As I was preparing for our Vibrant Faith Retreat on Tuesday I was reminded that I need the Holy Spirit to help me look at the blank spaces on my calendar with hope and gratitude instead of anxiety. (Space is available at the retreat, if you are interested, post a comment below for more information.) What follows is an excerpt from the final lesson in the Vibrant Faith study.
"I used to love the beginning of the school year. Fresh books, new shoes, new notebooks and best of all— new markers! I would try to keep the maker package looking pristine as long as possible to maintain that “beginning of the year” feeling. Assembling school supplies and marching up and down the aisles of Target with the list was a treat after a long summer. Who would the new teachers be, who would be in my class, who would I eat lunch with— you know the big questions of the world.
As my children entered school, I enjoyed the start of the school year just as much. It was always good to get back into a routine with earlier bedtimes and bleary-eyed lunch assembly.
This year, it is different, though. With only two children, the nest empties quickly and our youngest is off to college in a new state. Her back to school shopping will no longer require new markers, now she will require new sheets.
I know that I should be looking at this big change in my life with bright eyes of anticipation and excitement, but there are days when I just want everything to stay just the way that it is. I want the children to remain small with small childish problems. I want to remain in the city I have grown to love with the friends who I adore. I want to stay healthy with no aches in my joints or muscles. I want things predictable and safe.
Are you experiencing a season of change that you have not asked for? Is there an unexpected move to a new home or a new city? Are there health issues with a parent that you were not expecting and now the little free time you had is spent in the doctor’s office or running errands? Maybe, you are feeling pain yourself and are not quite sure what the new normal in your life is going to look like.
How we look at whatever change comes along will make a huge difference in our ability to adapt and thrive in our new “normal”. Are we looking at change as an obstacle or an opportunity? We can resist change and grind deeper and deeper into our rut allowing our wheels to spin deeper and deeper into the place where we are standing, and our hearts can grow harder and harder as we resist whatever is new. Alternatively, we can look at change as a welcome guest with open hearts and an open mind.
Let’s look at change with the eyes of faith and the help of the Holy Spirit.
Despite my best intentions, how I look at the upcoming months on my calendar affects my prayer life.
- When I look at the blank squares with anxiety:
- I am forgetting that the Holy Spirit will remain with me each and every minute of each and every day, and if I am open to His movement, I will recognize Him.
- I forget that He is waiting just around the next corner to give me a Sign of His love.
- I fail to remember that I do not need to remain in control of my children, self and family because He has a better grasp of what each of us needs and will forge a path for us all if we are open.
- In my hardness of heart, I fail to remember that He has provided friends for me in the past and He will continue to light the way for new friendships in the future.
- A focus on what is hard and burdensome takes me away from gratitude and worship.
- A focus on what seems impossible and improbable takes me away from the ability to accept all of the gifts that He wants to give.
Change is an opportunity to fully experience the Holy Spirit.
This is just the beginning.
As King David prayed: “Fill me with joy in Your presence”, I was reminded that the Holy Spirit will fill me if I ask. When Mary was visiting with Elizabeth soon after her encounter with the Holy Spirit, she was facing a bigger life upheaval than most of us will ever experience. Her response was one of joy and peace. She tells Elizabeth, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46-47) These prayers, the Psalms and the Magnificat, have been a source of comfort and a reminder of God’s unfailing presence in a time when change is the only thing I can count on.
In this season of new beginnings, when you are about to embark on a fresh cut path— open your heart to the Holy Spirit and see what wonders He will work in your life. Remain open to Him despite the obstacles that may appear on this path. Allow the Holy Spirit to sing within you and remain still enough to hear His voice.
May the peace and joy of Christ remain with you as you venture out on your path and discover more fully who He is calling you to become, the gifts that He is stirring into flame, and the love that you were created to share with others. "
In this month of New Beginnings, remember that you do not have to enter this new year alone and on your own; the Holy Spirit is waiting for you to call upon Him.