Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. ( 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Change is very difficult, and if most of us are being honest, it is quite frightening. But one thing is for certain, change is inevitable, and to many of us, that is an uncomfortable feeling knowing things will change during time. Change is most difficult when we as individuals do not know how to adjust properly to change, or we have issues with control and do not know how to control the outcome of change. When it comes to being a Christian believer, we often-time have difficulties with God’s control and our ‘human will’ to subject to His ‘divine will’ and His plan.
Resistance towards change is a human protective factor. Unforeseen challenges, threats, and obstacles make it very difficult for our humanness to accept the notion we may be put in danger at the onset of this change, or, there is a threat towards our peace and our sense of stability. If we are being truthful, it is easier for us to stay in a comfortable place that does not require change and growth, instead of allowing ourselves to be uncomfortable and accept the changes that have to be made.
Now, I’m not talking about small changes, I’m talking about the changes that have to be made in our daily walk with Christ Jesus for us to get to the place He has destined for us. And although most of what we consider change, is nothing more than minor tampering of the original model. Major changes in whom we once were are one of the most difficult parts of our process.
We have a hard time accepting that our personalities may not be suitable for what God is calling us to do. Most of us have learned to be abrasive to defend ourselves because that is what we had to learn how to do, so we weren’t bullied by friends and family members. Some have learned to be cold and standoffish because we had to learn to defend ourselves from people who were not trustworthy. Some of us had to learn how to assert ourselves in the forefront to be seen because we are so used to being overlooked and being oppressed.
Most of what we have developed as defense mechanisms came as a result of what we learned to do, for us to defend ourselves and our mental makeup. Through extensive pain and uncomfortable situations, we learned coping mechanisms that are sometimes not suitable for the journey we are taking with Jesus Christ.
We can’t be abrasive to everyone or how would anyone learn the kindness and the love of Jesus Christ through us?
We can’t be standoffish, or how would those who are lost come to us and ask for prayer, or ask us questions about Jesus Christ?
We can’t be sceptical of everyone, or how would we be able to ingratiate ourselves with other believers to join the family of God?
What we have learned in the past has helped us get to our present, and changing what has worked, is what makes change frightening. Change is inevitable not because it is an overpowering juggernaut of a force, but rather it is inevitable because all things have a beginning and an end. What we sometimes fail to realize is the seasons in which we learned how to survive by learning different coping and defensive mechanisms, we no longer live in those seasons any more. And the rules that applied to those seasons, no longer applies any more, because those seasons ended with time.
Here are three ways we tend to resist change:
- We resist change because we need to have a sense of control.
- We resist change because it makes us vulnerable again.
- We resist change because we do not understand the future.
We resist change because we need to be in control.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)
Control is a construct that we used to feel safer, and who can blame us for that! The first time you realize the world isn’t safe any more is the time you understand you have to be in control to maintain safety and stability in your life. Resisting change is not a matter of not wanting something different but rather, not understanding the limitations of control that one has concerning change. Change is unnerving to the individual that needed control in their life because their past was dysfunctional and chaotic, and they learned how to control situations to assume safety and survival. Some of us came from broken homes and unpredictable circumstances like not knowing when your next meal is going to be because your family was impoverished and couldn’t afford groceries; not knowing when your parents are going to be home because they were out roaming the streets high on drugs; or not knowing if your alcoholic father is going to come home intoxicated and abuse you.
Although control means something different to everyone, many of us deal with controlling tendencies because we have come to realize, if we do not control the outcome, then someone or something we do not trust will ultimately take control in a way that will be unsettling for us. Change isn’t always seen as something positive but a threat to our ability to control what we know is functional, a threat to a system we feel is comfortable and predictable.
Predictability ensures our abilities to be prepared for what the outcome is, what it should be, or how we want it to be. And change is not predictable! Change doesn’t promise that the outcome is going to be what you want it to be, and it isn’t reliable enough to ensure that the outcome will not negatively affect you in some way. Whether we like it or not, change is difficult and even scary because we don’t know if the change is going to harm us or not, and for many of us who have had difficult pasts, that is sometimes unacceptable.
Here’s are several quick ways to overcome controlling issues with change.
- Accept change for what it is and not as a threat to your inner security.
- Learn ways to empower your ability to adjust and adapt and not your ability to control every situation
- Identify your worries and fears! Write down all the ways you are worried about what change will bring and then write down all the ways you can adjust to those worries by providing something positive to think about when it comes to what needs to change.
- Remember controlling situations is not more reliable than controlling yourself and self-regulating your own emotions.
We resist change because we are afraid of being vulnerable again.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV)
We resist change because it takes a lot to be vulnerable to something new. Being vulnerable is very difficult because it causes us to be honest about our flaws and weaknesses. Change often comes at the onset of our flaws and weaknesses having to be adjusted. Many times we change, or change must come because weakness was exposed in us and it forced us to alter it.
