Do you ever wonder if you will finally get to the place where you are settled, where there will be no more changes needed? No more difficult adjustments in your life? If I were joking, I would laugh at those questions! Because deep inside we all know that change is inevitable and it's never ending. Why do we get caught up in the illusion then, that life will always go on as it is? I've been finishing the final drafts on my work-in-progress - Ruth's story (working title), which is due in December. I don't usually quote a book not yet in print, but as I'm tweaking this story, I find myself connecting to Naomi more than to Ruth. Maybe it's our ages. Ruth was younger in the biblical account, Naomi a middle-aged woman who lost too much. Actually, Naomi's story is a lot like Job's only on a much smaller scale. Loss is loss, and pain is pain and Naomi knew both.
So a little sneak peek at a paragraph in the story that touches on what I'm trying to say:
It doesn’t matter, she told herself for the tenth time that morning. She would adjust. That’s what women did. They accepted the changes life brought their way and continued on as they’d always done.
Do you think Naomi had it right? Women do a lot of adjusting over the course of a life. Men do too, but I think perhaps women do it more or take it harder? After all, men don't have their bodies go through the same changes that women do. They don't bear children. They don't have the same hormonal issues. They don't have the same nurturing tendencies. Call me sexist, but I think history will show that what I say is true, and it's not just a societal thing. It's gender difference in the way God made us.
That doesn't mean men and women don't both feel loss deeply. They do. I watched my father-in-law grieve my mother-in-law for years and he didn't just get over it any more than my widow friends get over their sudden life losses.
Kids grow up and move on with their lives. Some dads take that hard. Others don't. Some moms see it far differently than I do, but I've always been the type to feel deeply. Maybe too deeply. I find the very words Naomi tells herself in the quote above most difficult sometimes because who likes change? I do--sometimes if it's a new restaurant or vacation spot. But adjusting to relational changes or physical changes are far more difficult than I ever imagined.
Some people never do adjust. Some wallow in pain the rest of their lives. My grandfather died six months after my grandmother because he could not take the loss. It happens, yes? I've heard several stories of long-time married couples or identical twins dying on the same day or weeks apart. Sometimes we don't adjust and change is just too hard.
So what do we do with that? How do we respond to Naomi's heartache, to our own?
I won't give away Naomi's story because that would ruin the book! But I think one thing this biblical story has taught me is to trust the One who brought about those changes. God isn't surprised when we suffer. He's not surprised when our castles in the sand wash away or our lives take a complete one hundred and eighty degree turn. He's not surprised by one single thing that messes with our world.
Sometimes it's as trivial as the rock that hit the windshield of our new car only a week after we leased it. Sometimes it's as devastating as the loss of someone we love. While misplaced house keys can't compare to personal tragedy, every little thing that comes our way involves our need to accept, to adjust, to change. And that can be far harder than it seems.
The older I get, the more changes seem to hit one after the other. And have you ever noticed that the older we get the more we hate that kind of change? The elderly typically like things to be punctual, they thrive on sameness. The younger crowd likes spontaneity and the ability to up and go. I don't know. Maybe it's having kids that makes us prefer routine. Or maybe it's just that our bodies start to tell us that we aren't what we used to be and we need to turn the pace down a notch.
Naomi was forced to leave her hometown and travel to enemy territory, at least that's probably how she felt about Moab. They weren't always on friendly terms with Israel. And yet, she had her family so she decided she could adjust.
But what happens, when like Job, there is nothing left? Like the house that blew up several cities from where I live - there is absolutely nothing left. How do we adjust then?
We return to the One who allowed the changes, who is walking with us as we walk through them. He promised to never leave us or forsake us - to those who love Him. And He is the only one in heaven and earth who can keep that promise.
So what do I do to adjust to life's changes? What should we do when faced with sorrow? James 5:13a says, "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray."
So I pray. I journal pray. I pray with my husband. I pray through the Scriptures. And praying changes me.
When I pray in thanksgiving, I find that adjusting to things isn't quite so bad as I first feared it would be. I might wish things were different. I might pray things will change. But I always know that God is with me. When I'm in over my head with life's struggles, He's holding my hand to keep me from going under.
How about you? How do you adjust to changes in this life? Who do you turn to?