Welcome as we continue to chat about CHANGE.
Here's a refresher of the five stages of the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of change:
Contemplation (I’m THINKING about maybe making a change.)
Preparation (I’m GETTING READY to take some action. I will!)
Action (I’m DOING it! I’m making a change.)
Maintenance (I’m consistently maintaining the positive behavior change I made.)
Sometimes when we’re working through changes, we get stuck in a particular stage. We’re making progress and BAM! Life throws us a curve and we get off course. Perhaps we’ve created our own barriers by succumbing to fear or allowing ourselves to be distracted by busyness or social media. And sometimes things just happen beyond our control, like an illness or family crisis. To be honest, I experienced a sprinkling of each of those since we last chatted on the blog.
But my biggest barrier is usually . . . ME. I’m in a constant battle to quiet the fears in my mind and the whispers to just give up and give in to feelings of inadequacy.
Thankfully, spending time in God’s Word provides a path away from looking in (because I’m not going to find the answers there!) and, instead, looking UP to trust what God has in mind.
My Bible reading recently offered a powerful example of a believer who was in the PREPARATION stage and likely didn’t even realize it.
As David plucked out tunes to the bleet of the sheep far from the limelight, he likely had no clue what God was planning. But a life of a gentle shepherd punctuated with intense run-ins with lions and bears (oh, my!) was exactly what David would need to step into the ACTION needed in the next phase of his life. He may have contemplated what his life might look like one day. Yet when he was quietly anointed as king by Samuel–and then sent back to the flock–he must have wondered what God was up to.
God eventually would call David into ACTION. His years playing music, defending the flocks, studying God’s power and providence, and learning to trust in God’s faithfulness would all come to a head over the next years. David took action to play the harp to soothe King Saul, earning a position as an armor bearer . . . further preparation that would soon help David take action in battle. David took action to defend God’s name against Goliath and rescue the Israelites from the Philistines.
As you contemplate your life and consider areas where you feel called to change, take a few moments to write down how God has prepared YOU to move forward. Write down things you have learned over the years. Can you cook? Do laundry? Rock a baby? Change a diaper in record time? Hold a child’s head over the toilet as they throw up? Create a spreadsheet? Pick up on the emotional needs of another person? Run a meeting? Maintain a schedule for your family or supervisor? Write a touching sympathy card? Speak another language? Sew? Garden? Bake? Make someone laugh?
God may not be calling you to take the throne in your next ACTION stage of life. (Wouldn't THAT be a surprise!) But he has prepared you for whatever is coming next.
How did David do it? Yes, he tapped into his skill set and was open to new learning and opportunities. Yet the only way David was able to withstand the tough times, embrace the joyous moments, and move forward through uncertainty was to consistently turn his heart and mind back to God and His power.
“I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).
From inside a cave, pursued by the king (his own father-in-law!) David could say,
“My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music” (Psalm 57:7). (Can you imagine this as a musical with a dancing Fred Astaire? 🎶 Singing in a cave, just singing in a cave! What a wonderful feeling, God’s GREAT . . . but Saul’s depraved!🎶)
David wasn’t alone as he took action. His dear friend Jonathan supported him from a distance and visited him when he could. David had fighting men who rallied around him. And, best of all, David had a God who never left his side. A God who took the ultimate action by sending Jesus to redeem us.
Where are you being called to change? Is it improving how you steward your body through movement, better nutrition, or more sleep? Is it cutting back on social media in order to tune in to the people and opportunities around you? Is it increasing your time with God in his Word? Is it changing how you relate to that one certain person?
Action--healthy action--is an antidote to anxiety. Action is an antidote to depression. Action is part of our calling in this world. Action follows preparation. Action–even the smallest movement forward–takes us into the heart of change.
And when we step forward in healthy, faith-based action through the Spirit’s power, we know we can join David in proclaiming,
“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good” (Psalm 52:8).