Plot Twist: How to Let Shakeups Release Glory (and nothing else)
To everything there is a season / Turn! Turn! Turn! This 1959 classic song based on a chapter in the Biblical book Ecclesiastes plays in the background of our lives (mainly in elevators and under dramatic transitional montage scenes in movies). Why are we always so surprised when its theme actually applies to us?
Change is inevitable, the only constant in life really. Just when we get comfortable, something will change and we’ll have to adjust: bank on it. That’s life.
Breakups happen. Shakeups happen. Seasons change. I used to read a business book to my kids when they were little, called Who Moved My Cheese? It’s a thing: sometimes the hoard of cheese you’ve been depending on gets moved. As adults with responsibilities in this world, we have to learn to successfully navigate this phenomenon without having a heart attack every time something comes at us unexpectedly around the corner. How to handle shakeups well is a grown-up subject that needs to be addressed. Hey, I’ll do it…because I happen to be in the middle of one right now.
So here’s the story: the music store where I’ve rented space for lessons just chose to expel me last Thursday with only a week’s notice. (Whaaat? Why????) Over the last five years, private vocal lessons have become my way of bringing some income to our family—not much, but enough to buy groceries and gas and gifts and some household extras—and last week that situation suddenly changed with one surprising email. My immediate thought was that I could move everything to my house, but it’s kind of far out of town, a few miles from the main city, so some of my students will need to opt out. Some will probably be okay to make the drive, thankfully, but in any case it looked like my roster suffered a debilitating blow from out of nowhere, and from no fault of my own. One arbitrary decision from an outside entity just changed a whole bunch of things for me.
Wow…what a wake up call! You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone or threatened. How to respond?
Surrender the situation to God. He’s not surprised, as He sees the end from the beginning and knew this was coming and knows what’s in store. He sees farther and better than I do here on the ground. I’ve been asking for wisdom, keeping my eyes on Jesus who knows the heart of our good Father… and I’m listening up. Not only am I asking for what I need, but I’m hearing what He would say to me.
God is real, and He talks. He’s telling me what to do via imaginations, knowings (impressions that something is right to do, or not to do), His Word (I’m following the printed instructions!), and others’ good advice. Jesus said His sheep know His voice, so as I pray I’m tuning in, adjusting my dials to pick up His vocal frequency, and I am doing whatever He says! So far, that includes waiting a day to think through my email response, taking a position of humility and accepting the owner’s decision with joy instead of resentment. I even heard Him say to leave a vase of flowers in the empty room as I leave for the last time.
Engage, not Resist.
I’m having open communication with the owner, instead of stiff-arming her. I’m contacting my students’ parents and asking questions that lead to understanding possibilities. I'm forming plans on reality, discerning viable options. The Lord instructed me right away not to let myself speculate or worry, just gather information, look at facts and make decisions one after another. In a shakeup, every conversation has the potential to reveal keys to the next steps in the process; this is how to accurately steer through transition.
Once I found out their decision was final, I leaned into the issue and met it head on.
I didn’t hole up in my bedroom, no matter how tempting it felt. I engaged. I got active and stayed positive, and it’s been proving to be contagious. People are wondering what the heck happened but they’re not shying away…because I didn’t! Staying honest and open to whatever comes next is maintaining a can-do culture among my people. Their compassion, encouragement and support are bolstering my heart and making me remember how setbacks really aren’t the end; they’re just part of the greater story’s drama. The point of a life of faith is to keep your character moving along in the flow by dialoguing with God and people, which drives the action along from chapter to chapter.
First, I had to adjust my attitude. When I first read the email, I got all hot and tense and panicky. I felt like I was in trouble though I hadn't done anything wrong. She was terse. I might have taken offense at her tone, but that’s the bait Satan wants to hook us with to keep us trapped on his stringers of torment, lies and bondage. The Lord Jesus told me right then in my heart: “Whatever somebody else does is their business and they’ll answer for it—whatever YOU do is yours to own. Let them bear their own weight in the situation while you just recall who you are: an overcomer whose future is secure. In Me you’re an eternal being, so act like it! Don’t let a temporary situation mess with you, girl. I’ve got you.”
Second adjustment: my sightline. Perspective is everything. Raising my inner eyes (my imagination) to see Jesus smiling, seated on the highest throne, leaning over to talk with Father about my life right now, seriously alleviated my stress. He does have me, and He’s bigger. He likes me. He’s extravagant. We are betrothed; our covenant together means whatever is His, is mine too. The same goes for you, if you’ve received His gift of sacrificial love and salvation and entered into a sold-out relationship.
He has plans to prosper you and bring you hope for every moment of your future … and these plans don’t stop with a crisis. They continue literally forever, and He has your incredible path all planned and outlined in His mind. Whatever you’re going through, He is not surprised by it at all, and He has the way out already arranged. Set your eyes on Him and He will lead you by the hand through every step! Anything meant for evil has to pass through His blood covering over your life, and will surely turn around for your good; every curse spoken over you must turn to a blessing. Landmines hold confetti for those whom He’s given the right to be called Children of God. Death didn’t stop Jesus; He broke it against His life. Neither will this stop you, as you walk alongside Him into your beautiful destiny. Keep your eyes on the Savior. I am!
Last adjustment: my steps. The path God has in mind for me is good because He is good, so I’m following the clues He reveals, taking the baby steps He instructs me to take … and that’s how I’m discovering His way. I believe the real point of all of it is to experience it with Him. God wants to watch us dance in His grace. He is able to keep my feet from falling; my Beloved gives me the feet of a deer that can follow Him up to the heights. His way is higher, His thoughts are better.
Have faith in His ability to lead you, not fear. You’re not on your own out there—you don’t have to figure it all out. Refuse that orphan-mindset and fear-based outlook at all turns, because it isn’t true and it doesn’t serve you. You’re a beloved child of the Most High God, and a joint heir with Jesus. Walk it out like a carefree little kid, stepping in His footsteps.
We were made for this. Humans are designed to adapt and overcome, so let’s let our inborn wanderlust nature override our desire for comfort and let’s get curious! Let’s wonder where the next phase leads! Remember going on adventures when you were little and the world was new? Well do it again. Child-likeness is a good thing because it doesn’t presuppose anything negative, and that’s where limits disappear and innovation steers the story. Entirely new things happen when new things are done with hopeful enthusiasm.
Make it a Game.
This helps me. Games are more fun. When I know I have to do something I don’t want to do, I calmly decide the next five steps I have to take and then I do them completely without stopping, setting aside any and all emotion. I count backward from five and do each of them like a robot jumping from a cliff! This trick works! Things move along so quickly when we get out of our own way.
Anything out of your comfort zone will require a few tricks because new can be super scary for the nervous system, but remember the old adage: at the end of the limb is the sweetest fruit, so you have to reeeeeeach. Something good lies out there in the unexplored space in front of you!
We're going from glory to glory, strength to strength, remember??
For me, this shakeup made me realize how small I’ve been staying. It has lit a fire under me to move forward with a lot of new business plans God’s planted in my heart. I’d been stalling, wondering if it was His idea or mine (the difference between flow or flop), but now I’m sure it was all Him! I’ll keep doing lessons here at home for the ones who want to make the drive and keep singing, but now I’m excited to lean into the big ideas cooking in my mind too. Look for evidence of those in days and months to come.
Publishing this article has helped me process as I process, if you know what I mean. How do you process your “oh, shoot” moments? I’d love to hear your feedback and know your tricks if you’ve got any that work. Say them in the comments and let’s keep each other excited about moving forward. The best is yet to come…