The struggle is real: Living and learning with change


As I was perusing the wide world of social media the other day, I came across a post from a coffee shop I enjoy in Huntington, West Virginia.

In their post, they excitedly announced they were on the verge of opening yet another location in the region. They provided several pictures to allow current and potential customers to preview their new location and hopefully to generate some excitement and interest in their new opportunity.

Initially, I was unreasonably excited. I will be visiting Huntington in the next week and immediately began considering when I could grace them with my patronage.

But as I continued looking at the images on my screen, I came to a concerning realization: The new location of this coffee shop was the old location of another coffee shop I used to frequent with some regularity.

Suddenly, my excitement for the new coffee shop was replaced with a sense of sadness at the loss of the old coffee shop and perhaps a small amount of frustration that the new coffee shop would dare to take the place of the old coffee shop.

With the limited information available to me, I decided to do some cyber sleuthing. I wanted to know why my beloved purveyor of overpriced coffee was no longer present in its proper place. A quick Google search later, I discovered an article announcing the departure of said store from said location.

In the article, it explained the parent company had decided to close that location along with more than 100 others in order to focus on opening more freestanding stores that allowed for more drive-thru and curbside service. The article further explained this decision was made due to the continued realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and a continued decline in foot traffic at malls across the country. The logic was undeniable, but it was of little consolation to me at the moment.

I have lived in Seymour for just shy of five years now. I had not darkened the door of the old coffee shop at any point during that time, and had I not already been planning to meet with a friend for coffee in that area in the coming weeks, I would not have darkened the door of the new location in the future.

Regardless of who filled that storefront, it would have absolutely no impact on my life, yet for some reason, it had an impact on my emotions. I felt a sense of loss as if an old friend was no more.

Change is hard. I’ve understood this from an intellectual standpoint for quite some time now. In fact, many books on leading change warn the sense of loss most of us feel as a result of change is emotionally processed in the same way we process death.

During the particular season of life in which I find myself, I not only understand intellectually, I am feeling it personally. In recent months, my firstborn has moved to college, which has resulted in my youngest moving into her room and moving her into his old room. I felt a tinge of sadness every time I passed her empty room, but now that I see all of his things in the space that was hers, I feel it all the more.

It’s a reminder that the change is permanent and what was will never be again. Much like the coffee company mentioned above, I recognize the world was changing before the pandemic and change was accelerated by the pandemic.

For almost two years, we’ve been forced to constantly reinvent how we do church, how we minister to the needs of our people and how we reach out to care for our community. While we may return to some degree of pre-COVID normalcy, it is undeniable that for better and/or worse, things have changed and will not be the same again. The struggle, as they say, is real.

The words of King Solomon, one of the wisest people to ever live, continue to ring true these many centuries later: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Initially, these words may seem to contradict what I’ve previously written, but they don’t. The truth is that one of the few constants through the ages is change. Whether it be in our homes, in our churches or in a business many miles away, change will keep coming at us.

If we are to continue to have meaningful interactions that will allow us to make an impact in the midst of our changing realities, we must learn and grow through our discomfort. We must acknowledge the sadness of the losses we experience. We must understand the new opportunities that emerge through the loss. And we must learn to live in and to live out the grace of God in meaningful ways through it all.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].

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