For example, have you ever been reprimanded for procrastination and your boss told you, if you came late to another meeting, or if you continued to come to work late you will be suspended or fired? Or have you ever been in a relationship and your constant complaining and negativity made your ‘significant other’ address your behaviour is ruining the relationship?
Exposure to our flaws brings light to what we are doing wrong and causing us to fail. It is perfectly normal to believe there is nothing seriously wrong with us, but when someone describes your behaviour as detrimental to a relationship or damaging to your career, then comes the realization that maybe we are not as good as we think we are. Change has a perfect balance of challenging us to be better while forcing us to confront self-defeating patterns in our lives.
Most change occurs from serious life events unfolding, or revelations of troubling behaviour that is damaging to what will cause us to prosper in the future. We become resistant to change because it forces us to become vulnerable and accept hard truths about ourselves that we most often try to ‘sweep under the rug’ and hope everything else that is great about us will overshadow the flaws that will cause us one day possibly self-destruct.
Here are several ways to accept being vulnerable to change:
- Accept the fact you are not perfect and being accepting of changing your flaws is better than hiding your flaws and wishing them away.
- Vulnerability and honesty go ‘hand in hand’. Being honest about whom you are, where you are, and what you are, will ultimately help you to change the things about you that are preventing you from getting to the destined place God has for you.
- Vulnerability is not a weakness but rather the courage to accept your weakness and the power to accept the idea that your weaknesses can one day become your strengths.
- Vulnerability is a great teacher and motivator. It will teach you humility and motivate you to be open to new ideas that will help you grow as a person and as a Christian.
We resist change because we don’t understand the future.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
It is hard to accept something you don’t know. It is hard to change into something you are not familiar with or you do not have complete confidence in. Changing is stressful when you are not sure of the future. When we do not know how to conceptualize or even have faith in what the future will be, it is very easy to become resistant to change.
Resisting change because we do not understand the future is probably the easiest way for us to be resistant towards it. How can you change if you do not know for sure that what you are changing into will ever be complete? Why would you change your negative behaviour in a relationship if you don’t think the relationship is going to last? Why would you change from the old man that was dead in the world, and change into this new man in Christ Jesus, if you don’t believe that this new man will ever be prosperous in Christ Jesus?
Change is difficult for those who are unbelieving. Changing who you are to changing who you need to be to see your dreams unfold is difficult if you don’t believe that in the future your dreams will unfold. Some of us do not change because we don’t believe in a better future. Some of us don’t change because we don’t understand that our very present moment is what shapes our future, and because of this lack of understanding about the future, we sometimes believe that the future will unfold by some magical design, and not how we must change in the present for the future to be the reality we want it to be.
When we fail to realize how we craft our futures by our moment by moment decisions, changing doesn’t become a requisite for a future living but something we can neglect because the future is out of our hands. It is indeed God that holds our future in His Hands, but how can we expect God to do all the work for our future when He requires us to be obedient to His will for our futures to be secured in Him. Change in this aspect is not an option but rather a necessity we must daily adhere to. We must change what is necessary to be an alignment with our Heavenly Father.
Here are several ways to accept the requirements the future demands for change.
- Believing is the most fundamental principle in Christianity. You have to believe in what God said about you, what He is going to do through you, and how He is going to do it if you are going to accept the changes that need to be made in your life.
- You must believe the future is shaped by our daily decisions. If we are going to make our dreams a reality and our destinies an actuality, we must change errant decision-making that is contrary to what is required for our future.
- You have to trust in God’s word and His will. God will not require a change in you if it did not serve a purpose.
- You have to trust God. Trusting in the fact, He will not give you a dream if He did not plan on giving you instructions on how to make that dream a reality.
Change is necessary and it may be hard to accept change, but you have to know God will always be by your side every step of the way. You can change the things you need to change without fear if you put your mind and your focus on it. Being resistant to change may make you feel comfortable and may give you a sense of control, and it may even cause you to predict every outcome, but you have to realize that the state of reality will not last long and everything will one day be subject to change. You can learn how to adjust to change instead of being stagnant in resisting change, the choice is up to you. Take control over your life by being in more control over how you can adjust instead of how you can resist and protect what you already know!
BY: C. J Greene
CJ Greene is a follower of Christ Jesus, who travels the world with his beautiful wife Samaria Greene preaching the word of God and training up lay members of the Body of Christ in Prophetic Prayer and leadership development. CJ Greene focuses on missionary work in the nations of the world bringing not just the Word of God but a change in communities to empower those who are disenfranchised, oppressed, and deprived. To reach CJ Greene you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org