Spare Change

A changing of stops or a stopping of change?
Hmmm…

They say that you eventually turn into your parents, and I’m getting dangerously close.

Take Saturday mornings, for instance, or better known in my family as “saling” day (as in garage-saling). Almost every Saturday, my mother can be found making her usual rounds on the bargain-hunting circuit. Having lived under her tutelage for 18+ summers, I now compulsively find myself looking for the tell-tale neon signs and making a very conscious effort to stay away. After all, $5 can be a lot of money for a grad student, haha.

My dad has rubbed off on me too, as I discovered all too well during our recent father-daughter road trip back from Atlanta. We had planned split the 15-hour drive to KC in half by stopping in Paducah, Kentucky, for the night. Everything was going well and we were having a grand old time… until we realized we’d taken a wrong turn… 3 hours ago. That’s right; when we were leaving Nashville, we both noticed the sign for Louisville, Kentucky, and commented, “Louisville? That sounds right!” Fast forward to 11:15 p.m. when we finally decided to look at our smart phones and discovered that we were on the wrong side of the state. Whoops. And because we’d agreed to meet a friend in Paducah the next day, we couldn’t just go from Louisville to home. Yay for three hours of back-tracking. Upon hearing about our unintended adventure, my Omi (my dad’s mom) summed it up nicely: “Oh dear. Those two need adult supervision.” Well said, Omi, well said. Overlooking minor major details? Like father, like daughter.

But the greatest way that I resemble my parents is in my response to change. As my mom says (and I often find myself repeating), “I don’t take changes very well.” As much as I love adventures and trying new things, I really don’t like change. While I’ve gotten much better enjoying the moment since studying abroad in Austria, this “living in the present” comes with an unintended consequence: I don’t stop to process changes until they finally come crashing over me like a giant tidal wave, and I’m swamped.

That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago. The combination of not being at Kanakuk for the first time in 15 years, of living in a strange city where people use words like “yinz,” and trying to learn an almost-impossible Slavic language with more z’s than I thought humanly possible—all of this together created the “perfect storm.” All of a sudden, I found myself looking back over the last few years and coming face-to-face with how significantly my life had changed: I’d studied abroad in Austria and made incredible friends from around the world, but now we all lived thousands of miles apart. I’d graduated from Oklahoma State (where did those four years go?!) but had since lost touch with most of my college friends. Much to my surprise, I’d attended the Kanakuk Institute and watched God  to transform my life, but even those friendships had changed significantly in the last year. And while I probably have five more years of graduate school left in Atlanta, it’s going to fly by, if this past year is any indication. And then I’ll just have to pack up and move somewhere else that I’ll eventually have to leave again. In an instant, I was mercilessly struck by the temporariness of life, and all I wanted to do was curl up into the fetal position and cry. But while that might make me feel better for a little while, it wouldn’t fix the real problem. Everything around me would just keep on changing, and nothing I could do would stop it. I could try to ignore it and just “live my life,” but sooner or later, the reality would catch me again with a vengeance. But what could I do?

Having been a Christian for most of my life, I believe that the Bible truly is God’s Word and that He uses it to speak to us. For many years, I’ve read my Bible consistently, and on countless occasions, God has opened my eyes to new truths, and even in passages I’ve read a hundred times. So when I started to feel overwhelmed by the “change wave” a few weeks ago, I prayed that God would give me something new to help me through. But pray as I might, all I could see was the same stuff that He’d shown me months or years ago, but nothing new. Exasperated and desperate, I called my friend Nichole and explained to her my frustration at God’s apparent silence. Not missing a beat, she replied, “You say that you don’t like how everything around you is changing, but you’re annoyed that God keeps bringing you back to the same truth. In actuality, though, it sounds like God is answering your prayer—by being constant.”

Ouch… in a good way.

As always, Nichole had hit the nail on the head—and the truth in my heart. Here I was crying out to God for something steady and unchanging to hold onto, and there He was the entire time, waiting patiently for me to realize that He was holding onto me. And the same holds true for all of us. When everything around us is in flux, He can be counted on. When everyone around us is packing up and moving on, He’s not going anywhere. When it feels like we have “change to spare,” He isn’t changing. The book of Hebrews captures this truth with profound simplicity: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” The One who walked down the dirty streets in Galilee, healing those with just a touch of His cloak, is the same Savior who walks with us every day of our ever-changing lives. Faithful. True. Constant. That’s my—our—Jesus.

So as much as I hate change and would often give anything to slow it down or stop it, I know deep down that everything will be okay. Because while my circumstances will shift and friends may come and go, my God is constant—and He’s constantly with me. And if He’s with me, I don’t need to afraid of anything, even change.

…Speaking of change, I think I just saw a garage sale. Wanna join? 😉

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One thought on “Spare Change

  1. Hi Steffi, sure enjoyed reading “spare change”. I need to take some lessons regarding change from you. Love you, Omi and Happy 4th of July.

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