Fear of Change
So the US Supreme Court upheld “Obamacare”/”Romneycare”/”Not-being-terribly-political-I-don’t-really-care”. Not surprisingly, this caused a flurry of outrage, including a number of people, some facetiously, some not, exclaiming that they were giving up on this country and moving to Canada. Never mind the irony that comes with that concept. The outrage itself only serves to demonstrate something that seems to affect us all. Such reactions may come out of righteous indignation, but many seem overblown as well. Some reactions seem like there’s the expectation that a terrible fate is coming and that the nation is headed for a terrible disaster that will destroy us all.
And perhaps we are, and perhaps we’re not, but I don’t see how a new health care law is in of itself going to bring the apocalypse. Such thinking is worst-case-scenario. It’s not just a cognitive reaction, but a heavily emotional one that springs from a fear of things becoming truly, horribly awful. And while this health care bill might be an extreme example or perhaps even a bad example, it’s still an example of the fact that we’re terrified of change.
Not all change. If it was our idea, that helps. It we’re in control of it, that helps. If it benefits us, that certainly helps. But sometimes even when it does benefit us or we are in control of significant portions of it or even if it did start out as our idea, change still scares us.
And yet the gospel is about change. It’s about a change in our relationship with God, with ourselves, with the world. It’s about a change in the way we are called to go about our lives. It’s a change in the very philosophy that grounded us, that we built (without really realizing it for a significant portion) from day one, and that we live by every day just to get from moment to moment. The gospel is all about change.Sure, it benefits us, but it still ends up scaring us. We don’t like change. We don’t know how to handle it, so we dig our heels in and refuse and try to keep the status quo. We convince ourselves that things are the way they’re supposed to be and argue that we shouldn’t have to change, that things shouldn’t have to change around us. Maybe something else has to change, but that doesn’t have to; that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’m the way I’m supposed to be.
But the gospel still calmly waits for us to go through our fears, grieve the losses that we must, and accept the difficulty that change requires. Growth, change, is not something that we control. It’s not always something we initiate. But it is something that God invites and sometimes drags us into.
Sanctification, growth, spiritual formation, they’re all issues of change, and so we’re going to be afraid of it many times, and we’re going to want control, but that’s not what we need. We are called to place ourselves in someone else’s control, to change in ways we don’t want, and that’s potentially going to scare the tar out of us. Doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
Next time something seems to be changing or potentially changing, maybe spend some time with God asking what your reactions to it are – how much they arise out of fear. Could He be inviting you into change despite that fear?