“One thing you definitely can count on in life is that changes will come. Expected or by surprise. Desired or dreaded. Ready or not.” That’s the insight I heard as I spent time recently with a delightful group of ladies who participated in one of Lone Star College’s Adult Education classes. These precious women, all enjoying the “afternoon” of their lives, shared stories about events that altered the course of their lives. I listened with mind and heart as I considered changes taking place in my own life, knowing their wisdom was a gift I would draw on in the days ahead. While we know change is a part of life, we still find ourselves surprised at times when life takes a turn. All too often, we find ourselves focused on establishing a routine. We find security in the structure we create. Once it’s in place, expectations are set. We assume life will continue on course, just as planned. However, the reality of change is all around us. We see it in our families and communities, in the workplace and in nature, and when we look in the mirror. Change is a continual part of life. Sometimes anticipated, other times catching us unprepared. Sometimes subtle, other times significant. It may be as simple as a change in our appearance, or as drastic as the death of a spouse. A new relationship, new job, new home or significant birthday. An empty nest, retirement, divorce, aging parents, or illness. A new responsibility or the close of an opportunity. There are beginnings and then there are endings, followed by times of transition that usher in new beginnings. At each place of change, we find ourselves at a turning point with life moving in a different direction. When we anticipate its arrival, we can begin to prepare. We organize ourselves, our lives and our belongings, and focus attention on bidding farewell to one season of life and preparing to embrace something new. We establish goals and develop a plan to approach the opportunities waiting for us as we move ahead. There are other times, however, when changes come unexpectedly. We are traveling our journey, assuming we know where the next steps will lead when suddenly we find ourselves at a turning point we may or may not have chosen. A life shift. We come face to face with change and realize life will not be quite the same again. Questions abound and emotions whirl in our minds as we wonder how to move through this transition time and where our life journey will take us next. Will our grief consume us? Our fears overwhelm us? Our self-doubt hold us back? Will our excitement energize us and our confidence spur us on? Where is God in the midst of this transition? Ready or not, change has come and we ask ourselves, “What do I do now,” and “Where do I go from here?” As my dear sweet ladies shared their stories, we spoke of the losses and gains that come with life changes. The pain. The grief. The questions and uncertainties. The hope. The joy. They spoke about their need for a time to mourn, a time to heal, a time to prepare for new opportunities, and a time to step out and establish a new “normal.” They shared about the value of support from friends and family, and about the power of God’s presence, guidance and provision in their lives. I left my time with them and reflected on changes happening in my own life. Once again, I was reminded that while we may not know what lies ahead for us when change comes, we do know that God has promised to walk alongside us with His love and grace, His guidance and provision. He said if we trust Him with all our heart and not rely on our own understanding, if we’ll acknowledge Him in all we do, He’d direct our path (see Proverbs 3:5-6 in the Bible). As you encounter your own turning points, I encourage you to draw close to God, trust His promises and then step out with confidence to embrace whatever life holds. And as you do, may you find joy in your journey. Nancy Williams, LPC is a licensed professional counselor with a counseling, coaching and consulting practice in Kingwood. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net. Please note this column is not intended to serve as professional advice.

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