Last July when I set out to write a mini-series blog on Hope and Change, I expected to complete it 3 weeks later--not 7 months later! But since starting this mini-series, much has ... uh ... changed. I decided before all that change came to pass, I'd finish it.
Quick background: Around the first of November, Silvia and I were invited to meet with the Brighton Seventh-day Adventist Church is Brighton, CO, to see if we would be a fit to serve as their pastor. After some deep prayer, Silvia and I agreed to go out and interview with the church. This was a hard decision to make, for we realized that in agree to go out there, we were also saying we could leave our current assignment in Paw Paw, MI. For more than 10 years now, we have had a love and passion for the Paw Paw Congregation--and they too, have reciprocated and demonstrated their love and acceptance for our family. There was no reason to leave as far as the local church was concerned. Yet, for some reason, after much prayer, it seemed natural to go and look.
Brighton wasn't the first church to call us. We've been asked by others. But after a time of prayer, we never felt it was the right time to leave Paw Paw. Long story short, the end of November, Silvia and I accepted the call to pastor in Brighton.
Now we are faced with change. Here in Southwest Michigan we have enjoyed a big house with a nice three-quarter acre lot in a quiet subdivision. We've had a great church filled with friends who we've become close too. Our children have friends. Our son loves his school and teacher. We've been comfortable here. Now we find ourselves in an active cycle of great change.
In the previous posts on change, I've written about seeing the potholes up ahead and being ready to change course. Steering a church, family, and individual life are similar in a lot ways. All three have to be constantly aware of their present situation. All three must be looking ahead, planning, and most importantly--adjusting.
On it's website, a company called Bizmanualz has an article entitled "The Five Emotional Phases of Change." When in the midst of active change, understanding these five phases might actually help to make the process smoother and end with greater success. I have adapted their five phases, but changed their order to be more appropriate with how I see change in personal lives and in churches:
Phase 1: Anticipation.
People want to know what is coming next. It's a security for them. Not know causes us to withdraw, possibly even timid until we can see more clearly the options before us. But knowing that something is ahead, and that that something might be good or even great, can have a positive affect on individual. Anticipation allows the person to even look forward to change.
Phase 2: Confrontation.
This is when you realize change has begun. Things are moving and there's nothing you can do to stop it. New feelings will be realized and will be determined by your attitude about the situation. Negative feelings might be resentment, anger, frustration, denial, whereas positive feelings might include excitement, encouragement, and energizing optimism.
Phase 3: Depression.
In this phase we may find ourselves longing for "the good 'ole days." However, the good 'ole days were good back then. If we live for yesterday, then one day we will recognize life has passed us by. In depression, we have to come face to face with our personal beliefs and values. We recognize they are being tested. Is this change for the good of everyone involved? Is it necessary? Are we getting to far ahead? Is it right on time and exactly what we need? Careful thought and consideration must be given in this phase, and it can't be passed over.
Phase 4: Realization.
Something is happening. Change is in process. There is no go back now.
Phase 5: Acceptance.
Acceptance is powerful because at this stage we can accept the change before us, embrace it, and even shape it. Rather than worrying about how things used to be, focus on how you want them to be and how you can contribute to get the results you want.
All that being said, I am saddened by the change before me. It means leaving the vicinity of closed friends and a part of the country I enjoy. But I am equally excited at the opportunity of meeting and making new friends, and learning to love and enjoy a new part of the country.
Change will happen. The experience--either positive or negative--is up to me. And your experience, either positive or negative--is exclusively up to you. So why not embrace it? At least then you get to have an input on the outcome!