Certain times in a person’s life are all about change ‒ graduation from high school, marriage, babies, career moves, death of a spouse, or the news that we have a terminal illness.
While these changes are a normal part of the life process, most people do not think much about them until faced with the reality that they are actually happening. And in many cases, there has been little or no preparation, so the adjustment is difficult.
There might be a sense of security in ignoring that these changes are coming. A four-year-old child should be allowed to enjoy the privilege of having no worries about finding employment. A newly married couple would not be expected to think about life challenges 50 years ahead. There is appropriate joy in making the most of now without thinking a lot about what tomorrow will bring.
Two life patterns are fairly certain for most of us. One is that we will turn out a whole lot like our parents and/or the other people who mentored us from birth to our young adult years, unless we choose to be different – and it is a choice. Someone may say that they do not want to be like their dad or mom, but unless they identify the undesirable pattern and replace it with a different one, they will repeat the old one.
The other life pattern that is usually consistent is that the person we become early in life continues on that path as we get older. If we have a cranky perspective as a child, we will probably become a cranky adult. If we develop a caring and unselfish lifestyle early, we have a strong possibility of that becoming our way of life for the duration.
If we were privileged to live in one house, attend local schools, and develop friendships that continued for as long as we can remember – all special gifts in my opinion – then having a career that takes us a thousand miles away might be a challenging change. If we did not have that stability in our early years, we will have learned to adjust to change and might be excited about the new experience.
If we lived close to family or friends and watched them grow older and deal with illness and death, we will not be as surprised when those changes become part of our personal journey.
The point is that change is a reality for humans in our life journey. We do not need to become morbid or fearful of the future in a way that interrupts our present joy, but if we do not have exposure to where this journey eventually might take us, we will be caught off guard and have a lot more difficulty handling the challenges.
Two Bible principles can help us with this journey. One is from James chapter 4, where we are reminded that life is like a vapor, so we need to make our plans with an attitude of trusting God to guide us. This principle assures us that change is a characteristic of our journey. The other comes from Philippians 4:11, where we can follow the example of the Apostle Paul, who said he had learned to be content in whatever life situations he found himself.
Young people, as well as older ones, need to learn how to handle change. The sooner in our life journey this process becomes a part of us, the easier it will be when the big issues are at hand.