I love fall with it’s vibrant colors and the last warm weeks before winter sets in. It’s a feeling of coming home. We prepare our gardens for winter and we get a long break from having to mow, weed, and water our plants. As fall progresses, the weather grows colder and we come inside and spend time together. We start to prepare for the holidays that will soon be upon us. I love the crisp air, the crackling of dried leaves beneath my shoes, the mums and pumpkins that decorate the front of my house, and hot apple cider becomes my favorite drink. Fall brings change, but it’s a change I welcome.
I can’t say that about every change in my life. Some change I’ve wanted to resist. Like seeing my children leave home and move away or watching my parents grow old and face the challenges that come with their aging. Come to think of it, I’ve been combating some of my own signs of aging, and unfortunately have lost the fight in some aspects of this battle. Breaking a habit is another difficult change. Have you ever tried changing your diet? Then you know what I’m talking about.
Yet change is inevitable and it all comes down to my attitude, doesn’t it? I realize some change is so devastating that you need time to mourn. I get that. I’ve been there. But I can’t stay in that depressed state for long. If I cannot hinder the change from occurring, I must resist the feeling of hopelessness. But how do I do that?
Many refer to 1 Corinthians 13 as the love chapter, but the verse that most profoundly affected me when I first read this chapter was verse 13. “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” The reason this verse stood out to me was the word “hope.” I totally get it that I need faith in God and I need love. Indeed, how empty my life would feel if I had no faith and no love in my life. But think for a moment what life would be like without hope. When change brings a negative outcome, I need hope that things will get better again. Hope gives me a reason to move forward and to make new plans.
So how do I keep myself from feeling hopeless? I’m certainly no expert, but I have a few suggestions.
- Talk to God: When you have a personal relationship with God, there is nothing you cannot talk to Him about. It isn’t that He’s unaware of your difficulties or changes, but He wants you to come to Him because He wants to have fellowship with you. That’s how He set it up. Often, as I talk to God about what I’m going through, I find the answer as I pray. “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'” (Matthew 11:28 NLT) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV) I have come to God over and over again, and He has proven Himself faithful to me. He renews my hope.
- Refocus: Look for ways to help others. Meet new people. Find a new hobby or do something you’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time. Take a course and learn something new. (I wrote a novel when I needed to accept a huge change in my life. I always wanted to do this, so I finally did it.)
- Work: Repaint and redecorate. The change will do you good. Work on gardening. Make some changes around your house. (When my kids moved out, instead of keeping their rooms as shrines in their memory, I repainted and redecorated them as guest rooms for when they would come home to visit. I loved the new look.)
- Exercise: This is a huge help to get rid of stress and get some happy hormones (endorphins) flowing through your body. Ask a friend or neighbor to join you. In the process, you may help them face their difficult changes in a healthy way, too.
In closing, I have one more word of advice. Change with change. Sounds strange, right? But what I mean is, when change comes your way, change with it. For instance, your adult child moved to another state. Don’t sit with a photo album on your lap staring at your loss, or watch all the home videos of your children’s childhood. There is a time for that. Do it when they visit you, and watch the videos together. You can all laugh at how adorable they were. In this way, you will make new happy memories with them of all of you watching the videos together. When your child calls you, don’t go on and on about how much you miss them and how lonely you are. It’s okay to say that you miss them, since it will make them feel loved and appreciated, but show them by example how you have also moved on with your life. In the process, you will be teaching your children how to accept change and move forward. So when change comes your way, change with it.
You cannot resist the fall season so that winter will never arrive. Whether you like it or not, if you live in Michigan, winter will come, ready or not. It’s best to embrace and enjoy the fall season and then do it again when winter sets in, because in every season there is something to enjoy. In the same way, when change comes into your life, you must embrace it and prepare for the next phase. It may be the opposite of what you long to do, but it is what you must do for yourself and for your family. Make the new phase enjoyable by the attitude in which you embrace it.