by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

Change comes in countless forms. Some life-altering. Some predictable. Some we choose. Some are imposed on us. Like those that are so sudden they uproot our secure and stable routine, and send us swirling into unwanted transition.

I was heading off to college for my freshman year with great anticipation – all good. And not just any college, but the college of my dreams.

Then mid-year, something I never thought about or imagined could happen – happened. Academic suspension for one year. The result of my poor study skills and more time spent in social activities than in classes.

Devastated. Depressed. I was faced with what seemed like a hurricane of destruction to all I held dear. Forced to leave new friends and a new boyfriend. Forced to leave my new home and return to my parents’ home. Not knowing what to do with my life.

Shortly after I got the unexpected news (that I should have expected), I received an encouraging letter from my college advisor. She explained that suspend also meant to “uphold by invisible support”. I could know I was also being supported by their hopes and expectation of my return.

I searched my favorite magazines for advice on coping with change. But one suggestion I found, to hang on and ride out the storm, was not what I wanted to hear.

The idea that we must simply cope with and endure storms sent me to the Biblical account when Christ Jesus and his disciples faced a “great storm.” I read how Christ Jesus “rebuked the wind and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” (Immediately, I might add.)

Whirlwinds of self-pitying emotions were keeping me from accepting responsibility for my actions and seeing that there were solutions at hand.

These words from author Mary Baker Eddy, in a short piece entitled, Angels, helped bring me calm and clarity. “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment…..This sweet assurance is the ‘Peace, be still’ to all human fears, to suffering of every sort.”

I started affirming the peace of God as present and powerful in my life. I felt assured of a God of love who is ever-directing and guiding me to whatever I need in each moment. The storm, with self-pitying winds, was stilled. I left my past mistakes behind me and focused on present possibilities.

As my point of view changed from dread and uncertainty to confident hope and resolve, a job opportunity presented itself. One that taught me much about unselfish care for others’ needs. I enrolled in a community college where I took several remedial classes and workshops to improve my reading and writing skills.

A few months later, I returned to the college of my dreams. And before my one year suspension date. Three years later, I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree with the senior class award for “progress.”

Life-changing lessons were learned in my freshman year. Just coping with change can keep us treading water and never moving forward. But using change as a means to grow wiser and stronger, leads to progress.