Creation of the world and all its creatures required change, a lot of change. God saw beauty, purpose and possibility in bringing forth something new and different.
But we tend to resist, sometimes with a destructive outcome. We tend to want to hold on to what we know, the familiar, what is common or feels easy. We like the predictable, always buying popcorn at the movies or that same brand of socks. The challenge with this is we are here to grow and to glorify. We are not here to remain just us.
I have driven to work the same way for 12 years — the same streets, turned on the same corners, stopped at the same lights. It is easy for me to zone out and just use muscle memory. Last week, construction took me three blocks further west — not a big deal but a minor irritation. I leave extra time driving to work so I knew it would fine. I would still be on time, and tomorrow I would return to my old way. But driving on this different street, just three blocks down, I found that the traffic lights changed more rapidly than my usual path. I didn’t sit as long at each light, and I didn’t zone. I stayed present seeing new stores, faces and a type of tree — which wasn’t on my usual drive — covered in blooms of bright coral flowers. Because the lights changed quickly, even with my detour, I arrived at the office in a shorter amount of time than before.
So a question comes to mind: If we hold on to our usual routine, allow ourselves to react and respond as we are comfortable in doing, and do not take risks or stretch ourselves beyond what we know, how are we allowing God to have power and sovereignty over us? It is only in our giving over ourselves that we are saved. It is only in our willingness to become more Christlike that we grow as He has planned. The Great Commission is to go out into the lands professing His name.
Many people in the Bible were desperate enough or desirous enough to know Christ that they chose, one time, differently. The bleeding woman, the leper and Mary pouring out her perfumed oil on Jesus’ feet in worship are all examples of being audacious and having that bring change and blessing. God gave us free will to encourage us to be willing to change, turn away from our humanness (our sins) and choose to follow Him. Choosing God is a change, a transformation as we align ourselves instead with what He desires.
I have a wonderful opportunity as a psychotherapist to work with people who are frustrated, hurting or confused in their lives. They come to me realizing that they need change, to learn something new, to experiment so their lives can be calmer, smoother, healthier and, at the same time, glorifying. The steps they must take can be scary, hard, and certainly uncomfortable.
I worked with a woman who had a phobia of elevators. She would not set foot within a building that had one. That doesn’t sound too debilitating, but if you start to take notice, most two or more story buildings have elevators. We began our work exploring the history around her fear and current coping skills to come up with a strategy to help her overcome. I showed her photos, we went to the outside of buildings, and step-by-step helped her move beyond her fear. It was a one-week process from start to finish. We walked in the building, looked at the elevator, touched the door and the button, one foot in and then both. We slowly moved her in further and further to help her find a new strength and center, one that was becoming freer and calmer just like our promise from God. She learned to align within differently. She saw when she centered upon her fears, she was scared, overwhelmed and immobile. On the seventh day, the day of rest, she was able to go up and down in an elevator 13 stories high. For her, it was no longer an impossibility or an unlucky number. When we allow God to guide, He tells us how many stories to go in every situation. Knowing He is with us, our lives change.
Heather Browne, Psy.D., is a psychotherapist and a member of Living Spring Church in Garden Grove, California. She also is an author and poet whose writings have appeared in Parenting, Thriving Family and many other magazines and journals. Learn more about her at thehealingheart.net.
1. Where are you aligning yourself on a fear or a habit that limits God and your freedom or flexibility? Where are you stuck?
2. What have you always wanted to try or experience, and how can you allow God to help you explore it?3