I’m sitting here, typing this piece, as rain pelts the roof of our family’s camper. The sixty- and seventy-pound dogs sit at my feet, waiting for my two-year-old to drop some of her ice cream onto the floor for their treat. The two-month-old, perched in his bouncy chair, keeps angrily spitting out his pacifier, which makes him even angrier as he protests not being held. And this evening of writing comes on the heels of a very hectic, fast-paced week of other people packing, loading, and moving our household belongings; house cleaners; carpet pullers; and various conversations ending with “See ya later,” because we don’t say goodbye in the military.
Our family performs this game of change every two years. While some military families are able to “homestead” for many years at one duty station, most military families move every two to three years. It can be rough, difficult, and emotionally taxing.
Sometimes, like this current move for our family, we have no clue where we’ll be living once we arrive at our next destination; for most individuals, the change of not knowing early on where we’ll lay our heads at the end of the journey breeds an air of anxiety. However, I recognize God has never left us stranded, and some of my favorite moves have been those in which we answer the housing question with a nonchalant, “I don’t know — we’ll see when we get there!”
The military lifestyle is all about change, which can be pretty daunting at times. Yet, the one constant in this lifestyle is my faith in God, and the comfort I am able to find in the words of the Bible.
The following five Bible passages are geared to provide a little inspiration as individuals face the change which inevitably comes about in our daily lives. These are words to take to heart, and to come back to time and again, when life is in flux.
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Change is, often times, easier said than done. This particular passage reminds us that in the midst of change, there is a deeper meaning to be found. Perhaps God is trying to toughen us up. Perhaps he is trying to humble us. Perhaps His end goal is to increase our dependence on Him. Or, perhaps He is using the change to try to bring us closer to other individuals in our lives. While we, as mere mortals, struggle with asking God the why question, there is encouragement to be found in the reminder – God has a plan, and like any good father, as the ultimate Father, He has no intentions to harm us through the change. Rather, He is reminding us in Jeremiah that He remains eager that we will find the hope there is to be found in whatever situation we find ourself.
It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
Fear, sadness, and anger are all emotions. And, when we face change, we are exposed to varying degrees of many of those emotions. Even those moments of change which highlight excitement and enthusiasm have muted hues of fear, sadness, or anger. All of that is normal. However, as we are reminded in Deuteronomy, we are not alone during the change in our lives. The Lord walks with us every step of the way. Sometimes, we may feel as though we are facing the change on our own; however, as the anonymous author of the poem “Footprints” reminds us, the Lord travels not only with us, but also carries us during the most perilous times. God will not drop us, and He will lovingly, graciously be waiting for us to recognize Him in the midst of our change.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. (Psalm 91: 9-10)
Many times, when facing change in our lives, we have a tendency to dwell on the tangibles: what we can see, feel, taste, smell. However, the beauty of the Catholic Church is that it provides us, in times of uncertainty, with a unique experience which allows us to remember God is our refuge. Unlike other faith denominations which only offer church services once a week, the Catholic Church offers her faithful the ability to use our senses to remind us of our true dwelling place by offering daily Mass in most locations! In the thick quagmire of change, Mass becomes a place where we can center ourselves, and tangibly experience the reminder of our true dwelling place — in the arms of the Lord.
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
When we find ourselves facing difficult change, many times we have a tendency to complain and let everyone we come across know of our affliction. However, St. Paul serves this reminder to the Corinthians — and, to us — that what we are experiencing is, indeed, temporary. And, the change we are experiencing, no matter how tough, is molding us and preparing us for an eternal reward. We are challenged throughout the New Testament to remember that this world is fleeting and temporary, and our sights should be set on the everlasting world. Therefore, in the middle of change in our lives, our eyes should again look toward Heaven, bringing with us the reminder that ultimately change will cease and we will be joined with the saints and angels, proclaiming praise for the Most High for eternity.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Straight from our Savior’s mouth, we have a gentle reminder in the Gospel of Matthew. Anyone experiencing change is tired – whether it is physical tiredness as a family works late into the night, preparing to turn over their home, or it is an emotional exhaustion which accompanies assisting little ones in preparing for new friendships. From Jesus, we are reminded that He hears and knows of our exhaustion, and even better? He wants us to take it to Him: to allow Him to carry our burden. We are encouraged to allow our souls to rest in His tender, loving, merciful heart, and to recharge our spiritual batteries. With a spiritual recharge, the outlook on the change we are experiencing transforms us, and allows us to embrace the change with a more positive demeanor.
It could be argued that life, itself, is transient. We are all on a journey, and one which requires constant change. As Heraclitus is credited with saying, “The only constant in life is change.” At our journey’s end, there will no longer be change. We will find ourselves surrounded by others who have journeyed to the same destination, and change will cease. That destination will, hopefully, bring rest for the weary soul.
While change is something every military family is intimately familiar with, I recognize change isn’t something unique to military families. Every individual, no matter their career, lifestyle, vocation, or age, will face change. And, each individual will weather that change to their own varying degrees.
As we face the uncertainty of the change in our lives right now, it is important to embrace that change. Allow the change in our lives to bring us closer to our Creator, and to bring us into a deeper relationship with His love and mercy. Embrace the change, in order to allow us to continue our personal growth, but to also lead others closer to God. We don’t have to navigate the changes alone, but rather are called to traverse the changes in our lives with those also on the path with us. Therefore, reach out, touch the lives of others in the midst of changes, and provide some encouragement along the pathway.
And rest in the knowledge that we don’t face these changes alone.
Copyright 2018 AnnAliese Harry