Change is in the air

by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

Change is the word of the day or perhaps even the year. But change what, why and how?

Change for the mere sake of change can be meaningless and sometimes destructive. Without a defined purpose, change is a hollow word. One definition of change means to become different. It doesn’t specify whether the difference will be for better or worse.

This is probably why some say beware of change simply for the sake of change. Although too much change can be pointless or even dangerous, too little change results in stagnation, idleness, and laziness. Both usually lack reason and vision.

For many, a new year includes new beginnings, and a new beginning often requires a change of some sort. A change is usually needed to not repeat past mistakes. But perhaps a new beginning is not so much a call for a change as it is a call for correction, progress, growth, improvement, reform.

A change in one’s point of view is usually required in order to gain a new outlook. And a new perspective promises to result in fresh ideas, unforeseen opportunities, exciting inspirations and bold revelations.

Some folks caution, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But I for one have often welcomed the idea of change and making changes. Before I met my husband, my life had long been filled with changes.

My mom and I moved frequently, so there wasn’t one location or house I thought of as home. Home was wherever my mom was. Every time we moved, we cleaned out and disposed of any unnecessary or unwanted items to make room for the new. My mom said this helped us rid ourselves of clutter and make the most of our new space. So our many changes in where we lived helped us to be more productive, efficient and creative.

Regardless of where we were living or how long we had lived there, my New Year tradition included rearranging and redecorating my room. There were usually new items received at Christmas to find a place for. So I enjoyed cleaning out my room and also rearranging the furniture and changing the wall décor, too.

Was it absolutely necessary that I make all the changes to my room each year? Probably not. But somehow making the changes was invigorating and encouraged my high anticipation for a New Year filled with new experiences and discoveries.

Although I have lived with my husband in the same house for 28 years now, I have still continued my New Year tradition, even if only in small ways. To make room for Christmas decorations each year requires that I pack up and store various home décor. So my fun begins when packing up Christmas decorations. As I unpack all my stored home décor, I rearrange where I place items, finding new ways to use old things. It’s always amazing to me how making simple changes can make the old feel new again.

For me, change has been more of a good thing rather than bad. This is not to say I’ve not experienced difficult changes that required challenging adjustments. Deaths of family members and friends as well as moves that involved separation from good friends or family were not easy changes. And there have been times when I was forced to change schools or a job before I wanted to.

My life experiences have convinced me, however, that when one door closes, another opens. I believe God is always with us guiding and moving us forward. And God provides comfort and encouragement as well as infinite opportunities and possibilities. There are always new discoveries to be made and growth to be experienced.

Remember this, my friends, when you are faced with changes. You may discover that it’s often your own perspective which keeps you from seeing an open door. And you may find a change in direction can lead you to the perfect occasion, the right set of circumstances or a golden opportunity.

When change is not the change you want

by Annette Bridges. ©2008. All rights reserved.

Change is in the air. The cooler temperatures that autumn has been bringing lately have been a welcome relief from the hot Texas summer. But more pleasant days are the only changes I am welcoming this fall.This year’s Presidential campaigns have been filled with promises of change. The problem with this change is that I’m uncertain if who I want to be the next President of the United States will indeed be so. Whether I have cast my vote for a Democrat or Republican, I have cast a losing vote more often than a winning one. Of course, there is not yet a clear indication of who will indeed win this year’s election, since polls are still predicting a close race.

Speaking of polls — are you like me and wonder if you will ever get to be one of the 1,000 Americans who are given the power to speak on behalf of the rest of us? I’ve always questioned whether or not the few voices in a poll were truly capable of speaking for the other 300 million Americans. And for that reason, I continue to be amazed at how much credence is given to polling results.

Psychologists call it the bandwagon effect. You may have heard the phrase, “jumping on the bandwagon,” which is the observation that people often do and believe things because many other people do and believe the same things — regardless of any underlying evidence. And countless research studies have proven the bandwagon effect occurs in voting.

Perhaps this is why new poll results are published daily. Evidence has long proven that some people vote for those candidates or parties who are likely to succeed (or are proclaimed to succeed by the media). Since research evidence affirms that shifts in opinions can occur because individuals draw inferences from the decisions of others, I suspect we will continue to hear and read about polling results — however disproportionate and inconclusive they really are.

