Have you ever heard the old joke, “How many Baptists does it take to change a lightbulb?” The answer is: “Change?” All kidding aside, we all wrestle with change and we are affected by change in every aspect of our lives—we get older and things change, our kids, jobs, communities, politicians, laws, tastes in food, physical and mental ability, eyesight—it seems like things are changing all the time! It’s tough to cope and navigate through the ever-changing stages and seasons of life. All of us wrestle with change and all of us deal with change differently; some are change initiators and some are change resistors.
One year ago this week, I went to my doctor and prepared myself for the worst. Can you relate? In June 2015, I was struggling with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, heart palpitations (which turned out to be the beginning stages of coronary artery disease), and I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. I was in a lot of pain; my knees, feet, ankles, back, hips…just about everything…hurt! I just felt terrible. As a Christian Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor and Hospice Chaplain, I felt ashamed and knew that I wasn’t modeling a healthy lifestyle to the members of my family, my church or to the patients, families and other caregivers at Hospice. I felt like I was dishonoring God by not honoring the gift of my body.
I hit a major stumbling block in my life…myself. For years, and I mean decades, I had been neglecting my body, my emotional and mental needs, and everything seemed to be out of balance. I was having my daily quiet time with the Lord, spent time reading and praying, and I felt like I was effectively “doing all the right things,” but I still felt terrible, and so I wondered, “Why do I feel so bad?” I remember asking the Lord to really speak to me; no matter how difficult or painful it might be for me to hear—I really wanted to know how I could become healthy. I knew I had to have one of those difficult conversations with the Lord, with my medical providers and with my family members, and although it was tough, it led me down a better and healthier path. I became aware of where I was and soon discovered where God wanted me to be. I knew I had to change—no matter how difficult it might be.
Through the care, love and support of my wife, Jan, my family, and friends, and by receiving excellent physical and medical care and guidance, I was able to lose 120 lbs., and I feel so much better. Praise the Lord! I’m thankful and humbled that God has given me grace and is giving me the power to make real change in my life. It all started with a conversation and a willingness to be open to the idea of change.
I write all that to say…sometimes when we’re in pain, when we are struggling, when we feel helpless, hopeless, down and depressed, or feel like we’re tempted to pull away because of feelings of anger, shame or guilt, remember—God is still right beside you. He’s right beside us. As a Church Family, we sometimes experience pain—broken relationships, hurt feelings, disappointment that “things just aren’t the way they used to be.” We may feel like we’re unhealthy—and yet there is hope. Christ is the answer. He wants to change us through His grace, love and discipline so that we can be conformed and transformed into the image and reflection of Christ. But, we have to be willing to change. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (changed) by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2). Blessings~ Pastor Duane