This whole computer nightmare has once again brought out how much I hate change. I prefer my comfort zone, thank you very much. I want my old systems, my documents, my photos, all of it, to be right where I put it. I want to be able to quickly find what I need. Never mind that there might be a new way or a better more efficient system. I don’t want to learn a new way, because I like the old way. I think it is one of the reasons I have such a resistance to technology. I don’t want to learn new devices or platforms. Every time they change the layout on Facebook, I am lost for weeks.
It took me years to switch from hand-writing to typing my writing. For a long time, I wrote everything in longhand and then typed it up after. I wanted my yellow legal pad and I liked the way the pencil felt in my hand. I didn’t believe I could think effectively while typing. So I did it the old way and was content to do so. But to get my pieces somewhere other than in my filing cabinet, I had to make a change. My way was time consuming, and clunky, not to mention behind the times. Even though I resisted, the world went on without me. Eventually, I made the shift, but I still have a file full of handwritten yellow pages.
Now, I cannot imagine hand-writing anything. While my computer has been in the shop, I have felt lost. Without my hands to type, I cannot express my thoughts. Someone suggested that I could use paper and pencil and I laughed. Once again, I found my resistance, this time on going back to what I once loved. It seems I have found the “new” way much better than the old one, so much so, now I cannot think clearly without typing. My comfort zone has expanded.
I am not sure what it is about humans that makes us so resistant to change. I think it is that our comfort zones are, well, comfortable, and we don’t like discomfort much. We go to great lengths to maintain or even increase our comfort. We want the path of least resistance. The easy way. The status quo. For ourselves and for those we love. Think of all the ways you want your kids to have what you never did. We don’t want them to suffer and so we pursue comfort zones for them as an extension of our own.
Even when I have found myself on the side of pushing for change, like education reform for example, I find myself resistant to do the work required. Even when I was sitting in the midst of a broken system, seeing how it affected my students in adverse ways, trying to push for things to be done differently, knowing that sweeping changes needed to be made, and being the one to insist they be made, I still hesitated.
Because of that resistance, things are still broken. Teachers are still burned out. Students still do not get all that they need. Education reform feels too big. Healthcare reform is the same. Any big system change feels impossible, not because there are no solutions, but because of resistance to change. Discomfort equals pain and I have to be in significant discomfort before I will step into change. In fact, I often say God knows he has to back me into a corner to force change, because I will not do it on my own. He knows me well.
The word resistance comes from the latin root “sistere” which means to cause to stand. So to REsist something means to stand against it; the refusal to accept or comply; the attempt to prevent by action or argument.
I attempt to prevent change by my actions. I stand against learning new things. I often refuse to accept new ideas because they will require effort and work on my part. This computer issue has reinforced this to me, but it has also exposed that part of myself that resists change in other ways because of the discomfort they bring.
As I continue to dismantle my foundations, brought on by the George Floyd murder, I find this resistance to change is a stumbling block for me. I realize my avoidance of discomfort has injured others. My need for a comfort zone has denied one to people of color. It’s the truth. I have turned a blind eye. I have looked away. I have claimed that this isn’t my problem, it’s in the past, and that it doesn’t affect me. That very idea, that I think it doesn’t affect me, shows just how resistant I am to change. If it was my kids being killed you better believe I would be demanding change. But it’s not my kids, so I turn my face away. With my words I say how sad it is, but only with my words.
The resistance in me comes from the fear that standing up will affect my comfort zone. I will have to act. It will be uncomfortable. It will challenge the status quo I am so fond of. I will lose friends. People will think differently of me, judge me even. I am in unfamiliar territory when I embrace change instead of resisting it. It goes against my stay-in-your-comfort-zone nature. It creates a cognitive dissonance in me which demands I look closely. That I not turn my head away any longer. That I open my eyes and see how my resistance hurts my Friends of Color.
When I do that, I weep with those who weep. I grieve the pain I have caused by saying and doing nothing. I sit with the brokenness God has exposed in me and I feel his conviction deeply. I sit in silence while I unlearn so much of what I thought to be true. I wait with my mouth closed so my ears can be opened. I sit among the rubble of my foundations and begin the reframing; the rebuilding. It is not easy. It is uncomfortable. It is work. It will take time.
If I am to love my neighbor as myself, if I am to weep with those who weep, if I am to lay down my life for my friends, if I am to speak and build up the body, or any other commands of scripture, I have to admit my words and my actions do not match. I have to look in the mirror…really look. I have to stop resisting change and learn to embrace it.
All of this thought about resistance was brought on by the loss of my computer. Seems a small thing really, almost silly. But it has upended me and thrown me into an uncomfortable place. I mumble under my breath. I am frustrated. I feel out of sorts. The change required to get this machine functional again is painful. I throw things…and fits. I just want things to be normal. Yet, that is not going to happen and I know it. I have to change. Embrace instead of resist. A month of no expression has led me here, to this chair, to this morning, to this message, to this resistant heart and to this new thing that will one day be a part of my foundation…if I can just let go of my resistance.