But a change of president for our country is not the only change I’m anxious about. Ill health, marriage troubles, career moves and relocation dominate the scene among my family members and propose many changes I’m not looking forward to. And my own age and dissatisfaction with past career and education choices has me indecisive about making future changes myself. Overall — at this moment — change just doesn’t feel like a good thing in my life. Or the anticipation of change fills me with more dread than expectation of good.

And yet remembering past examples of God’s sustaining care brings me to the conclusion that my best solution lies in the affirmation and guiding principle for many Americans — “In God we trust.”

My trust in God grows out of the fact that God doesn’t change. God doesn’t come and go. God isn’t sometimes available and sometimes not. God is good – always. God loves His children – always. God cares about His children and always wants what is best. His guidance will never fail us.

Sometimes change is needed and wanted. Other times change appears to be anything but good. But the only thing I am certain of is that regardless of the circumstances or even the outcome of an election, we can trust in God to lead us and our leaders to better times, to healing solutions, to restored confidence and renewed hopes — to progress.

Perhaps the Psalmist offered us the best assurance when he wrote, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. (Psalms 139)

I’ll be trusting in this promise as I head into unchartered territory this fall. If you are facing changes you’re unsure about, I hope you can also find peace of mind and encouragement in knowing that God is there for you. You are not alone. You can depend upon God’s presence and help. And His promise of good is one thing you can always count on.

The changing face of change

by Annette Bridges. © 2007. All rights reserved.

Many people who know my daughter have asked me how she is handling life as a military spouse. My daughter has long been a planner and has not always responded well to an idea that required her to change her plans suddenly.

Three years ago she married a young man six days before he began his Air Force career. And since that time, her life has been full of many changes. Some expected. And some not.

This past fall was our son-in-law’s first deployment overseas at which time our daughter came home to stay with us. It was difficult not to have him home during the holidays, but we waited till he came back in late January to celebrate Christmas. And it was well worth the wait!

I admit at first it was hard to consider changing our traditional time of celebrating the season, but we wanted to save most of our festivities for our son-in-law’s return.

I think for many people, change is sometimes feared — even something to be resisted. Perhaps some see change as an indication they have no control over their lives, so they do everything they can to avoid change and feel like its victim when they face it.

Yet anyone who reads much of Mary Baker Eddy’s writings probably gets a view of change as normal and sometimes necessary. She frequently uses such phrases as “change your course” . . . “a change demanded” . . . “change of heart” . . . “change the human concept of life . . .” And following change, comes the promise of growth, healing and progress. She makes change sound desirable and positive, and not a bad thing after all.

Recently, I asked my daughter how she has adjusted to military life — with its sometimes unexpected changes.

She said, “That was the hardest element for me, not being able to plan out the next few years of our lives. I think the uncertainty we face has caused me to become a more fluid person. I am better able to deal with change and have become more spontaneous.”

As her mom, it has been fun to witness this change in my daughter. She no longer sees change as some burdensome challenge she must face at times. I see in her a young woman who has embraced change as natural as life itself. And so she has grown into a poised officer’s wife while she also continues her own career goals.

Not long after our son-in-law returned to the states, we learned he could deploy again much sooner than initially planned. I asked them how they felt about this possible change to their schedule.

They said, “Deployments are hard and there is never a good time for your loved one to leave. We take it day by day, and just enjoy every moment we have together. In many ways we’re a stronger couple for it because we don’t waste time planning for things in the future. If we want to do something, no day is better than the present.”

They said that Eddy’s ideas on improving moments and making the most of the present have been powerful, healing ideas as they live their ever-changing life together.

I decided I needed to start examining my own heart to check for ways I may have become resistant to change. And the results have been rather surprising.

I’ve uncovered viewpoints that were stagnant and stubborn. I discovered some traditions and routines which were unreasonably rigid avoiding any inclination of change. I could see that I had become set in some old ways which were not conducive to growth. I wanted this to change — so, I’m working on being more spontaneous myself.

Turning to prayer for guidance and fresh inspiration is helping me be more open to the idea of infinite possibilities. I’m becoming more willing to explore and consider new ideas and opportunities. I’m calmer in situations that arise unexpectedly. And I’m happier.

Since change all too often leads to progress, I’ve concluded maybe all that’s needed is simply a change in how I view change.