One well-established fact about me is that I detest change. Actually, I have a love-hate relationship with it. It does all the loving, showing up when I would rather it didn’t, and I do all the hating.
The first major change in my life was moving countries. Before that, I moved schools in Lagos. I also “graduated” from being the last born to the second of three – and then four – children. But those changes weren’t so bad. At least, they were not as catastrophic as moving countries.
To be fair, I actually enjoyed moving countries. I was seven and fascinated by well-constructed roads and Caucasians, so moving to a country where there would be both was a twofold wonder for me. Seven-year-old me was in the clouds.
But after the childish dillydallying came real life. And real life came with a host of other unpleasant changes.
I changed provinces, changed friends, changed schools, changed homes. I also changed accents, and learnt a new national anthem (and forgot mine in the process).
Finally, I even had to change my way of thinking.
Facing the “Devil” of Change
I began to notice as a young TCK in South Africa that change was inevitable. From things as minor as not kneeling down when greeting someone (a sign of respect unheard of in southern Africa), to being reprimanded when I refused to call an adult by their first name (which I thought, and still think, is extremely disrespectful). Slowly, I lost more and more of my “Nigerian-ness” until I had the conglomeration of a unicorn – neither West African nor fully South African.
My lack of full conformation to either culture has led me to detest who I have become. I told myself that I would never fit in with the people here in my country of residence nor with those in my homeland. And as self-deprecating as that sounds, it is in most parts true.
As a default, I fell headlong into the trap of making a “devil” of any change – whether good or bad. I fought tooth and nail to keep things within reasonable parameters of “normal,” whatever “normal” meant for me.
My coping mechanism when things were not as “normal” as I thought they should be was to ignore them. I would read a book, go outside, put on music – anything to ignore the situation at hand.
I wouldn’t think to pray back then. Prayer, I thought, was too primitive a way of dealing with my “very serious” problems.
It took me many years to realise that giving my problems the silent treatment was the least effective way of dealing with them. Instead of helping, it compounded the load of confusion and anger within me and made me a graveyard of hurt and vengeful feelings.
I have only recently begun discovering that change can also be a blessing. Here are three ways that the “devil” of change can work for our good:
1. Change Points Us to the Cross
It wasn’t until I returned to my Saviour as a prodigal daughter, 11 years after arriving in South Africa, that I found a proper burying place for my hurt – at the foot of His cross.
Only at the foot of the cross can we find relief from the burdens we have carried for however long. While the world around us changes, it is the cross that remains firm still. It becomes our anchor in an ever-changing world. Christ becomes our rock of stability and a strong tower against the strong winds of change in our lives so that we can safely say, as David did:
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy." Psalm 61:1-3 KJV
2. Change Shapes Us to be Better
When I was less versed in the ways of the world, I lived in a cocoon of self-centredness and comfort. God was simply “the big man in the sky,” who made sure I had enough food to eat and that I came back safely from school every day.
When I was moved out of my comfort zone, all such childish impressions safely and surely vanished. I was thrown “into the deep end,” and as I struggled for breath, “the big man in the sky” became more than that. He became the very oxygen that I needed for survival. He became my Saviour.
My relationship with God was established, reshaped, and made better through the changes and challenges that I have navigated in my life.
Similarly, God wants to use the many peculiar trials we face as TCKs to not only give us more spiritual strength, but more emotional stability, more trust, and more grace. He wants to use our trials to shape us to be better Christians.
The Bible says that we should count it all joy when we are faced with different types of temptations and trials because the trying of our faith and trust in God builds in us patience. Patience is a virtue that works to change us for the better, leaving us perfect and entire, wanting in nothing (James 1:1–3).
3. Change Points Us to the Author of Good Change
It was a year ago when God started to teach me to trust Him and to speak to Him about my hurts and frustrations. Going about it my own way was not going to be of any help.
Friend, as hard as it is to think, not all change is bad. If we believe that God is always at work in our hearts and lives, and is ultimately sovereign, we know that nothing can happen to us that is out of His knowledge or control. After all, His Word says that He will never suffer us to be tempted more than we are able to bear (I Cor. 10:13). All the changes we face, and the trials that come along with them, work together so that He might be glorified in us and through us if we will only let Him.
Like me, you might also be struggling to accept the many shifts and turns that frequently face you. Yes, change is hard, more often than not. Even good change – like entering into a first relationship – can be overwhelming at first. But He has promised that when we are lacking in strength, He is there to help us. He, the Creator God, doesn’t faint, and neither does He ever get weary of helping us when we are helpless to help ourselves. The Bible says:
“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29–31 KJV
Sometimes God allows us to go through the motions of change and all the nauseating questions that come with it. But as He leads us through that desert, He also offers shade and refreshment through His Word and through prayer.
With these two essentials, He authors our outlook on the situations we face. He helps us to see them all as working together for His good and to the glory of His name. Yes, not only is He the Author of good change, but He is also the Author of a better attitude towards the changes that occur in our day-to-day lives.
TCKs for Christ: Writer
is an avid dreamer, writer, and unapologetic Christian. As her name states, her one purpose in life is to spread joy wherever it is needed. Formerly a PK, she has lived in South Africa as a TCK for most of her life. She enjoys reading, writing, and playing the piano. Connect with her on D’JoyGene or Instagram, @DJoyGene