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by Cliff Young
An old proverb says, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Every now and again it seems like I find myself inadvertently testing this “theory.”
“Change” can be a scary thing, although it’s frequently something we want and even demand particularly when we don’t like something about our current situation. Oftentimes we don’t even know the change we’re looking for nor prepared for it when it comes. We just wish for something to be different.
You only have to look as far as the past presidential election, the uprisings in the Middle East or even in the mirror once in awhile to find a situation where change is desired without understanding the probable outcome or the ramifications.
When we become discontent (or led to believe we are dissatisfied with what we have or disenchanted with where we’re at), we will accept almost anything (along with its own inherent problems), as long as it’s something new, even though it may be no better than we have it, sometimes even worse.
It’s easy to look at someone else’s situation and perceive it to be so much better than our own without even knowing what goes along with what we see. Author and humorist Erma Bombeck captured some of those moments in her book titled The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank. I would amend Erma’s book title with “… and we don’t know how it smells until we get over there.”
Although we try not to compare ourselves and our situation to those around us, many times it’s difficult not to. The whole premise of our billion-dollar advertising industry is meant to convince us we “need” what they have, and we’ll be out of touch and incomplete without it.
I was reading through the book of Genesis recently and re-examined the words the serpent spoke to Eve.
“Really?” he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” (Knowing full well that is not what God said). “Of course we may eat it,” the woman told him. “It’s only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat” (Gen. 3:1-3).
Eve knew the guidelines God laid out for her and Adam and accepted it, until the serpent led her to believe they were “missing out” on something and God was not being truthful with them.
Have you ever encountered a (non-malicious) “serpent” in your life who may have asked, “Aren’t you married yet?” “You’re how old, don’t you want to settle down?” “Do you want kids?” “Are you still working at that same job?”
Many times these questions are usually posed by family or friends, not made in a cruel or insensitive manner, just inquisitive or even teasingly asked, yet it still plants a seed in our heart and mind, and makes us question ourselves and our situation. Add to the fact that it may be something you’ve been struggling with and wanting for yourself, throw in the inherent pressures from society and all you want to do is scream for “Change!”
Don’t get me wrong, I am PRO-change. I’ll force myself to experience something in a fresh way, alter something in order to learn something new, or throw myself off so I can train to adapt, but there is always an underlying reason for it, not because the world expects I should or because everyone is telling me to.
Many of us miss some amazing opportunities right in front of us, fail to engage ourselves with interesting people and situations, and neglect what God has blessed us with because they don’t “fit” into what we “think” we are looking for or what others around us have led us to believe.
Many years ago, I relocated to a new city for what I thought was going to be a short stay so I decided to live as transient as possible. For a number of years I “existed,” but I never felt connected and wasn’t reaching my potential until I made the choice to immerse myself. I had to decide no matter how long or short of a time God placed me there, I was going to make the best of the situation even if I didn’t understand why.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men (Col. 3:23).
We can’t always worry about what others think we should be doing or where we should be in our life, especially by a “certain age.” We have to do what God created and called us to do, oftentimes totally different from what others around us are doing.
There are moments in our lives when we summon the courage to make choices that go against reason, against common sense and the wise counsel of people we trust. But we lean forward nonetheless because, despite all risks and rational argument, we believe that the path we are choosing is the right and best thing to do. We refuse to be bystanders, even if we do not know exactly where our actions will lead.
I read this statement in the book Onward. It was written by a man who had a dream and a passion to bring what he experienced in Italy to the United States, who didn’t allow critics to talk him out of his vision, and will forever be credited for revolutionizing America (and many other countries) in how we look at coffee.
This statement was written by Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company.
He didn’t listen to those who said it wouldn’t work, he didn’t go along with what everyone else was doing and he didn’t allow anyone to lead him away from what he believed was the best and right thing to do. Howard was able to quickly raise $3.8 million to purchase Starbucks and turned it into the third place, “a social yet personal environment between one’s house and job, where people can connect with others and reconnect with themselves,” where millions of people frequent every day.
There are times we need to have the courage to take a step out and away from what we have grown to know and accept, and other times we need to change our outlook (instead of trying to change our situation) and move forward even if we don’t know where it will lead.
Don’t just change something for change sake, have a dream, a vision, and a plan, along with God’s blessing.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Whatever “it” is that God gave you the passion and abilities for, have the courage to go against reason and common sense, and pursue it with all of your heart.
Sometimes it may mean stepping out and making a change and other times it may mean staying where you are, putting your head down and making the best of the situation because that’s where you are supposed to be.