Faith, Trusting God

Unexpected: How Do We Handle Change?

Meme that says Plot Twist super-imposed over a pic of a snow-covered tree

@JeanneTakenaka

In May, I participated in a twelve-day Instagram writer’s challenge. It was both stretching and fun. We were given a different word each day and created posts about those words relating to our writer’s life. 

As I contemplated each word, I discovered correlations between writing life and real-life. I’ve expanded on the original posts, and I’d love to read your thoughts on these words as they relate to your life as well.

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I might take ridiculous pleasure in creating plot twists for my stories. Maybe I’m a little mischievous because I enjoy watching my characters struggle. Mostly I enjoy it because I know they’re going to learn and grow through the challenge.

Can I just be honest and say that I’m not fond of real-life plot twists? Torn ACL’s, snow days in May (yes, we had a snow day on May 21st this year, with three days left in the school year), and other challenges that force a change to the rhythms of my days? 

Perhaps, it’s that I don’t like not knowing what I can expect. Or, it could be (ahem) that I like being in control. Whatever it is, when a plot twist turns me from my anticipated path, I must decide how I’ll handle change.

Here’s the thing. It’s when God writes a plot twist into my story that I learn to seek Him and cling tightly. When the unexpected happens and Hubs has to travel on a surprise business trip, or we find out about loved ones’ health failing, or something serious is happening with one of our boys, or we face disappointment . . . God knows what’s needed to help me grow through the challenges. 

White flowers with the sun shining behind them

When plot twists enter our lives, we always have a choice. We can try to control the situation and keep things the same. Or, we can choose to lean into the changes, and look for God’s fingerprints in the situation.

When we try to force things to stay the same, we will probably end up feeling frustrated, angry, and eventually, bitter. And here, again, we make a choice. Will we still believe God is who He says He is when we’re in that frame of mind, or will we give up on God and follow Frank Sinatra’s example of doing it our own way?

Meme that says, "When circumstances leave us confused and questioning, we always have One we can turn to." on a backdrop of leaves on a broken twig

When the unexpected happens in our lives, and the things we thought we knew and believed are flipped upside down, that’s when faith is truly tested. When circumstances leave us confused and questioning, we always have One we can turn to.

God knows the things we face will sometimes be painful. He also knows the beauty He can create from the pain, if we choose to trust Him, to cling to Him. 

Knowing this doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to navigate the circumstance. But knowing He walks with us—guiding our every step—offers us peace. And, when we choose to trust God when we don’t understand, when the pain stabs sharp, our Father is blessed. And, He draws near to us. 

A few trees surrounding the tree that was struck by lightning

Chances are good most of us won’t be stuck in the “hard” forever, we will come through it. When we trust the Lord, we have the opportunity to grow . . . 

closer to our Father, 

as human beings, 

and in how we can help and encourage others. 

But we must choose . . . will we turn away from, or toward, our Father? That one decision makes all the difference.  

A grove of aspen trees in a forest

Turning away from God gives us the perceived control and a whole lot of pain. Turning toward Him means we choose to relinquish control and lean into His strength.

The Author of our faith and lives knows what we need to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Thankfully, He’s not mischievous or capricious in how He writes the chapters of our lives. 

A stump with a bush with red berries nearby.

Like my characters, I’m learning to lean into the twists in life and to trust my Father. And He graciously meets me in each unexpected happening and reminds me how much He loves me.

What about you? How have you handled the plot twists in your life? What helps you to choose to trust God when you walk through painful circumstances?

Click to Tweet: When circumstances leave us confused and questioning, we always have One we can turn to.

I’m linking up with #TellHisStory and #RaRaLinkup

35 thoughts on “Unexpected: How Do We Handle Change?”

  1. Kindhearted friends advise me
    to give in, and heed the pain.
    But to me, surrender’s misery,
    and this I shall maintain.
    I’ve lost enough to cancer’s teeth
    to fill a junkyard to the sky,
    and now we’ll learn what lies beneath
    my character as head stays high.
    I do not do ‘concession’;
    it’s not a welcome grace.
    Far better the repression
    of things that I won’t face.
    The end result may be the same,
    but it matters how you play the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, your final line says so much. No matter what we face, it’s less about what we face and more about how we face it. Your grit and determination as you battle this disease is inspiring. I’m praying for you, my friend.

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  2. So true that it’s not the presence of the “plot twists” that throw us into a tailspin, but rather how we choose to handle them. Thank you for encouragement to take them in stride as part of God’s sovereign plan for that day or that season!

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    1. I like the way you say it, Michele: “to take them in stride as part of God’s sovereign plan . . . ” yes. When we trust God’s leading it’s a little easier to let go of my agenda and take those plot twists in stride. Thanks for your wisdom, friend!

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  3. In the past, I fought plot twist with tooth and toenail. LOL. But the Lord has taught me to lean in and learn of Him. This year has been one continual plot twist. I’ve been tempted to walk away from writing because of so many interruptions. But, I know that I can never do that. I’m not a quitter. If it’s for me to walk away then God will let me know that, too. Great post, Jeanne. Blessings.

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    1. Gail, that leaning in and learning of Him seems to only come with age and wisdom, doesn’t it? I’m sorry your life has been one big plot twist. I’ve had those times too. And yes, the temptation to walk away from something like writing is so real sometimes. I guess, even in that, we talk with God and find out His thoughts before making that decision. I’m like you…I’ve considered it, but I can’t do it, don’t feel like it’s time to do that yet (or at all . . .). Thanks for sharing here!

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  4. Funny, I read your blog the same morning I was trying to come up with some fun new plot twists for my WIP! Ha! You are absolutely right, though–it’s not the twists we experience but how we behave that matters. Do we cling to God or run from Him? Do we trust Him or the world?

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    1. I laughed when I read this, Jessica! Those plot twists for our characters can be tricky to create. 🙂 May we both cling to God in the writing plot twists and in the real-life plot twists. 🙂 Thanks for the smile!

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  5. Great reminder, Jeanne, that we can either try to control the plot twists in our lives to make them comfortable for us, or we can surrender to the One who controls the universe and find rest in His plans for our lives. Shouldn’t be that much of a choice, should it? Thank you for sharing. Blessings!

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    1. Lisa, you bring up a good point. Sometimes we resist life’s plot twists or we try to make them comfortable for us. Somehow, God has a way of not letting us become too comfortable in our lives, even when we try to set ourselves up for comfort. It is in the surrendering our will to God’s that gives us the ability to rest, even when the plot twists are painful. Thanks so much for sharing your insight!

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  6. My husband and I have experienced unexpected change recently. We are moving. God has provided a beautiful townhouse just a few streets away from where we live now. 🙂

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    1. Melissa, God must have the perfect place picked out for you and your husband to live. I hope your move goes smoothly. Even when it’s just a few streets away, moves can provide their own sort of plot twists. 😉

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  7. A story isn’t a good story without a plot twist, an antagonist and conflict! It’s how are characters grow. But with writing stories, we have a choice on how it ends. When surrendering to God’s plan, we don’t know what is around the corner. My job has taken a plot twist this past year and still in the uncertainty! One day at a time of trusting, persevering, and keeping the goal in mind of drawing deeper into His promises is how I try to navigate those plot twists. Love the tree shots!!

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    1. Lynn, you’re right. Real-life plot twists don’t guarantee an easy resolution or a happy ending. But, when God is in control we can trust that He walks with us and that those twists and turns in life will draw us closer to Him. I’m sorry your job has you in an uncertain place. I’m saying a prayer for you today, friend!

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  8. Jeanne,
    We used to have a 90 lb. black lab mix, named George, who like to ride shotgun in my minivan when I ran errands while the kids were in school. George seemed to know instinctively that every time we went around a bend or made a turn, he had to lean “into” the turn. That’s kind of like me with change. I often want to pull away from the direction life is taking me, but that ultimately knocks me off balance. It takes more effort to lean into the curve – lean into God, but that’s where we find the sweet spot. The more I see God taking me through changes, trials, and curves in the road, the more I trust HIS way of getting me through. He DOES know what He’s doing…great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Bev, I liked your word picture about how George leaned into the turns. What a great illustration of what we need to do with the Lord. And you’re right. It does take more effort to lean into the curve and lean into God, in the beginning. And finding that sweet spot in the middle of the unexpected is a beautiful thing! thanks for sharing your life lessons here, friend!

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  9. This really spoke to me. Currently, I’m in a season of learning to lean into God for direction more than ever. There are been a lot of “plot twists” and each one has challenged me to elevate my faith and trust Him. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Nia, being in a position of learning to lean on God can be uncomfortable and painful. But, I will be praying that He makes His presence so known to you during this season that you find yourself drawing close to Him. Like you, I’ve found that the plot twists God allows into my life strengthen. my faith and trust in Him. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your story here.

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  10. “God knows what’s needed to help me grow through the challenges.” This is so true. So beautiful how God has and is still gifting you wisdom that is now pouring out onto the page, into the characters in your stories, through the unique heart of creativity He has given you. May He bring these stories to hearts that need to be encouraged in their own plot twists that God is with them.

    I am starting to see how God has used every single plot twist to grow and mould me – even the ones where I turned away from Him. He has become my choice, but only because HE has worked the trust of Jesus deep inside my heart. I seriously cannot claim any part in what has all been HIS doing in me. He took me through each and every plot twist in my life to open my eyes more and more to who He is – and He continues to do so. Now I see Him where I never saw Him before and I know there is more to come…we never stop growing in Him.

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    1. Anna, you are right. Our loving Father does use every single plot twist to grow and mould us. And I’m so thankful He gives us second chances after we turn away from Him, or the opportunities He offers us to grow. You have a beautiful testimony woven through your life by God. It sounds like He has deepened your relationship with Him in amazing ways. May we continually seek to grow in our relationship with Him. Thank you so much for sharing bits of your story here.

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  11. Great insight. I never thought about God allowing or writing plot-twists into our real lives. And I love how you remind us we have a choice between trying to control the situation or lean into the changes and look for God’s fingerprints. Yes!

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    1. Thank you, Karen. I hadn’t really considered plot twists in real life until I did the Instagram challenge in May. 🙂 But, I’ve been thinking a lot about it since then. 🙂 I’m so thankful that, when we choose to seek God amid the change, He directs our paths and leads us in the ways we should go. Thanks so much for visiting!

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  12. I love the images you include in this wonderful message. We don’t always handle change well. But we have a great God to look to as we need to adjust our lives. God bless!

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  13. We can well relate Jeanne. When God turned our world upside down and lead us into and through homelessness it was the mother of all changes. We had daily plot twists that would make Agatha Christie blush. 🙂 Despite this we are so thankful for the experiences He gave us and the uncompromising faith He grew in us. To learn how to navigate the daily world of survival was a challenge for our family but He proved Himself faithful and true every time. Thank you for the encouragement.

    Blessings,
    Homer Les
    http://www.uncompromisingfaith.ca

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    1. Homer, it does seem as though unexpected circumstances either draw us closer to God or we turn away from Him. I can only imagine how challenging it was for your family to be without a home. I’m glad you saw His presence and working in your life. Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your story here!

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