To my sweet ESFJ, who writes me faithfully,
I have been ruminating on your letter since I received it exactly a month ago. You asked for prayer, and what you asked for struck at a root sin I have discovered in my own life this last year. In wanting to steer you right, I’ve given my reply to you much thought, and finally realized that what I had to say was so big (for me!) that it would make a great blog post.
My reply to you is titled: The Greatest Lesson I Learned in 2014
You talk about change, and being afraid or anxious about it. You worry about being replaced or lost or unhappy.
This pretty much defined 2014 for me.
This year, I moved across the United States. I left the place I had lived for the past decade to move to a state I had never even visited. I left my extended family and my amazing church. And we did it all, my husband and I, with two tiny toddlers who didn’t understand.
I was happy for my husband’s job transfer, but I had a devil of a time sorting out my negative feelings. What was at the root of my panicky feeling of unhappiness?
It was easy to say, “I hate saying goodbye to my family, especially my sister pregnant with Baby #1, and my youngest brother who I walked with weekly, and my parents, who are my best friends.” It made sense to add, “I adore my church family, who feel like blood relatives to me.”
And yes, those were major chunks of sadness, of course, but the extremes I went to in my heart had to be more than that. Anyone can feel deeply, immensely sad when one says goodbye to people. But panic? Sinful, stressed out panic? That spoke to me of an idol.
At this point in my life, I really couldn’t pinpoint people as that idol. I had my husband and my children, and they were going with me. I adore my family, but I wasn’t idolizing their nearness. I felt a bond with my church, but God has led us to amazing churches in the past, and I knew He would do so again.
So what was it?
Change! That was it! I claimed I was afraid of change. It’s my personality, right? Change is scary and can’t be good. Change brings worries and anxieties. Change is fear of the unknown. That’s totally normal and reasonable!
And thus, I rationalized the idol in my heart, not even knowing how to dig deeper.
It was the week I didn’t leave my house, crying for two whole days, unable to even open my mouth to speak, dumbstruck with confusion as to why my feelings were so over the top, when I cried out to God and said, “Fear of change wouldn’t cause this much heartache! I keep trying to excuse the fact that I have an idol, but I can’t figure out what it is! Can you help me, because I can’t go on like this!”
And then it came to me.
“Fear of Change” is the polite, friendly pseudonym for the evil villain that is “The Idol of Comfort.”
WHY do we fear change? WHY are we worried about new things? WHY do we get anxious when life takes a sudden twist? When we actually sin in our fear, why is it?
It’s not something to be permitted because of personality. It’s not something to nod and smile at and say, “Yep, perfectly okay and reasonable.” It is something to be uprooted out of our souls!
A lot of the human race and I have a mortal dread of losing our comfort.
It’s totally comfortable to go to a church where everyone knows and loves me and has been a part of my life for almost a decade.
It’s totally comfortable to be able to invite my parents over weekly to watch my kids and help clean my house and chat with me over what I wore to the fifth Christmas party I was invited to that season.
It’s totally comfortable to run and talk to Susy and Nelly every week because I’ve known them since I was a teen with raging acne, fully aware that they’ll always love and accept me and understand all of my mixed-up half-brained communication.
It’s totally comfortable to always take the toddlers to play at the Browns’ house because they wear skirts only and don’t watch anything above the rating of Veggie Tales, and don’t need to read gospel tracts.
It’s NOT comfortable to find a new church and play new songs on a new piano for a new worship leader in a new service.
It’s NOT comfortable to become a new children’s leader in a new, established Bible study, with old hats who know everything.
It’s NOT comfortable to make new friends who don’t know your backstories and haven’t already forgiven you for the major faults they found out years ago.
It’s NOT comfortable to say, “Sure, let’s meet at the McDonalds playground” to new neighbors who don’t have a clue about what happens inside of a church.
But God sure loves putting us in NEW situations, to shake us up, bring up that dross, and refine the gold that is in us waiting to be discovered.
And we sin against Him when we say, “NO. Nothing new. Give me the old and tried and true. I’d rather never mature. I’d rather stay a short-statured Christian with all my peeps around me, where I feel confident and safe and totally in control.”
OH. There it is.
Am I ever actually in control?
Is this a pride thing?
Uh-huh it is. You betcha. And God sure likes knocking the pride right out of me.
I’ll tell you one thing, ESFJ friend. I’ve been on my knees and in His Word a ton more this year, to help my quivering little heart handle all of the New.
And it’s a beautiful place to be. ❤
What idols of comfort do you have? Where do you get too comfortable? Are you willing to let God remove those comforts so that you can CHANGE the world?