My decision to move to New Zealand from London came with the flip of a ten pence piece. Heads or tails. One year, or two years.
One resignation, one flat pack-up and one last family Christmas later, I was jetting my way over to the Southern Hemisphere – as far away as I could possibly go – unintentional of course.
Even though I maxed out the airline luggage weight limit, I still moved countries with only a tennis racket, a bikini, a lot of sun screen, what seemed to me a few clothes and a Lonely Planet guide book. I landed in a dizzyingly hot Auckland January, with (what seemed-to-be to the Kiwis around me) a crisp English accent and no idea.
When I look back, I wonder how I dealt with all that change at the time; I didn't know where I'd live the next day, I had $2 to get me through till Friday and I felt as though I was daily living Matthew 6 verse 34 ('...do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.') Things were challenging but I was still pretty chilled about it in the whole scheme of things.
So today, when I am faced with yet another change in a two year change-extravaganza in every part of my life, my immediate thought is.... 'noooooooo GOD!! When will this change end?' I've had two years of shifting seasons and life changes (having been now in New Zealand for five) and I'm kind of over it now.
What change brought had seemed exciting and easy to me – to be able to flit between houses and lifestyles – but now has suddenly become a bit of a bore. Harder, draining and definitely not as relaxed, fancy-free and easy to 'just' do.
OK, I might be getting older – having arrived in the country in my twenties and now in my thirties. Yet this doesn't really seem to be the reason. So here are my thoughts as I ponder my own attitude to why change seems unappealing:
1) We are weighed down by stuff (and hang onto it – unnecessarily)
A wardrobe, a queen bed, three surfboards (one of them broken), a mountain bike, skis, a dressing table, five chairs (!) including a customised rocking chair and a lot of books later, I don't come by myself. If Jesus told me to pick up my mat and follow him, I would need to call the removal man first. We are laden down with stuff in our lives (watch here for an excellent video from James Wallman on Stuffocation – I definitely need less stuff and more experience!) The amount of stuff I have accumulated does seem to be directly linked with my resistance to change.
2) It 'costs' us too much
When I look back on my early days in New Zealand, my contingency plan was the knowledge that I could technically get back on a plane at any moment with my return ticket. I had travelled here for a year; I hadn't yet invested in the country, my friends were surface-level, and somehow living on very little money didn't really matter when it felt like I was still on holiday especially living on the beach instead of in a tower block in Central London. Five years on and I have Kiwi friends for life, a church I invest in spiritually, emotionally and financially, and a job that becomes increasingly more pressured (and that I care about): a change in my circumstances wouldn't mean I would automatically run back to Mumsie and Dadsie – I'd stick it out and deal with the consequences.
3) We forget what God did for us before
Awesome Real Estate agent that God is, I was blessed with so many housing options when I first moved to New Zealand – I had good, great, better and the best. I waited for the best – and I was blessed with it – and so every time I drove down that windy road down to my house right by the ocean, I literally felt like my dreams had come true.
So, last week, when I was told I needed to be out of my flat in a week's time, with everything sorted, I wasn't so relaxed. Actually I panicked. It's Christmas and I'm going away in two weeks' time. . I have too much work to do. I can't afford the extra rent for the empty room before I move out. Etc. When I realised the change that actually needed to happen was my mindset, things went a bit differently.
Rather than resign myself to the fact change was going to happen and feel miserable about it, I decided I was going to be excited about the adventure of change and what God was up to instead. As soon as I did that, I looked round a flat that same evening, and the next day, it was all in place, in a way that totally exceeded what I needed in every way. God is always up to something good on our behalf. We just don't know the end story yet.
4) Creatures of habit
Although so many of us talk about adventure and we might sing worship songs along the lines of 'I'll go where you want me to go', we are often hoping God won't really ask that of us. What we really want to do is slip quietly into our routine, uninterrupted, and just get on with life. We don't want any unwelcome disruptions thank you very much.
5) Fear of the unknown
We don't know what the future will hold and that can be scary. We think if life continues as is, same house, car, job, relationship, friendships, then we can control our lives a little bit more to postpone what we don't know about the future.
What does God say about change?
Many of us will know about the lilies of the valleys and birds of the air, and not worrying about tomorrow. And we know that the Bible tells us to, 'Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.' (Proverbs 16:3) So is doing change well inextricably linked to how much we trust God?
If we can know his character, and our motives are right*, then we can be sure that whatever change The Lord brings, he is always up to something good. He even tells us in Luke to expect change – and it's only through change (in our circumstances and hearts) that we are pruned back to produce healthy fruit (Luke 15:2).
When we look back at the bible, it was often through a change in circumstances that God worked, where he brought the miracle or the break-through. And we know that it took the Israelites 40 years for their breakthrough, so we're pretty sure God isn't too keen on the grumbling along the way.
I've decided instead of bleating about the fact that I've had to go through so much change in the last couple of years, I'm going to keep that to myself. There's going to be a line in the sand for me about the past, that every change is an opportunity for God to show his faithfulness, his adventurous spirit and that he's up to something good. So I say, bring on 2015!
Originally from The Lake District in the UK, Amanda works in Publishing in Auckland and is passionate about seeing Christians bring salt and light into the media, arts and creative industries.
Amanda Robinson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/amanda-robinson.html
* 'All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.' Proverbs 16:2