Change changes us. Either for better or for worse.
I found myself in a different part of town yesterday. After days of staying at my mom’s for the holidays, I felt like I needed to take break from my usual routine. It felt so good to just be alone and away for a day. In those few hours, I got the chance to reflect on what took place this past year, and how these changes affected me.
Prior to this, the past few days contained short bursts of reflecting on my identity. The exercise felt odd. I felt like a new part of me was introducing herself to the old part of me; both parts were trying to see which areas they could get along in, and which areas the new had to overtake the old.
I was able to discover things about myself that I otherwise wouldn’t have known if my life had turned out differently. We are, after all, a product of our response to every situation. And I couldn’t help but notice how different my life turned out to be since deciding to follow Jesus.
I saw changes in how I spent money.
When I was in high school, my friends would call me “HM,” short for high maintenance. Quite frankly, I grew up in a very privileged and sheltered background. I had no idea how to commute around the city. Money or food was never an issue for my family, so budgeting wasn’t in my dictionary. I lived comfortably, and got great opportunities because of this.
But as I moved out of my mom’s house, I had to learn how to commute, pay the bills, and budget every single expense. I had to learn to pack light and plan a week’s worth of logistics ahead of time. I had to cut back on most of my non-essentials because it was either this, or I wouldn’t survive. With this, I learned just how frugal I can be—to the point where I’d rather take a 5-minute walk to save an extra Php 10—and how I so loved this side of me!
One of my worries about moving out was the need to cutback on my lifestyle. But while this did happen, I was able to see just how God could open doors to provide for what I needed and wanted.
I saw changes in how I related with others.
Growing up, I always thought that I could only really build deeply with those similar to me because they could relate to me the most. But in trying to find a community who could help me grow in my faith, I began building relationships with people in church who did not have the same personality or grow up in the same environment as me.. and this was totally okay!
I can say as of late what a gift it is to have friends who are different. Friends who could teach me things I wouldn’t have known about the world. Friends who could introduce me to different real life hacks. Friends who could correct me when I was coming from a very narrow-minded, aloof, or unrealistic point of view.
In fact, these people have become my closest friends to date. I am so relieved that the church doesn’t fit one specific profile, or it would have been home to only a handful of people.
I saw changes in how I did my daily activities.
The other week, a friend of mine commented how she couldn’t see herself moving out because she just couldn’t deal with not having the noise of her family being around the house. This was me for many years.
I couldn’t imagine leaving my family and living without them. I couldn’t imagine doing things on my own. I couldn’t imagine getting work done alone. I couldn’t imagine not informing my parents where I would be, what I would do, and with who.
But moving out changed all that. I now actually crave the silence. I love alone time when I can be with my thoughts, a book, a blank page, and God. I love doing errands alone. I love the moments when only God knew where I was and what I was doing with Him. I never really felt alone, because I always had great Company with me.
I saw changes in how I responded to deep-seated issues.
I dub 2017 as the year of transitions. Almost every aspect of my life was being changed and challenged at that time, and this, like any real change, exposed a lot of issues.
These issues felt like a slap to my face. I lacked self-awareness and was completely taken by surprise when I realized just how broken a person I was. There were days when I didn’t want to get out of bed. Days when I was on autopilot mode at work. Days when I just wanted to resign and leave the city. But I am thankful that God and a handful of friends carried me through that time.
Some of these issues I still deal with today. There are days when they still do slap me in the face, at the most trivial moments. But, as I continue to grow in God’s love for me and walk with people who can hold me accountable, I have learned to deal with my issues better.
Sometimes the response would be to fight back by speaking God’s victory over them. Sometimes the response would be to ask God for forgiveness. Sometimes God would tell me to just be still and let His love and comfort cover me. The response would be different each time, but always with God.
And since I am certain that God will one day heal me from all of this, I learned to stop focusing on a fixed healing timeline and instead would just ask God every time how He would have me respond in that moment.
Change changes us.
Change reveals so much of who we really are. Perhaps it’s because growing older means gaining more life experience, responding to more complications, and facing more challenges. And if we paused every once in a while, we will see that who we are now is so different from who we were last year. Arguably, maybe even the person we were yesterday.
But for every one who follows Jesus, there is hope that the changes that changes us will be for the better in the years to come. If only because everything that the world labels as a threat when change does happen (and it will!)—a lifestyle downgrade, being exposed to different-minded individuals, the feeling of being alone, and our personal issues—suddenly becomes an asset when it is redeemed by Jesus and used for His Kingdom.