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The Gravity of the Familiar

Change. Most of us hate it. Everything from adopting a new normal after tragedy has struck to sitting in a different row at church, is enough to send many of us over the edge. Unless the change is our idea, we’re going to have strong negative feelings about the idea of doing something different.

It’s one of the reasons why drug addicts stay addicted, spenders stay broke, alcoholics keep drinking, the abused stay with the abuser. Even if the change promises infinitely better results than our current experience, with proven results from others, it’s oftentimes too much of a risk to take the plunge.

I was especially struck by this phenomenon while listening to a presentation by someone who runs a crisis pregnancy center, a place where women get free health care from conception to delivery. One girl in particular had actually left an abortion clinic and instead of going through with the abortion that day, got involved with this ministry. She was on track, going to her appointments, getting the care she needed only to eventually return to the clinic and have the abortion. I’ll never forget the words of the presenter:

“She couldn’t resist the gravity of the familiar.”

Isn’t that all of us? We wallow in our muck and mire because as painful as it may be, it’s familiar. We know what to expect, it’s controlled. The comfort of the knowable. The gravity of the familiar.

In negative situations remaining in the comfort of familiarity leads to spiraling down a dark hole where the light at the top becomes more dim the farther we fall.

The last two and a half years have been full of change. At one point the only thing that hadn’t changed was my address. Everything else was different. My job. My husband’s job. The method of schooling for our son. Sending our daughter to college. Within three months it was all different. I couldn’t have been more uncomfortable if I’d tried.

All of the changes were good, but I found myself pining after the old job I’d left, the one I couldn’t wait to get out of, the one that was replaced by a job doing exactly what I’d gone to college for. I wanted the old job back. It was familiar and required very little of me beyond being awake.

I wanted my husband to have his summers off the way he had for the last 14 years as a teacher despite the fact that his new job was a breath of fresh air.

I wanted my daughter home safe and sound instead of at a school she’d worked hard to get into, the school where her father and I had met, a place she’d always wanted to go.

I wanted my son back in a regular classroom because it was easier, and he’d be around his friends even though it was a much better fit for him.

All of the changes we were experiencing were good but we were uncomfortable, and I would have gone back to my miserable existence if given the chance because I was scared.

The thing I’ve learned about God is that He really isn’t the least bit concerned about our comfort. Why should He be? He was anything but comfortable while His Son hung on a cross with the weight of the world’s sin bearing down on Him.

His chief aim is to form us to the likeness of His Son, and because we look nothing like Him, doing so requires a bit of effort and a level of unfamiliarity that we humans are not comfortable with.

While I don’t care to relive certain moments in my life, I am grateful for the effort God puts in to making me more like Him no matter how uncomfortable and unfamiliar the path.

 

 

 

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