I like cooking. I haven’t always liked it, and I never set out to become proficient at it, but over the years I’ve developed an ease, comfort, and confidence in the kitchen, my kitchen. As I rattled around my kitchen cooking dinner one evening, opening and closing drawers, cupboards, and refrigerator, retrieving necessary ingredients, spices, and utensils by muscle memory, and setting oven and stove to temperature and time by touch, I mused on an upcoming relocation that we had planned.
It was a move from one state to another, from one home to another. We were weeks away from the actual move, and had just started the packing process, but I still I found myself wondering where we would keep the spatulas, and if there would be room for extra bottles of olive oil and salad dressings. I considered the stained, partially charred oven mitts that I never had to search for and that were always just the right size. I knew they would not make the move, and that we would open the new kitchen with clean, colorful and burn proof mitts that I would search for repeatedly, and that would be too big or the wrong shape.
The fear of change
I realized with certainty that in the new house it would take months to regenerate the easy familiarity I had with things cuisine in the old home. And I felt anxious. At that moment I just wanted to be past the move, and to be done with the adjustment. I wanted to enjoy the mastery of cooking in the new place the same way I had in the old. This experience is just as clear to me as if it had happened yesterday, even though it was unplanned, involved no pain or trauma, and only lasted a moment. The fear of change.
Fear is like that, it creeps in quietly, and slowly, and doesn’t announce itself. It’s like fog covering a field. You don’t notice it gathering until it obscures something familiar. It can result in anything from a nagging irritation to an inability to consider or complete a change.
Ways to overcome the fear of change
Here are five things you can do to push back that fear when you face a significant change, be it positive or negative, and voluntary or involuntary:
- Recognize that the temptation to fear change is always present. It wouldn’t be “change” if there was no adjustment to make, or no uncertainty present
- Think back on other changes that you have negotiated over the years. Try to recall what concerns you had then and how the situation turned out. The years have a way of blurring our memory. Events that in retrospect we consider mundane or uneventful may have been somewhat frightful at the time. I have generally positive memories of my college years, but until I sat to write this I had forgotten that the weeks leading to my departure for college were laden with anxiety about that new chapter in my life
- Find a way to build some routine into the change. For the move I described above, My wife and I for months limited our packing to about an hour a day. We had the luxury of time, so we used it to whittle down what seemed to be the massive task of moving our household. The routine helped us recast the difficult and unfamiliar questions of “what are we going to do with _____?” into a regular discussion. After several of these discussions surrounding minor elements of the move, we gained enough insight and courage to tackle the more consequential questions
- Find something to look forward to during or after the change. This may be difficult especially if the change is negative or involuntary, but find something, even if just the passing of time, that will mark your transition, and celebrate it. Both times I went through chemotherapy I was always aware of my “count”-how many more sessions until I was done
- Seek allies! There is no change that you are going through that hasn’t been endured by others before, or that isn’t happening in someone else’s life now. They are out there, really. Go find them, spend time with them, listen to their stories, and tell them yours. Shared experiences prompt some of the closest bonds.
And here’s a bonus tip for those who have read this far: Share the hope. Be an encourager to those walking the same path of change you are, but who aren’t as far along. You know what it is like. You have both the recent experience and emotions that will let you speak with authority and compassion to the specific situation. But along with blessing another, it will provide you a framework to see how much has changed for you, and how you have changed, and provide some confidence for future change.
2 Corinthians 1:4 (New Living Translation) He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
Resource to Break Anxiety’s Grip
No question, we have a lot to worry about. Children, jobs, homes, health, finances, and more. The solution isn’t to rid ourselves of the sources of anxiety – as if we could. Instead, we need to recognize that anxiety originates from a spiritual influence and that we can fight back using the God-given weapons of power, love, and a sound mind.
We can discover true peace in an age of anxiety.
In Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, Dr. Michelle Bengtson shares her own story of emerging from the battle with anxiety as well as the stories of others. She reminds you of your identity as a follower of Christ and of the peace he promises you in spite of everything.
She provides tools to cope with the crushing emotional burden of anxiety now and, more importantly, shows you how to reclaim God’s peace as a way of life so that you can break anxiety’s grip.
Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBooks.com, Books-A-Million, and other fine book retailers.
Click here to learn more: Breaking Anxiety’s Grip