Why Is It So Hard to Change?


The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with saying, “The only constant in life is change.” I would like to think otherwise, but life experience has shown me the truth of his words. We are all subject to this reality, yet many of us struggle with it. We often appreciate the results of change, but few of us enjoy the process of change.

I work with a lot of ambitious, growth-oriented Christian women who actively pursue personal and spiritual development. Even for these women who intentionally pursue change, the journey can be both exhilarating and daunting.

Whether you are pursuing a dream, changing your career, deepening your faith, improving your health, or working on a relationship, the process of change often feels like an uphill battle. In this month’s blog post, I’d like to explore why change can be difficult and share some insights I’ve gained along the way that help me navigate the inevitable changes of life. I cover this topic in much more depth in Chapter 3 of my book, Dare to Dream: The Art of Co-Creating with God, Volume 1: Building the Foundation.

I want to be clear that, as a Christian, I truly believe in the constant and unchanging nature of God. I am not calling that into question when I agree with the saying, “The only constant in life is change.”

What Comes to Mind When You Think About Change?

Change can evoke a wide range of positive emotions . . . excitement, motivation, and determination at the prospect of a fresh start. However, it is just as likely to trigger feelings of fear, doubt, and resistance. Do you welcome or resist change? Do you feel confident in your ability to follow through with changes that you want to make?

Our initial reaction to change often reveals our deeper beliefs and fears. If you welcome change, you probably see it as an opportunity for valuable growth. If you resist change, you may be afraid of the unknown or doubt your ability to succeed. Recognizing these feelings is the first step towards embracing change.

What Makes Change So Difficult?

Change can be challenging for some very understandable reasons. Normalizing these reasons can help us be a little more self-accepting as we navigate the inevitable changes of life. Let’s explore a few of them.

  • Uncertainty and Unpredictability: Any change has consequences, both anticipated and unforeseen. Some are wonderful, but others not so much. This unpredictability can create anxiety and make you hesitant to take the first step.
  • Identity and Self-Perception: Change may require letting go of who you think you are to become who you truly are, which can be frightening. It challenges your self-perception and forces you to confront aspects of yourself that you may not want to face.
  • Control and Trust: Even if we create a solid plan, God often changes our plans, requiring us to trust Him with unexpected twists and turns. This lack of control can be unsettling, making it difficult to stay committed to the process.
  • Time and Patience: We often underestimate how long change takes. Impatience can lead to frustration, especially when progress seems slow. You may start to doubt yourself or even blame God for not moving faster.
  • Internal Obstacles: Initiating change brings you face-to-face with your internal obstacles—negative thoughts, self-sabotaging behaviors, and deep-seated fears. Dealing with these issues is uncomfortable but necessary for transformation.
  • Messiness of Change: Change is rarely a neat process. It is often messy and chaotic, which can be discouraging. This messiness is a natural part of growth, but it can be difficult to navigate.
  • Spiritual Warfare: As Christians, we recognize that the enemy often tries to meddle when we pursue something important. Having to engage in spiritual battle can be a significant barrier, as we don’t always feel adequately equipped.

Since the only constant in life is change, we will all have to face these challenges in one way or another, whether we seek change or are impacted by change that we did not initiate. Understanding the reasons that change can be difficult may help us have more grace for ourselves when we are in the midst of it.

“To change what you get, you must change who you are.” This quote by Vernon Howard encapsulates the essence of transformation. It’s not just about achieving the goal or the dream but about becoming the person who can steward it well. That is God’s heart for all of us…to help us reach our potential by nudging us through life circumstances to become the best version of the person He created us to be. God won’t waste anything in our sanctification process.

While developing my coaching and counseling business and writing my Dare to Dream books, I had to change a LOT! These endeavors were (and continue to be) about growing, changing, and learning to co-create with God. If we can align our heart with His, we’ll have an easier time with change. In that context, I have learned five very important spiritual lessons that help me navigate the unpredictable changes of life.

Lesson #1: Everything happens in God’s timing and in His way.

Accepting that everything happens in God’s timing and in His way is not always easy. You may feel frustrated when things don’t unfold as quickly or in the way you’d like, but I have learned (often in retrospect) that God’s timing is perfect.

Trusting in His plan means letting go of your own timeline and expectations. In my own journey with Dare to Dream, I have experienced significant delays and setbacks. My timetable and God’s are often very different.

Lesson #2: Be careful in making assumptions about what God is saying.

We can misinterpret God’s directions when we rely solely on our own understanding. When making important decisions, be sure to include others vs. relying only on your own thoughts and perceptions.

When God gave me the green light in 2012 to start working on Dare to Dream, He told me to “start with my body.” Hmmmm…. I thought. After some consideration, I decided He must want me to get into great physical condition, so I invested in an intense home exercise program.

I soon learned that He wanted me to focus on healing my body, not getting it into shape. My incorrect assumption led to many injuries and setbacks. In retrospect, I realized I should have sought counsel and prayed for clarity before taking action.

I’ve learned to be more cautious about making assumptions. It helps to avoid unnecessary pain and disappointment. Discuss your revelations with trusted mentors and friends and pray for discernment to ensure you’re on the right path.

Lesson #3: God’s way of unfolding a dream often does not make sense until later.

God’s plans often don’t make sense in the moment. Sometimes it is in hindsight that we see the wisdom of His ways. During the difficult times while developing Dare to Dream, I struggled to understand why certain things were happening. Looking back, I see how each challenge prepared me for the next step in my journey.

Choose to trust that God knows what He’s doing, even when you don’t understand it. This is not always easy. Do your best to remain open to His guidance, knowing that His ways are always higher than ours.

Lesson #4: God doesn’t stop until his work is done.

Philippians 1:6 assures us that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion. God is relentless in His pursuit of our growth and transformation as He sanctifies us through life circumstances.

Whatever you are involved in, He will use it for your benefit. No matter how long it takes or how many obstacles you face, He will not stop until His work in you is done. That is the good news and the bad news. God will place the right people in your path and provide the resources you need to continue your journey.

Lesson #5: We must often fight for our dreams.

Pursuing your goals and dreams requires vigilance and perseverance. The enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking to devour your hopes and dreams (1 Peter 5:8). Recognizing the adversary’s efforts to derail us and learning to combat those efforts through prayer and faith is crucial.

Stepping into your God-given dreams (no matter how big or small) triggers spiritual battles. You may have to learn to identify the enemy’s tactics and then choose to rely on God’s strength to overcome them.

Embracing the Change Process

Change happens on many levels – mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. No wonder it can be so difficult to navigate! It is important to focus on a positive mindset (not always easy), to acknowledge and honor our emotions (not always easy), to take appropriate actions (not always easy), and to stay grounded in our faith (not always easy). Here are a few things that have been helpful to me:

  • Pray for clarity and wisdom.  Ask God to reveal His plans for you and to guide your steps. Trust that He has a purpose for your journey, even when it may be difficult to see.
  • Take small steps. Break down your goals into manageable steps. Celebrate small victories along the way and be patient with yourself when progress is slow.
  • Feel your feelings. Change can bring up difficult emotions. Acknowledging your feelings is the key to moving through them more quickly.
  • Surround yourself with support. We all need support. Spouses, partners, mentors, friends, and prayer partners can provide valuable insights and help you stay on track.
  • Stay persistent. Change is a process, not an event. Commitment and perseverance are key to success, especially when facing setbacks.

I do believe that if we do our best, God will handle the rest. But we must be willing to let Him handle the rest His way ;-). By understanding the challenges inherent in change and choosing to trust God in the process, I pray that you will navigate the change process with more confidence and grace.

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