I started 2015 prepping for a lot of impending change. We were moving to a new city and saying goodbye to some dear people as well as many other structural supports that essentially built a wall of protection around me during my war with inordinate fear. What would I do without that wall?
Change, even good change, is difficult and scary for someone like me. That’s not an excuse. It’s just a fact. If I don’t prep for it or gain perspective quickly once it happens, my ability to adapt is like that of a fit throwing toddler. That’s why it’s sometimes easier just to stay stuck.
I worked with my therapist the entire month of January 2015 to prep for the upcoming changes that would happen in my life. She helped me see that although change is difficult, it also brings with it the opportunity to build new associations in my brain. On a new, fresh day I haven’t done the things of yesterday, so I can choose new ways of living, or in other words, choose to associate with all things good or pure or true. It’s like Anne of Green Gables once said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” As a new day and new year begins, the more I choose to associate with good things, the more they overpower the old things.
Exhibit A of this concept: My stoves in the picture above. On the left you will see my Arlington small space living stove. I checked and double-checked this stove countless times to make “sure” it was off. Although I gained a lot of victory over this fear before I left Arlington, the fear was still strong. Even if I behaved right and didn’t re-check it, I would still have these nagging obsessions up to the end: Is it off, are you sure it’s off, maybe you got distracted, you don’t really know, you should go back and check it to be sure. After understanding the nature of OCD, I learned not to give into these obsessions by checking, but the thoughts and fears didn’t stop as quickly as they did in other areas. But in my new Omaha apartment, I had never been a slave to checking a stove, so I could build a new association with the new stove. And guess what, I did it. As I was tempted to go down the path of checking, I told myself I didn’t have to go down that road because it was an opportunity to build a new association, a new path, and choose faith. By God’s grace, I haven’t let this stove enslave me. It took a few months, but the power of that stove checking fear and obsession is so much less. The nagging thoughts of being “sure” it is off have stopped for the most part because I built new associations in the way I was going to behave. Now, I don’t leave my house and continue to obsess about if my stove and oven is off.
Sure sometimes I double-check or slip up in my fear or the “what-if” fears come. But in those times the Holy Spirit meets me and reminds me that in Christ, I am dead to fear but alive in Him (Romans 6:11). The old has gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). New mercies are given each day (Lamentations 3:22-23), each year, so we have the power to associate with and give all allegiance to our Savior.
So as we begin this new year, and purpose to have a Happy 2016, may it be a year we show our true allegiance to King Jesus by embracing His new mercies each day. When we embrace new mercies we are building new associations by putting off the old, renewing our minds, and putting on the new (Ephesians 4). Christ is worthy of all our devotion and he has given us all the grace and power we need to live in the goodness of newness of life.