Tending my soul in a season of change

As certain as the sun rises and falls,
as sure as the waves stretch to kiss the shore,
there will be change.

One would think that someone who has experienced as much change as has been crammed into my life would be somewhat of an expert in change.  I should be able to take change in stride, to handle it with grace, to face it without this fear that literally shakes me to my very core.

I grew up in a military family.  My dad was in the Air Force, and change was just a constant part of my life growing up.  We moved every 2-3 years.  Every couple of years we packed up all our stuff, our lives, and moved someplace completely new, surrounded by strangers.  I attended 3 different elementary schools, 2 different middle schools, and 3 different high schools across several different states and 3 different continents.  Change was the story of my life.

So you would think I’d be pretty good at handling changes now, that I’d be resilient and adjust quickly…that it wouldn’t bother me.

Oh, how I wish…
Sadly, that is not so.

Anxiety, insecurity, doubt, and fear have plagued me every time change comes around.

Although we no longer move all over the planet every couple of years (I’ve now lived in the same city, in the same state, in the same country for almost 18 years, which still sometimes seems crazy to me), changes are still a constant part of my life.  They may not be big changes to all new places surrounded by all new people, but the changes that shake me today tend come as subtle shifts – changes in jobs, shifts in relationships, transitions into new life seasons.  All of these changes, big or small, typically have a way of sending me into a whirlwind of anxiety and fear.  I feel unsteady, unsure, unable to find my footing.  I struggle against changes, against the unknown.  In short, I am a mess when it comes to change.

But I am learning, ever so slowly, that I’ve been seeing change through the wrong lens all along.  I’ve been viewing these shifts and changes from the wrong perspective, from the wrong angle.

The fact is, change is not going to change.  Things will change.  Life will change.  Seasons come and go and change is just a part of life.  Life is a constant series of changes.  And fighting against it and struggling with it has only ever caused me to miss out on all the gifts God has for me within and through each change.  Because in each change is an opportunity – to grow, to learn, to trust, to find joy.  And my goal should not be to reduce the number of changes in my life, or to control the changes, or even to manage the changes.  What I need to do is to simply learn how to tend my soul in the midst of change.

Tend my soul.
Care for my soul.
Keep my soul.

 

When I allow my heart to fill with fear and anxiety and worry and doubt, my soul hurts.  I feel unsteady, unsure, uncertain.
I lose my center.
Because I’ve put something other than God at the center.

It’s easy to say that God is the center of my life – but the proof for me is when change comes and when life gets bumpy and when storms roll in and beat down hard…

John Ortberg writes in his book, Soul Keeping, “A soul without a center is easily thrown.1

Sigh…I am far too easily thrown.

John continues…
My temptation when my soul is not centered in God is to try to control my life.  In the Bible this is spoken of in terms of the lifting up of one’s soul.  The prophet Habakkuk said that the opposite of living in faithful dependence on God is to lift your soul up in pride.  The psalmist says that the person who can live in God’s presence is the one who has not lifted their soul up to an idol.
When my soul is not centered in God, I define myself by my accomplishments, or my physical appearance, or my title, or my important friends.  When I lose these, I lose my identity.” 1

How often have I found my identity in things other than God?  Maybe that’s why changes in these things unsteady and unsettle me so much – my soul has been centered in something other than God.

If your soul is healthy, no external circumstance can destroy your life.  If your soul is unhealthy, no external circumstance can redeem your life. 1

For my soul to be healthy, God must be at the center.  And my soul must be with God.

The soul seeks God with its whole being.  Because it is desperate to be whole, the soul is God-smitten and God-crazy and God-obsessed.  My mind may be obsessed with idols; my will may be enslaved to habits; my body may be consumed with appetites.  But my soul will never find rest until it rests in God. 1

God wants to fill every moment of my life with His glorious presence.  Every. Single. Moment.  But in order to live in His presence, in every moment – including every good moment, every hard moment, every sad moment, through every change and every season – I must be aware of His presence, and surrender  to His presence in every moment.

John writes it this way, as a question for every day: “How many moments of my life today can I fill with conscious awareness of and surrender to God’s presence? 1

How many moments?  How many moments in the middle of change can I live in surrender to and awareness of God’s presence?  How will this change the way I handle changes?

God wants to make every moment of my life glorious with his presence….it’s not just that he wants to be with us, but that he desires to make our lives ‘glorious’…he wants to fill our souls with beauty, splendor, wonder, and magnificence. 1

Every moment.  Filled with His presence.  Filled with His goodness.  Filled with beauty and splendor and wonder and magnificence.  Every. Moment.
Even the moments of change, when life is shifting and everything else is unsteady and uncertain.  To be filled with His presence.

 

Can anything really shake us when we are fully aware of Him holding us?  Can any change, no matter how great or how life-shifting, be able to strip us of joy and peace if we are fully surrendered to His presence in every moment?

My life seems to have been filled with change over the last year or so.   And now my oldest, Emma, is starting Middle School in two days.  MIDDLE SCHOOL!  Sigh…this whole middle school thing and the teenage years to follow, they kinda scare me a little – I just feel so out of my element, so inept and unsure – I don’t know what in the world I’m doing.  But these girls just keep growing up…time just keeps ticking by, no matter how hard I try to slow it down.  And this transition to middle school, for some reason, has hit me rather hard.

So I sit here on the cusp of yet another change, and I have a choice.

I could be anxious and nervous and desperately try to hold on to how things used to be – OR…I can let go of control and invite God into these changes, and I can live each moment with Him in the center.  Because that death-grip of control that I hold onto so tightly?  All it does is squeeze the life right out of my soul.  But when I let go of that grip, it frees me.  It frees me to fully embrace each moment – whatever comes – and have joy through it all, knowing He is with me.

So I can fill these days, these moments with worry and fear…OR I can fill them with a conscious awareness and surrender to His presence.

I can hurt my soul by focusing on everything other than God, OR I can tend my soul through the changes by trusting Him and giving Him the control, and simply allow His presence to fill me.

That’s the whole point of tending to the soul – to fill us so completely with his presence that the brilliance of his love shines through us. 1

I want His love to shine through me, through every change and every shifting season.

So instead of letting the anxiety and fear and worry slip in, instead I will invite God into this moment.  Because no matter what comes and no matter how hard the winds of change blow, my soul can find rest, my feet can find a sure and steady footing, and my life can be filled with His glorious presence, when I am centered in the One who is holding everything together.

 

{  1all quotes are from Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg.  If you want to read more about intentionally caring for your soul, I cannot recommend this book enough. }

Advertisements

Tagged: , ,

3 thoughts on “Tending my soul in a season of change

  1. Michelle Statzer July 30, 2014 at 9:53 pm Reply

    Thank you Jennifer for you words of wisdom! I am right in the middle of change and trying to control it all! I so needed this!! 🙂

    • Jennifer Tucker July 30, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Thanks for your kind words, Michelle! Praying for you as you face so many big changes!! I’m sure God has AMAZING things in store for you through it 🙂

  2. Leslie Dee Campbell July 29, 2014 at 7:27 pm Reply

    Jennifer I love your transparency! It gives me hope now that I am raising my great niece and nephew. I believe she is Emma’s age, and came to live with us two years ago. A girl, a tween which I never had, your blog speaks to my heart. Thank you for allowing God to use you in all your seasons:-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: