Today I was driving with my teenage son in the car. This kid. I love this kid. He has faced some pretty tough situations the past year and a half. The things he has faced have changed him. And for a year and a half I think I’ve been trying to bring back a part of him that has changed.
Before his first run-in with major adversity, he was really outgoing. His dad and I have always said, “he can literally make a friend ANYWHERE!” He is an only child but that never kept him from finding someone to play with on the playground. He easily made friends wherever he went.
But now? After? He’s not the same.
We took him to counseling and each time we went I found myself saying “he just isn’t the same.” And now that I look back, I was hoping she could help us “fix him” and bring back his old self.
Fast forward to today in the car. We had music on but we weren’t talking. Not because we were upset with each other, but because this is his new normal. He doesn’t talk much in the car. For some reason I said, “Do you know the difference between an introvert and an extrovert?” And he said, “Yeah, dad and I are introverts and you’re an extrovert.”
I almost forgot to breathe when he said that. I was thinking “no honey, you’re an EXTROVERT. Remember all those times on the playground? at the mall? in the store? in school?” But no. He self-identified as an introvert. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!
He’s not the same.
My extrovert is gone!
You know how the female brain works, right? In the time it took to drive exactly one exit at approximately 70mph – I had a full-blown therapy session. In my head. Without saying a word.
I can’t believe he just said that!
Well, why is it so hard to believe? He’s different now.
Yeah, but he was always the kid who could make a friend no matter what.
I can’t believe how much his struggles have changed him.
It makes me sad that he has changed so much.
But wait … remember when you got sick, Ann? You changed, too.
And there it was. There was the teachable moment the Lord was trying to show me.
Change. It happens.
And honestly? It’s normal.
And … it’s usually good.
I felt like the Lord was saying, “Ann, you are constantly playing tug-of-war with me. I try to show you new things and you get excited – and then you tug and tug and want to go back to the way things were. If you stay the same, I can’t use you in the ways I have planned.”
Y’all, I could have wrecked our truck right then and there. Or at least pulled over and breathed deeply into a paper bag.
I often read books about improving myself and changing – but often times, I just don’t want to. Change is hard. Sometimes it’s too hard.
But it’s true, I’ve changed. I’m not the same person I was 5 years ago, and truthfully I can see signs of change from even just 3 months ago. Some of the changes that have happened within me took so much work. I worked hard to change:
- thoughts that reeked with negativity
- poor self-care habits
- zero personal schedule boundaries
- a mouth that loved gossip because it made me feel better about myself
- a weak private life with the Lord
- complaints about my husband
Why would I be sad about changing those things? I shouldn’t be! I should be celebrating a change in every single one of those things. But the vehicle that brought me to those changes was a chronic illness. My son’s vehicle has been physical pain and mental anguish. And one of his changes is that he’s now an introvert.
I don’t know what your vehicle is or what change is on the horizon, but my encouragement to you is to embrace it. Change is normal and it will happen again and again in our lives. Aren’t you glad you’re not your 13-year-old self? Or even your 20-year-old self?
I have learned solid leadership skills from some incredible leaders around me – but putting them into action required change. I have lost weight and I exercise my body – but getting into a rhythm of good habits required change. I have grown in my personal relationship with the Lord – but setting aside time to be in the Word required change.
Even though change has become my new normal, it was hard for me to accept the change that has happened within my son. And isn’t it interesting that HE has made peace with it but I hadn’t?
When I dropped him off I hugged him a little too tight. “Ugh, mom! You’re hurting my cheek!” he fussed. Someday (when he’s not a teenager and he again values my thoughts and opinions) I will tell him about the time his words helped me appreciate the changes the Lord allowed within him – just like I’ve grown to appreciate the changes the Lord has allowed in me.
I love the story the Lord is writing in him. And I love that I can learn from anyone, even a teenager.
… but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. – Romans 5:3-4