Change Sucks - But it's for My Good: Saying Goodbye to Guelph
"If there wasn't any change - you would still be in diapers!" was the classic response of my friend Robyn as I lay on her bed last fall complaining about change.
I was entering my last semester of university and looked ahead to the looming unknown of graduation and what I would be doing. It did feel hard, even though I was being a little dramatic about it. I've struggled with change my whole life. Not sure if my OCD as a child relates, but I always wanted things a particular way. I didn't want change, I hated the unexpected, and I still hate surprises. As I look back in this blog, I notice that I've written about change a number of times - and all at pivotal moments in my life. I wrote last fall about the looming unknown of graduation, and last spring about stepping into a new job and life season.
I think we are consistently experiencing change in our lives. Friendships develop or end, new romantic relationships grow or diminish, we enter various life seasons of school, work, or family. Yet why is it so often that this constant change takes us by surprise or stresses us out? It does for me anyway.
I'm always shocked that something new is happening. Hold the phone, what is going on in my life?
It's kind of ridiculous - if change is constant then why don't we expect it?
I'm currently in a unique season of change. Literally EVERYTHING in my life is changing right now. New city, new school, new friends, new life, new everything. It's really hard to move on and let go of what I'm leaving behind. It's hard to leave my time that I spent at the University of Guelph.
A place where God did so much in my life and I saw Him work powerfully around me. A time when I grew in my faith and into who I am as a young woman. A time where I experienced some of my greatest heartbreaks and my greatest joys. I grew up in Guelph. I discovered why life is so amazing. I learned how to drive. I traveled the world. I learned to walk with my head held high confidently, not afraid of who was lurking behind the corner. I felt a particular sense of safety and freedom for the first time. I experienced a loving church family. Guelph was my home. "You can take the girl out of Guelph, but you can't take the Guelph out of the girl."
Moving away feels hard. It feels like I'm leaving who I am and what I care about the most.
But that's actually not true. You see, I'm leaving BECAUSE of who I am and what I care about the most. God led me to Guelph to spend the most amazing 5 years of my life (so far). He rescued, nurtured, protected, provided, blessed, challenged, and strengthened me there. But it was all Him doing that work in my life. God has led me to Guelph and now he is leading me away from Guelph. I'm leaving because I'm trusting that same God who has been incredibly faithful and loving to me thus far. I have to care more about being obedient than my own selfish comfort - even if that entails experiencing massive change.
The safest place to be is in the centre of God's will - Corrie ten Boom
Change can be scary and does, at times, feel hard. It's painful to watch your friendships change and to let go of the past. Yet I'm starting to (slowly) learn how change is good. If the Christian life is all about depending on God and trusting Him to be the centre of our lives, then we need to actually do that. We need to depend on God no matter our circumstances. I found that when I'm in the biggest moments of change that I depend on God the most.
Perhaps that's the point - allowing us to experience moments of uncertainty and unknown so that we will depend on Him and not ourselves. Having God at the centre of my life means that I yield to Him. That I obey and follow Him wherever He leads me. I was always one of those students who made those claims at conferences and retreats. My faith barrier was always that I would follow God where He led next. Yet, when the time came down for me to follow through it wasn't easy. I need to actually live out obedience in a tangible way.
Change forces me to do that. Change strengthens my faith and reminds me of why I follow God in the first place. It reminds me that I don't have all the answers and that I have very little control of what happens around me. It reminds me that I actually NEED God's presence in my life daily. Change forces me to step outside of my comfort zone and to take a leap of faith, living out what I so often preach to myself and others. Change feels scary and sometimes it sucks. Yet change allows God to work so powerfully into life - and leads me to depend on Him in ways I never did before.
So even though I'm moving cities, schools, and uprooting my life - God is preparing me for a new season. I'm learning how to trust Him and depend on Him alone. I'm sad to leave Guelph and the life I lived but I'm excited to look ahead to new adventures and relationships. In The Magic School Bus, Miss Frizzle says,
Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.
I know those things will happen this year. Yet the hope in the Gospel will provide me so much more comfort. God will be by my side, extending grace and forgiveness when I fail. He has good in store for me, and His faithfulness will ensure that He will continue to lead and direct me. He will change my heart to become more like His own. He will reveal to me more of who He is.
Let's embrace change and cling to Jesus, our Rock who will lead us through whatever lies ahead. So, goodbye Guelph. I will always love you. And Lord, I'm following you into a new season.