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Change - Embracing Change- Jeremiah 29

How to Embrace Change and the Benefits

By Frank Kelly


This is an old copy of a certificate I received back in 1991 when I was the Editor in Chief of my college newspaper, after my naval discharge and spinal cord injury. I don't put a lot of personal pride in the national recognition; it was a journalism team effort and a lot of people worked harder than me in their chosen craft for us to get this.

Where I do find satisfaction is in the fact that writing and journalism itself marked a big stretch for me as far in my personal life.  Anyone who knew me, back in the day, remembers I was not known for my academic achievement. I worked with my hands; I welded, built stuff, worked on cars and even ships. I was not a fan of desks and computer keyboards.

After my accident in 1988, I lost most of my physical self. Most of my "work with my hands" skills were gone; I no longer had useful hands, or even a body. I was forced to reconsider my whole life and what I was going to do for the remainder of it. It was difficult. It took time to come to grips with change and it did not happen overnight. Eventually I went back to school and started to look at my options.

I needed activities for my college resume but it didn't seem like there was a lot for a guy in a wheelchair or walker to do. Looking back, I think that was by God's design. Eventually I arrived at the college newspaper. The advisor was too glad to meet me. It turns out the newspaper was desperately short on staff that year and they needed someone with some writing skills and leadership experience. It appeared that a former naval petty officer with regular writing experience was the only thing available. I gave them some test writing and was offered the job of Editor in Chief. I accepted because they made me feel needed, but wondered what I had gotten into. After thinking about it, I was not only going to have to be open to doing something different, I was going to have to be open to changing a damaged personality so I good be a good manager. I would have to have patience and tolerance and other things that I struggled with.

But our group of journalists were open and welcoming and soon I discovered that I actually enjoyed doing it. My writing improved to fit that specific task. I didn't have to be the best. I did need to use the skills I had to do my part for the team. Management skills I had learned in the navy actually helped with this and as a group, we did good enough to receive that certificate. 

At some point for all of us it becomes a time of change. Some things will temporarily change. Some things will permanently change as we grow. Some change is easy and seemingly seamless. Other change is forced upon us and can rip our lives apart.

Most of us don't like big changes, myself included. It's uncertain, stressful and risky. Some of us have more anxiety than others...some of us have more physical barriers than others. But it's an essential part of our walk with God. Different times in our life requires different things of us. But change can force us to discover new talents, new skills and hopefully more experienced ways of dealing with situations and people. We are part of a larger family and we are not needed to be the best person in that family. But we are needed to fill a roll and to do that the best. Those rolls themselves often challenge us to grow and tap into skills we may not have even realized we had. In doing so we can have doubt about where we are going with God. We might do well during these times to remember what God told Jeremiah...

Jeremiah 29:11-14 (NASB)
'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.'I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'

As for me, when I embraced this point and trusted God, it led to many opportunities and adventures I had never even conceived. Things like long distance cycling, mission service all over the world or even a rediscovered love (although new and limited) of music. It was the same handicapped guy who did all of this. Now I have to also say that during these times I was a part of a team. I had people around who supported me and cared about how I was doing as well as me caring and supporting them. They made it a point to reach out, but they expected the same. So, what is the takeaway?

1) Nothing stays the same, so be open to prompting to change from God...embrace it! It's how we grow. Out of habit we often cling to what we know, and when that’s not working it sometimes takes stress to force us where we need to go and how we are supposed to grow. Examine yourself to see if some of your efforts can be refocused towards the things that get you where you need to be..

2) You always have untapped skills and talents-Try to make trying new things a habit. You will find that you have passions that you were never aware of. Keep in mind that at different stages of life, what you like and what you are good at changes. Be involved in that process..

3) It sometimes takes character change for situational change - We all have character traits. Some are awesome, some not so much. We should be open to continuing to grow in those areas. If we have a limitation, make it a strength. This takes work. If you have medical issues, manage them well. It's important. If you have anger issues make changes and grow through them. If you are a worrier, grow in that area. You can later share those testimonies. If you lack involvement, change that. Cultivate support people, not "yes men." Yes men will tell you everything is ok, even when it is not Support people will also tell you where you are lacking if you don't know. Consider a mentor and also consider being one.

Remember, you are training for the next problem right now!

Hebrews 6:1 (NASB)
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

Copyright James Franklin Kelly 2020

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