“I have decided to accept the offer in Spain,” my colleague announced. Here we go again, my heart cried. Even though I rejoiced that God had answered her prayers for direction, I still balked. After all these years will change ever get easier?
I think back to my childhood in Papua New Guinea and the classmates who came and went, the rhythm of home assignment, the moving of my belongings from home to children’s hostel every three months.
Then I consider my 12 years in Indonesia. My team and leadership configuration morphed at least 15 times until my family also returned to our passport country.
My senior worker and team mentor often commented, “The only thing constant is change.” He was right. Change and its accompanying transition continues to exist in my life up to the present.
Not too long ago, I took on more responsibilities in my role. My son got married. I rearranged my summer schedule to include an emergency debrief. And more change looms in the forecast since we’ll soon have a new director and we’re facing yet another software switch.
Some changes are enormous, some tiny, some necessary, and some forced. Change is normal. It’s so common I frequently write about it. I teach it. I encourage our new candidates to expect change. But when the “big C” happens to me (again!), I have to remind myself anew what I know to be true.
Change brings up all the feels
I’m sad about my colleague’s decision even though I know this move is perfect for her. I’m also disappointed, maybe even a tad hurt and angry. I grew accustomed to her help and expected she’d always get me out of a jam. I planned to retire before she left. She knows so much about our agency and her expertise won’t easily be replaced. We’ve spent hours crafting an efficient way to run our programs and work together. The selfish part of me wants to say, “You don’t have the right to leave me.”
But I resist the temptation to judge her motives and instead choose to bless her. I will tell her exactly what she means to me and that I am happy for her. I will acknowledge that she is brave and support her in this big step.
Loss accompanies change and must be grieved
I will dearly miss her. But not just as a colleague. Even more as a friend. Our mutual like for each other makes this a bittersweet process. I’m grateful she has shared her journey with me, asked my opinion, and told me her plans. And I know I’m not losing her forever. I will be able to consult her from a distance and chat with her virtually. But being good friends makes her departure even harder.
So I grieve. During my regular discipline of mourning, I list the many things I’ll lose—her talents, ideas, help, lunches out, movie nights, sharing life. I don’t avoid the sadness but let myself cry.
Change can also be good
With her departure, my remaining co-workers and I must get creative. We will be forced to find new (and perhaps better) ways to fulfill her responsibilities and complete our tasks. Different people will step up (even if we have to wait) bringing fresh enthusiasm and thinking.
I gain courage and hope from the previous times when something good emerged out of forced change. And I rejoice that this gifted worker will carry her skills and knowledge to another part of our organization which will benefit even more people.
My commission hasn’t changed
This change challenges me once again to review my specific God-given tasks. God led me here and he hasn’t redirected me (yet). I must rely on him to do my job going forward just as I did with my colleague at my side.
Until he moves me on, I stay present and committed to my current ministry and to those who remain with me. I make my plans all the while telling myself to be flexible and resilient. I ask God for the ability to adjust, readjust, and keep going.
God doesn’t change
The steadfastness and constancy of my God holds me firm. He stays with me even when I feel alone because my colleague is leaving. Those who surround me may change but God does not. He remains the same. No matter the setting, the scenario, or the players, he is my provider and rock.
“Patiently wait for God alone, my soul! For he is the one who gives me confidence. He alone is my protector and deliverer. He is my refuge; I will not be upended. God delivers me and exalts me; God is my strong protector and my shelter.”(Psalms 62:5–7 NET emphasis added)
What change(s) are you currently experiencing?
What feelings has this change produced?
What losses do you need to grieve?
What good thing might come from this change?
What has God asked you to do right now?
What scripture reminds you of God’s constancy?