When All the Change Gets to be Overwhelming

Nothing fits.

It was a frequent thought of mine not too long ago.

Clothes, places I’ve long held dear, songs I’ve always loved, communities I’ve been involved with, personal relationships, even my own skin.

It all felt scratchy, somehow.

I’d look in the mirror and not recognize myself. I’d look in my closet and want to donate every last article of outdated clothing to Goodwill. I’d look at the home phone and remember that my mom who used to call me every day isn’t able to call me at all anymore.

I’d sit in church and wish I was somewhere else. I’d drive past the grocery store I’ve shopped at for 11 years and wish it hadn’t moved to a new location across town. I’d watch my girls playing on their phones and wish for the days when they used to chase each other around the backyard for hours at a time.

Scratchy, I tell you.

My sister attributed it to midlife, which is a tad bit frustrating because I went through menopause six years ago (at the ripe old age of 41) and thought I was done with all that.

A friend told me I was feeling this way because of all the change—not only what I’ve mentioned here, but more than a year’s worth, one on top of another. Some big, some small; some merely inconvenient, some totally life-altering.

Whatever the cause, I had to find a way through it. So I did whatever any other sane, reasonable person would do after a stressful, exhausting season—eliminate half the food I eat for 30 days.

That’s right. No added sugar, grains, dairy products, preservatives and legumes for a whole month. Fun stuff, this Whole30 eating plan.

Randy and I started our little food adventure on Oct. 1 and ended it yesterday. Over the last four weeks, I’ve learned all sorts of things about myself, my tastes and my relationship with food. (For one thing, I missed coffee creamer terribly and never want to drink black coffee again.)

I’ll write more about this journey next week. Until then, here are some thoughts about change that might encourage you if everything is feeling scratchy in your world these days.

• Change is hard. Facing many changes at once is exponentially hard.

It would be nice if we could somehow schedule just one change at a time, but life rarely offers that convenience. In the midst of it all, however, it sometimes helps to acknowledge one simple truth: That even if what we are experiencing isn’t life-threatening or heart-breaking, it is a lot. And that alone makes it tough.

• There’s no going back.

Despite my good intentions, I’m never going to wear those clothes I haven’t touched for a decade. My mom is not going to call me to talk about recipes again. That Aldi store I shopped at for so many years is closed for good.

Those chapters are over. They may not seem complete to me, but they are done. Whether I like it or not, I have to move forward.

• You’re not alone in this.

As I haltingly tried to describe how I was feeling, my friend simply nodded in understanding. Yes, I might feel like nothing fits, but I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way. Somehow, that’s comforting to me.

• There is still joy to be found.

It’s easy to let the overwhelming stuff overshadow everything else, but life is still full of beauty and grace. It really is.

I’m discovering this even as I visit my mom at her long-term care home and interact with the caregivers and other residents. It never fails: I go to spend time with her, and I leave feeling blessed by the encounters I’ve had while I’m there.

• You will come out on the other side.

This is something else my friend told me, and you know what? I believe her.

I don’t know what “the other side” is going to look like exactly. But as Philippians 1:6 says, I’m confident that the One who began a good work in me (and you) will complete it—in His way, in His timing and according to His perfect plans.

In the meantime, everything is sure to be a bit more bearable now that I can have cream and sugar in my coffee again.

♥ Lois

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P.S. I’m linking up this week with Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, #HeartEncourgement and Grace & Truth.



31 Responses to When All the Change Gets to be Overwhelming

  1. Beautiful Lois and thank you for sharing what has undoubtedly been felt by most of us. Feeling the value of that conversation with your friend and your wise insight ☺️👍

  2. Hi Lois, I understand completely. I have two tweens and one teen. One night this week, I dreamed that I stuffed my face into a rack of their adorable baby clothes, and I sobbed, saying, “God, I miss their baby days so much!” I woke up with real tears! What I’m thankful for today is that every season has its joys and griefs, and that God allows us to be honest with him in each and every season. Blessings prayed for you today, friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Aw, Sarah … what a dream! We watched some old family videos the other day and it almost made my heart hurt because I so badly wanted one more chance to pick up my little one and give her a good squeeze! Like you, I’m grateful that God allows to be honest with Him in any season … what a comfort that is! 🙂

  3. Brenda says:

    Oh, Lois. ((Hug)) I understand. — Would that we could be privy to that planner-of-big-things. We’d surely schedule one at a time, and only one per couple of years, preferably. 🙂 I always enjoy your writing. Thank you for sharing. — btw, I was all done with menopause when I was 44. It’s nice to know someone else who went through it all early. At 46, I feel like an anomaly much of the time in that area. (Glad to be done though!) 🙂 ((xoxo))

  4. Naomi Fata says:

    I’m right there with you. This fall I went through so many changes at once! My best friend moved across the country, my kids went from being homeschooled to public school and we changed churches. I knew about all the changes in advance but found myself reeling in their wake.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Wow, Naomi … that is a LOT to go through at once! And yes … even if you know the changes are coming and you even planned for them to happen, they’re still unsettling, aren’t they. How are your kids doing in school? 🙂

  5. Kristi Woods says:

    Oh Lois, here’s a big (((HUG))) for you. Change is hard. I’ve often hit some pretty low lows after facing moving changes in the past. So.not.fun. Praise God for “the other side” however, and especially for the way you’re journeying this tough road with your mom. You’re a light, my friend. xo

  6. I announced to my husband at breakfast this morning a thought that came to me all at once as he and I and our youngest son settled in for our eggs and toast:
    Our oldest son has more people around his table than we do!
    Well, technically, the baby won’t be sitting at the table for a while, but the shrinkage around our table and the other changes to our family that go with it are before my eyes all the time.
    I especially appreciated your point that things will not be reverting to the old ways here either. It’s o.k. for me to move forward into new patterns and to throw overboard a lot of the “stuff” I’m hanging on to, just because I’m used to it being there. (I have dresses that pre-date my 27 year marriage. Hmmm . . .)

