The Challenge of Change

By Maria Ciola

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Try telling this to an overwhelmed college senior about to jump headlong into “real-life,” and see the reaction you get!

That senior was me six months ago. I’m not kidding when I tell you it’s been one of the most challenging life-transitions I’ve experienced. Life is constantly changing and it doesn’t wait for us to play catch-up. Oftentimes, change is uncomfortable and even painful, but out of the struggle there always comes growth.

An incredible four-year chapter of my life was closing abruptly as graduation day closed in. Moving into this new chapter of adulthood, I didn’t have so much as a table of contents to help me figure out what the heck I was supposed to be doing. It was a time of major change, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and I was not a fan. My relationship with God up until that point was pretty decent, but where was God now? What I really needed was for Him to hand me the next blueprint so I could plan out my life ASAP. I waited for a hot second, but I couldn’t wait any longer. My best friends had moved to all corners of the United States with new jobs and lives. Communication began to dwindle, loneliness set in, and my fear of losing everyone I loved was becoming a reality.

At the time, these thoughts and emotions were very real for me. What I didn’t consider, or didn’t trust, was that someone was right by my side only asking me to do my best and leave the rest to Him. Did I listen? Debatable. I came up with a career plan and proceeded to execute. Have you ever heard the saying, “tell God your plans and watch him laugh”? Yeahhhhh. So, as my plans didn’t go the way I wanted them to, I began to get overwhelmed, anxious, and felt completely alone… all because I hadn’t been listening.

One of the last weeks of school, a FOCUS missionary friend of mine reminded me of the verse from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” It hit me like lightning. Perhaps God could have a slightly better plan for me and all He needed was my “yes” to proceed. Right after graduation, I found myself praying more than usual because I needed Him. My relationship with Christ started deepening and I was talking with Him like my dearest friend. Soon enough, I got a great job, old friends started calling, new friends were made, adventures were had, healing came, and the loneliness started slipping away because I realized I could never ever be alone. My relationship with God transformed into an intimacy that I have never have imagined. I experienced the love of God in the most real, raw and vulnerable way possible.

Training grounds for virtue. That’s what each chapter of life is. Different training grounds, different obstacles, same purpose. Guys, I urge you to stick with the grind when it gets hard, day after day. This whole post-grad thing has been a challenge to change, quite painful to be honest, but without the struggle, I don’t know where I’d be.

Each day is an opportunity to get up, chin up, and face the daily challenges that God gives us with confidence. He is with us, helping us if we let Him. Learning to endure the temporary pain of change, “no pain no gain,” and knowing we’ll be better because of it, we can fight for the person we want to become with confidence and joy. I can say with a smile on my face and confidence in my heart that I have grown from this challenge to change. I am not the same person I was fresh out of college. I am stronger, I am confident, and I know I am exactly where God wants me to be. You are too. God wants to give your life meaning and purpose beyond your wildest dreams! He knows the plans He has for you, let Him give you a future to hope for.