permission to learn::fear of change (6)

>> June 8, 2011

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is wife to Pastor Jose, mother to toddler Toby, and is expecting baby #2 later this year. She is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This series of posts was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and mission stories. 

In his allegorical story “Who Moved My Cheese”, Dr. Spencer Johnson tells of four characters in a maze. The two rats and two “little people” spend their days running around the maze looking for cheese. One day, they find a generous supply, and after finding it in the same place day after day, the settle into a routine.

One day after a very long time, the cheese is gone! The rats, simple creatures as they are, scurry off to find more, but the Little People wait for the cheese to come back the way it was before. They resented this unexpected change of events, and they had lost the flexibility they had when they were used to running around for more cheese. Besides, since they had become comfortable, they were fearful of stepping out into unfamiliar territory again to find more cheese.

Finally, becoming weak from hunger, one of the Little People puts on his running shoes and starts looking for more cheese. Intimidated at first, he encourages himself by envisioning more and better cheese in his future. And one day, sure enough, after lots of running and little reward, he finds himself in a room with a much wealthier supply of cheese than the one he left behind. His friend stays in the cheeseless room, starving and resentful.

One very valuable lesson the first Little Person learned is:
“The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese.”

If I wrote the story, it would go something like this: The cheese doesn’t disappear, it just grows old and stale. The little people stay and keep eating it because they are so accustomed to it that they don’t notice it getting gross. When presented with the option of looking for new cheese, they react with incredulity and suspicion at the idea that anything should change.

Old cheese tends to do that to people, ya’ know. And all the while a room full of delicious, fresh cheese awaited them somewhere else.

Sound familiar?

Change can be intimidating under any circumstance, but resistance to change can be especially detrimental to personal and collaborative growth on a spiritual level. Certain worship styles, traditions, and even beliefs can become so dear to us that, that, when faced with something new or different, we resist out of our own emotions, mistaking our preference for God’s way.

Don’t misunderstand me: tradition isn’t our enemy.

There are many beautiful traditions and beliefs that ARE God’s way and should not be compromised for any reason. We just need to know what’s what. Once again, when faced with changes that affect our personal beliefs or corporate habits, it’s a call to scrutinize “the way it’s always been” and to educate ourselves about what is truly God’s way.

Jesus had to deal with people who thought things should always be done the way they had always been done. He identified the problem in a gentle parable: “No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. No man having drunk old wine immediately desires new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’"

Are you willing to be a new wineskin?


I have to mention this antithesis of the Fear of Change for those few of us who seem to thrive on change. I sometimes feel like I’m always gazing at the horizon, always expecting something wonderful, rarely living to the fullest in the present that is given me. Ambitious, visionary, and sometimes living with the misconception that the grass is always greener around the next bend.

I think I’m starting to get to the age where I realize, hey, this is life, quit expecting it to get better. Kind of a sad realization, but what good is denial?

I’m convinced God has something to teach me here, now, or He wouldn’t have me here. There’s only just so much I can change, and there’s no use grumbling about what I can’t change. Like people, for example. If God put someone in my path that rubs me wrong, and I can’t change them, then He must have ordained them to teach me! Same with life’s situations.

Now... Go take on the day….

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Anonymous,  June 9, 2011 at 9:33 AM  

I could not relate to this post more, my husband and I have come to know many pastor's and many different churches; 2 out of the 7 we know have been forced to resign. One of them recently has been forced to resign because he was trying to reach out to the college age community by adding some contemporary styles of worship, and a couple of the deacons really did not like that, it was such an ugly situation and to say the least the congregation disappeared. The other pastor is resign due to the church agreeing to allow gays to serve in the church and them not wanting to seperate from their denomination that has been their tittle since birth but has now gone against God's word. My husband and I being only 20 years of age have just been flabbergasted on how "Christians" sometimes are not follows of Christ and one church body but get to caught up on denominations and 'set ways'.

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