Relationships, You & Your Family

Change, obsession and keeping up

I am not sure when it happened. Neither do I know how it happened. What I do know is its signs. What I am referring to is losing the fight with change.

It began with a feeling and then the realisation that I was having difficulty keeping up with change. Following this realisation was resignation and a slow disengagement, at least in certain aspects of life. For example, after being hounded to adopt a paperless mode of staying in touch with my bank account, I tried several times to set up a e-banking. But after several failed attempts, coupled with much frustration, I gave up.

Change, we are often told, is a constant. In order to progress—nay, survive—in the modern world, we must adapt and change. Swim with the tide of change; or be engulfed.

It seems that there are two slopes on the trajectory of change. We are either on the upward incline, moving up the change curve, or on the downward decline. Emotionally, we may either feel anxious about keeping up or setting the pace of change, or be sad about losing the familiar and fearful about being able to cope.

What should our attitude towards change be? Let me make a few suggestions for consideration.

Firstly, we can embrace change and innovation. This mindset works on the premise that we can continually adapt and grow, and there is no upper limit to growth. Now, the sceptic in me reminds me that with age, my physical body knows it is not so. But what about other aspects of our lives like the cognitive and emotional? Do they “age” at the same rate and manner? There are also those who are so ready to embrace stagnation that they may actually age faster. “Use it or lose it” we are reminded. An earlier-than-useful resignation to the process of aging may lead us to reject trying new ideas and things with the excuse that we are “old already”. So, my suggestion is to adopt an attitude that is open to change and resist the urge to age before our time. When it comes, it comes; we need not rush toward it.

Secondly, quit whining. The “good old days” are gone, so comparing the present with the past is futile. As believers, we should stop comparing and complaining because we have the hope of a much brighter future with incorruptible bodies that will neither age nor tire.

The third suggestion is to trust not so much in the constancy of change or on our ability to keep up with it. Instead, view change through the lens of God as sovereign over all. If God, in His infinite wisdom, deems fit for us to keep up with some changes, so be it. And if some changes pass us by, we need not be anxious because our dependency is on Him. He knows exactly what needs updating, replacing and improving and what does not.

As we prepare for the season of Lent, let us reflect if we should surrender to Him our obsessions or anxiety about keeping up with change.

Benny Bong has been a family and marital therapist for more than 30 years, and is a certified work-life consultant. He was the first recipient of the AWARE Hero Award, received in 2011, and is a member of Kampong Kapor Methodist Church.