By Toby DeHay
The older I get, the better I’m coming to understand the difficulty of change. We married young, didn’t have many belongings (and the ones we did have weren’t worth much, so that helped), and had children early in our marriage. So, when a change happened, we were generally okay with it.
When we moved across town, it wasn’t hard. We loaded a few trucks and called it a day. I remember getting a promotion at work which required that I move from one retail location to another. It was down the hill about 100 yards. Not bad.
We increased our family by one, and then another. These were slow and gradual changes that are somewhat normal in life. (Although becoming a parent for the first time was a shock to the system.)
This year, we experienced a type of change that was a shock to the system. All these things happened at virtually the same time:
• I transitioned out of the pastorate and into a denominational role.
• My family moved from a small, rural town to a regional city.
• Our oldest transferred colleges and moved home.
• Our youngest graduated high school and is preparing for college.
• I’m trying to finish my dissertation.
HELP!!! How do I deal with all this dramatic change at once? Here are a few reminders to help me not get overwhelmed:
Remember it’s temporary
These things will remain a struggle for a short time. Yes, a move to a new home is hard, but it will only be the “new house” for a short time. Is a dissertation tough? Yes, but I’ll be finished soon.
Knowing that struggles are temporary help us focus upon the issues that are important every day like sharing the gospel with friends and neighbors.
Don’t neglect your spiritual disciplines
This is easy to do when things are in constant upheaval. Where’s my Bible? I can’t find a quiet place to pray. We don’t have a church home yet. I need to focus on my life before I can begin to share the gospel again.
I have a friend who says, “Excuses are the nails that build the house of failure.” Making our spiritual disciplines a priority needs to be a must in times of transition.
Your spouse is vital and needs you to take time out for them
My wife knows my struggles. She lives them with me. Too many times I’m so focused on what I’m doing and what I need to do that I forget she needs me to be present.
She needs me to be present while she’s talking, taking time to go on a walk, or for me to say no to a potential meeting in the evening so we can get ice cream together.
The kids will be okay
They need encouragement, love, and guidance as they go through this time of change as well, but they’ll be fine. It’s important to remember their college schedule doesn’t have to be perfect. Mine wasn’t. They’ll make new friends. They’ll learn to get a job, navigate a new city, and serve in a new church.
The gospel is needed everywhere
Wait, this helps with being overwhelmed? Yes, because when I remember this fact, I’m not as concerned about the new deck that needs to be stained as I am about who I may encounter today and how I may witness to them.
Change is hard, but it’s a part of life. Allow God to mold and strengthen you during these difficult times, giving Him praise and glory as He does so.
TOBY DEHAY (@tobydehay) serves the Kentucky Baptist Convention as a Church Planting and Development Associate and is currently working to finish his dissertation at Midwestern. He and his wife have two children and are currently well on their way of visiting all Major League baseball parks.