It's exciting to watch our young people go off to college this fall with great anticipation and excitement. However, change is difficult and most parents are learning to let go as they face an empty spot at the dining room table in the evening.
Facing what is hard is difficult, but here's a challenge for whatever you may be facing: Embrace the change. Embracing something difficult means making it a part of us. That is a level of acceptance that many avoid, but personal experience and the experience of others have proven that embracing the change is key to not only surviving, but thriving.
Think for a moment of Joseph in the Bible. Joseph was thrown into prison (after being thrown in a pit and sold by his very own brothers) for more than 13 years. He was thrown in for not sleeping with the wicked queen. He did the right thing; she lied and he suffered. However, if you look at his life, it appears God meant for him to be in prison all along. Now, we know God did not want a good man in jail, but once he was in prison God went to work. Joseph embraced prison, was elevated in position, and eventually saved his own family and a nation from starvation. Wow. God worked a difficult and crazy situation for good.
Look at the apostle Paul. He wanted to win the world over to the Christian faith. Instead of being free to preach wherever he wanted, he found himself jailed. Now, obviously, God did not want the wicked government to jail Paul, but since Paul embraced jail and wrote letters, we now have much of the New Testament written from jail.
John Bunyon spent so much time in prison for preaching and Pilgrim's Progress was written and has blessed the world ever since.
This brings to mind Joni Erickson Tada, who became a quadriplegic as a result of an error in judgment while diving into a shallow pond when she was 17 years old. Joni is a prisoner in her own body, so to speak. Now, God never intended for Joni to break her neck, but Joni has throughout her lifetime (she's in her 50s now) embraced her life and has created beautiful paintings with a brush in her mouth. I have one of her paintings and I cherish it. It is beautiful, but it also reminds me of perseverance and the importance of embracing change no matter how difficult. Joni has written many books, has a radio program called Joni and Friends, sings beautifully, and has spoken all over the world about God's grace in overcoming obstacles, illness and handicaps. Joni did not get miraculous healing. She received courage and strength to go on to bless her generation, and it is my guess for generations to come. Joni has cancer today and is facing it with the same God-focus as always.
Even when it comes to mistakes of our own or others, God is saying, "I can work with that if you will embrace it and allow me handle it."
If we but learn to embrace our lives, and even the hard things, we will look back and it will appear it was part of the plan because God can work with anything and he does.
Author Steve Arterburn states: "Don't deny it or try to cover it up. Embrace it, and embrace all of your life. He can use you greatly, and he can use our situation. Embrace it, and allow God to work with it while God is working on you. Your situation may be humiliating, ... but he will use it. He will make the best come of the worst if you will trust him to do so."
How about you? Are you ready and willing to face the hard things, difficult times and changes that life brings? Arterburn continues: "For most people, embracing one's own life comes down to making a radical adjustment of expectations. If you do not do that, you will always be hanging on to the life you thought you deserved or wanted. If you adjust your expectations, you can embrace life as it is and live life to the fullest, and you will discover that the life you have is more meaningful than the life you thought you deserved or wanted. You have to allow God to work with your mistakes and his desires for you. When you do and you embrace the different way of living, it becomes the best way of living."
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and the grief counselor/bereavement coordinator and a chaplain for Mountain Hospice. To contact her, call 304-823-3922 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)