“Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don't have something better.” —C. JoyBell C.
We started this year with a Personal Pledge to change one thing in our life and to do it in as many ways as possible. The goal is to build life well in this area all year long.
We love this challenge because we love meaningful change. We enjoy building something better in our lives, step by step.
We also know that loving the process of change isn’t easy for anyone.
Most people don’t like change, even though change is a constant. It’s not because they don’t want the outcome, but because the process is uncomfortable. It’s full of adjustments, unknowns and things you can’t control. It’s risky. Stressful. There’s uncertainty and things you can’t explain. There’s room for fear and failure. Plus, change is loaded with feelings… and feelings are messy.
Yet, change is a constant.
We believe that if you choose to embrace it, you’ll discover amazing things along the way. Not every move will be right or easy, but each one will help you to discover more about yourself, your purpose and the dreams in your heart.
This is the truth about change that transitioned our lives.
THE BEST EXPERIENCES ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF NARROW AND DARK PLACES.
About 10 years ago, I (Alyssa) was in the midst of a tenure-track academic career. At the same time, I was consulting in business.
I was unfulfilled and burning out, but I couldn’t see it. Fortunately, others did. They knew something was off in my life, so they intervened. Unconventionally. Instead of friday night drinks to blow off steam, a spa day or or a weekend away, they signed me for scuba lessons and a week-long dive certification trip to the Cayman Islands (WHAT?!).
On my first dive ever, we did two things that freaked me out: We dove down to 115 feet below the surface, and we used a swim through to get there.
A swim through is a tunnel in a coral reef. (YES. An underwater tunnel!) You can see the light at the end, so there is a very low risk of entrapment. My first swim through was in open water (no land in sight). It started at 60 feet below the surface and ended at about 90 feet.
We entered by way of a narrow opening at the top of the reef. The initial descent was tight and nearly vertical. There was no immediate end in sight and no good light.
I had been prepared. I knew it would be narrow and dark at first, but not for long. The last thing our guide said to me before getting in the water was, “Don’t worry! I’ll be right in front of you. Just breathe and keep your kicks steady.”
As I did my novice-best to ease through the opening, my oxygen tanks bumped the hard edges of the reef. It was dark. I felt clumsy and afraid. I kept forgetting to breathe.
And then I turned the corner.
The tunnel broadened before me. Beams of light streamed through cracks in the canopy of coral above. It was a dance of light in the passage as schools of small, silver fish moved in perfect form like aspiring tornadoes. In the coral crevices, iridescent crabs and other tiny creatures were curiously observant, watching as if gathered along a street to enjoy a holiday parade. Ahead was the opening I’d been promised.
The dark, tight and narrow descent led to one of the most marvelous experiences I’ve ever had. Even our guide was surprised by the amazing encounters. And I was there! I got to see it all... because I chose to swim through.
Before we stepped off the boat into the water, our guide gave us two options: follow him into the swim through or swim along the top of the reef to our clearly marked rendezvous point.
Swimming along the top of the reef was a legitimate option, but it offered little to see except open water. So I chose the swim through.
As I think back on this moment, I realize how this one decision made it easier to take even bigger risks on the dives that followed.
What if this was how God meant for you to live? Not as a literal scuba diver (unless you want to!), but as a woman designed for the swim-through kind of life—one of risk, wonder, curiosity and discovery? What if this kind of living is the change to change everything? What if living this way makes everything better than expected?
And we’re also convinced it will turn out waaaaaaayyyy better than you expect!
How can we be so confident?
It’s all throughout scripture.
God always changes things into something better.
In the Old Testament, God led His people through changes so that they could experience better places and promised lands. He mapped out the journey, provided food, protected along the way and guided them every step of the way. (Now, whether or not they listened… that’s a different story and a different blog).
In the New Testament, God gave change a name: Jesus.
He changed water into wine.
He changed 12 fishermen into fishers of men who then changed the world.
He changed a kid’s meal into food that fed more than 10,000 people.
He changed weather patterns.
He changed bodies, minds and hearts.
He changed the destiny of cities.
He changed the way people lived and loved.
He changed out of his divinity and into humanity to secure your place in eternity.
Jesus changed everything.
And He gave us His Word—the Bible—so we could follow His lead. In Matthew 11:29 (MSG), Jesus invites us into His way of life with these words:
“Walk with me and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.”
These are not the words of change that bring stress or uncertainty are they? These words leave us with a totally different expectation. If change is a constant, this is definitely a better way to walk it out.
Change may be a lot of things that sound negative, like uncomfortable, unknown, and risky. But Jesus showed us how to see the possibilities in change.
He showed us how to walk into the unknown and believe for a miracle. He showed us how to be changed and how to help others change. Jesus made the idea of change a place of discovery and possibility.
When you look at how Jesus invited us to live, you see a truth about change that changes everything.
When you embrace change, you make room for God to show you better possibilities, creative ideas and new opportunities—maybe even things you never imagined for yourself.
And…. God is THE BEST GUIDE EVER.
He never leaves you in the dark. He never leaves you alone. He always lights the way before you. He knows exactly where you need to be and how to get you there. He’s conquered fear and given you the ability to do the same. He has friends and people ready to help along the way. And even though the path will not be smooth or easy all the time, He is always leading you to something better.
So, let’s go back to the beginning.
We love change! We’re made for it, and so are you!
In moments of change, you discover more about how to build and live a better life than you could imagine. When you embrace change, it becomes a place of possibility and not something to fear. Your change may not be like Alyssa’s and bring you face-to-face with baby squid or sea turtles, but it will bring you closer to wonder and inspiration.
You were made for change.
So take a look at our resource, “The Choice Is Yours.” Spend some time answering the questions. Make this a swim-through moment.
Then keep your commitment steady and watch what happens when you turn the corner.
Until next week, choose to change and let’s build life well, together!