The first night my German shepherd, Marlene spent in our house, she was a ball of nervous energy. She ran from room to room not quite knowing where or how to light. Her new surroundings were making her a bit uneasy. But more than anything, this little 6 lb. fluff ball was wary of her new and slightly grumpy 105 lb. brother of the same breed.
Later that evening, I wasn’t surprised to find her lying with her head under the bed. She had had enough of the new and wanted to escape for awhile. Snuggled securely under the bed skirt, Marlene thought she was completely covered. In her mind, if she saw nothing, then nothing could see her. She had managed to hide her head from the world, but all else was on display.
We do the same thing at times, don’t we? Change can be a disruptive force in life. It confuses us and throws us off our game. Unexpected changes destroy our certainty and do away with the old rules for hassle-free living. Challenging experiences, unfamiliar emotions, or unexpected twists can cause us to understand ourselves in deeper ways and be downright terrifying. Before we know it, we are doing our best ostrich impersonations, sticking our heads in the sand as the world stares at our backsides. We’re hiding in plain sight and fooling no one but ourselves. God is probably chuckling at our silliness like I laughed at Marlene’s inspired solution to her problem.
Our underlying assumptions often go something like this.
- “If I don’t see it, it’s not real.”
- “If I ignore it, it will go away.”
- “If I tell a big enough lie often and loudly enough, it will become true.”
- “If I pay enough attention to other people’s problems, mine will vanish.”
How can we begin to deactivate these patterns of avoidance and create pathways that will allow us to grow? Instead of recoiling from change, embrace it. Turn these four processes on their heads. Substitute action for denial, awareness for disregard, affirmation for deception, and attention for distraction.
- “If I do see it, perhaps God wants me to do something about it.”
- “If it does not go away, God put it here for a reason.”
- “I will move forward in faith instead of lying to myself about my life.”
- “If I pay attention to my own problems, God will help me to resolve them with grace and integrity. I may even be of help to others in the process.”
My little Marlene finally confronted the monster in the house. After a few tense days, he became her best friend and protector. In the same way, the things we fear to change may just end up becoming our greatest faith boosters and sources of spiritual strength. So, do not hide from them. Confront the monsters in your life and make them your friends.