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Wow, Michele … that’s quite a thought about your son and his table! I have a lot of “stuff” I need to throw overboard too … I’m hoping to tackle some of that soon. But don’t be too quick to toss out your old dresses … fashion from the 80s is all the rage now, I hear. 🙂

  7. Giving up that cream is haaaard! I try to use half and half and no sugar, but it isn’t the same.
    Hope life smooths out a bit for you soon!

  8. Linda Stoll says:

    scratchy.

    oh yes, yes.

    change comes in torrents, doesn’t it. we don’t get to choose the timing. bummer.

    but all those losses, big and small, do need to be mourned. we each do that in our own unique ways.

    praying that you’ll know how best to grieve and find peace in the process, dear friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Torrents … now that’s a good way to describe it, Linda. The mourning process is interesting, isn’t it? It’s sort of seems like it comes a bit at a time for me right now. I also think of all the time I’m spending with my folks and how much harder that will make it when they’re gone … but then I also wouldn’t trade this time with them for anything. Yep, definitely scratchy! Hugs, friend. 🙂

  9. Dear Lois, what powerful lessons you’very learned in the last months! And what a brave and generous spirit to share them candidly. Last night Tom, our two oldest kids, and I had a rare evening together. On this side of many trials as a family, we were actually able to laugh and refer to our seasons of crazy. You’ll get there, too! In the meantime, prayers and blessings for coffee the way you like it and life to be less scratchy. XOXO

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Alice, I’m so glad you were able to have that rare family time together with your two oldest kids and husband. It’s encouraging to know that these seasons will someday trigger memories that bring smiles and funny stories. Thank you for your kind words, my friend … your presence here is a blessing to me!

  10. sue says:

    a great post! it’s hard and I think I like change until my favorite store changes or the time the service changes or a friend moves away. move on through and add double creamer! bless you.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Sue, isn’t it funny how those “little” changes can throw us for such a loop? I try to remind myself that I will get used to the new situation eventually because I always do, but I still don’t like it at the time! And amen on the double creamer! 🙂

  11. Lesley says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Lois! I know that scratchy feeling and your words encourage me in a situation where I’m facing change just now. It’s so important to remember that we’re not alone and that God will help us come out the other side.

  12. Trudy says:

    Thank you, Lois. You have made me feel less alone by sharing this. Change in the world around us is hard enough, but you have had such life-altering changes piled on you these last months. I could just see you watching your phone for your mom. It gives me tears in my eyes. I remember that feeling when my mom passed away, so reading this even many years later makes me long to talk to her again. I’m so sorry for this heavy burden, my friend. At the same time, I am so grateful you can go away from the care home feeling blessed. I know it’s not always easy to pull our gaze away from our burdens and open our heart to His beauty around us. God is so good to sprinkle in His joys to lighten the sorrow, isn’t He? I’m praying right now that God will give you strength and peace for each day!

  13. Beautifully said. I hate it when life is scratchy, but I learn so much when I step back and see how God works. ((Hugs)) friend.

  14. Lois, this post tugged at my heart strings, friend. Oh boy do I know this feeling well. As my kids grow up and face changes, sometimes it feels like I don’t quite know my life anymore! (We’re preparing for a big move next year, so it’s got me thinking.) But yes, He always brings us out on the other side.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I know what you mean about feeling like you don’t quite know your life anymore, Betsy. It makes me even more grateful for the stretching seasons that led up to these days … without them, I’d be continually tied up in knots! I hope the days and weeks leading up to your big move are both productive and full of peace. Hugs, friend!

  15. Karen F. James says:

    You couldn’t have described what I’ve been going through more accurately. I’m 53 and feel like I don’t know my world anymore , everything is upside down or so it feels. I’m scared, don’t want to be anywhere , frightened especially when I look at my grandchildren and the world they are born in. My faith is strong , it’s not a God problem I just feel adrift and lost at sea.
    Your post was comforting that I’m not the only one and I’m not crazy.
    Karen

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Karen, I’m so glad you took the time to comment last week. What you are going through sounds familiar… you are definitely not the only one, nor are you crazy! Praying for you right now, that this season will pass and your world will feel less upside down soon. Hugs, friend.

  16. Meg says:

    Lois, this season within the soul can be tough! I have been here more times than I can count, and always get tempted to run. Running was my default when I didn’t like something, but I am trying to dig my heels in now. I have heard of the 30 days of eating whole foods, was it you who posted on IG? Thank you for sharing your heart, friend. I pray whatever adventures come next you will be filled with God’s peace and presence.

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