was certain I must be shifting too. But the shifting sands had only distracted me from what truly matters. So, here are six things I discovered to overcome that drowning feeling that came with all my change.
1) Remember That God Never Changes
Spending time with the Lord did not come easily to me during this time. It felt forced and shallow, sometimes even downright painful. But what did bring me comfort during this time was that, even though my relationship with God felt shaky, I knew He wasn’t. At the time I was doing a devotional about prophecies in Jeremiah, and one day I read,
“The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.
The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” - Jeremiah 1:11-12 NIV
God was watching over me, and He, too, was waiting for the perfect time for His promises to be fulfilled. There are so many promises in the Bible – God loves us (Psalm 136:26), God cares for us (Philippians 4:19), He is faithful (Psalm 145:17), He will work everything for our good (Romans 8:28). Even though I couldn’t see anything happening then, I knew God was working in my life. You can trust that He is working in yours too. God is faithful and unchanginging. This is a promise we can trust.
2) Do What You Love
The problem with change is that there’s so much...change. It’s okay to go back to what you know! What do you love? What do you enjoy doing? What has brought you joy in the past? When I was struggling to know who I was and having a hard time finding joy in my days, I went back to my old hobbies that I hadn’t done in a while. I started reading novels and writing in my journal again. Slowly, these things helped bring me back to myself. So, if the things that normally bring you joy aren’t bringing you joy right now, try some old tricks. Go back to a time when you knew you were happy, when you knew who you were, and try to recreate some of that time, even just a small snippet. Maybe you have to go back to a hobby you did a year ago, maybe you have to go all the way back to childhood activities, like finger painting. Whatever works! Find what makes you happy and comfortable. It’s okay to retreat to what’s familiar for a little bit.
I can’t stress this enough. REST. Chances are with all the changes going on, you’ve also being crazy busy, going a mile a minute. Life changes often require some practical steps (making sure the right people are getting paid, signing the right forms, organizing all the things), and those things are necessary to get done, and it’s good to get them done. But it’s also probably not the end of the world if all of them don’t get done today. Take a break. Re-energize. Physical and emotional exhaustion takes such a toll. It’s okay to admit you’re tired. Take a nap.
4) Cut Things Out
No, I’m not talking about making collages. (Unless that brings you joy. See #2.) But take a look at what you’re spending your time on. What in your life is just gobbling up your time, making you unnecessarily busy and stressed? What things in your life are not life-giving? I know this is something we’ve heard a million times, but technology, man. I took a serious inventory of my time and SO MUCH of it was being spent on my phone, on social media, on Netflix. I’m not saying these things are all bad (I love a good Netflix binge with my husband), but spending so much time on these things every single day was actually being very detrimental to my mental state. I “didn’t have time” for things that were important to me, and things that could benefit me, but boy, could I scroll through Instagram. I had to lay down some serious boundaries for myself to cut down on wasted time. I don’t perfectly follow my rules all the time, but I’m getting better. And what helps even more with cutting things out, is replacing them with good things (like those things we talked about in #2)! Swap the bad for the good.
5) Spend Time With the ONE Who Knows Who You Are
Life is so much harder when you don’t know who you are. But just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean that you’re not someone. God made you and formed you. He knows exactly who you are and who He created you to be. You’re feeling lost, but you’re still you. So spend time with God. He will remind you who you are. He would just love to tell you all about how loved you are and that you are His child, that you are redeemed and whole and worthy. Maybe you’re struggling to turn to God, just like I was. Start by spending time with those around you who love you and know you. You’re not alone. Turn to your support system. They will lovingly remind you who you are, because hey, they’re sticking with you for a reason. If you’re thinking you don’t have anyone you can turn to in your life, you just give your head a shake, because my inbox is open and I’d love to chat with you!
6) Try Something New
Everything you're doing currently isn't working, all the old things aren't doing anything for you... Switch it up! If you can't find your direction in life, maybe you just need to stumble across it. Try a new activity or class - something you've never done before, something you've always wanted to try, something just for fun! I decided to start a blog! Your new thing doesn't have to be your new life purpose. It can just be something fun to get you out of that rut you're stuck in.
These six things helped me on my path out of the depths of change. My life wasn’t instantly better; it was a process. So as you implement these things, I want to remind you to BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF. This kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. Open yourself up to growth and things will start to look up.
What are some things you need to cut out of your life? What are things in your life that bring you joy? What are some things that have helped you when you’re feeling lost? Let me know in the comments down below!