It's not exactly cheese, but it has been moved. In the interest of full disclosure, I haven't actually read all of the book Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson but it has been hanging around my book case for years...
Actually, I suppose you could stick whatever name you choose on it; cheese, routine, comfort, familiarity, tradition. You could even the insert the word "normal;" it would work here also.
While the name does have importance, it is not really the weight of this discussion. I want to focus on the reaction...
On our response, to change, to the disruption of routine... We live in a world that often seems to be swirling with change. Change -- that one powerful word has so much potential. It's one simple word that can illicit hope, fear, anxiety, and joy. It can make you laugh, and it can make you cry.
Having an almost 16 year old son with who is severely impacted by autism, we have been given a whole new perspective on the importance of routine, and the effects of change. While he has worked very hard and made great progress in many areas over the years, he is still very much impacted by his diagnosis. More importantly though, we continue to be very much impacted by his existence.Through him, God has taught our family so much.
So, now knowing that Cooper is autistic, it should not surprise you when I say that he does not like change. Cooper doesn't just like routine and familiarity, he needs it. Cooper's response to change is quite often dramatic, especially if the change is sudden and he has not been prepared.
Cooper has a routine. He comes home from school, takes of his backpack and shoes, puts his stuff away, and asks for chicken. He then goes to his room to unwind on the computer and wait for his chicken. This day, the routine failed, it changed. He was not warned, he was not prepared. It happens. That's life.
When the school bus stopped in front of our house a few days ago (thirty minutes late) to drop Cooper off from Summer School, I opened the front door and froze. There was Cooper, galloping full-steam-ahead, straight for the front door. Arms raised high above his head and hands flailing dramatically in the air, his face was contorted, and I do not possess the vocabulary to describe the sounds he was making. He made it through the door, threw off his backpack yelled for chicken, and ran to his room. It was there he discovered the mouse to his computer wasn't working. He screamed with every fiber of his being for chicken. I will spare you the rest of the details, but suffice to say his reaction worsened before it improved.
I don't always think his reaction is so unusual. We all have times, sometimes frequently, when we react dramatically to change. We have seen that with recent current events in our society.
Food is Cooper's comfort. He eats for a variety of reasons, not just for hunger. That's not so unusual either. When he is stressed, it is calming and comforting and safe and predictable. He will demand, and on occasion even fight for, that comfort and stability.
When change comes, and it always does, we react. If the change brings anxiety and fear, we reach, and search for the familiar. We yell for stability and fight for safety in what we know.
My family has been through many changes the last few years. We have five children ranging in age from 9 to 22. They are experts at starting new schools. We moved from our lifelong home in Tennessee to Ohio. Our oldest daughter stayed behind, and this past year was married. We were only in Ohio for a year before we were moved again. We have now lived in the state of Arkansas for two years.
I have to say that before our family experienced these changes I don't know that I was so familiar with the verse at the beginning of this post, at least not in the same way I am now. I like to think that we have, as a family and individually, held tight to this verse and the promises of Jesus as change came and our world shifted.
It's not always easy to do, remembering that God is with us even in change and disruption.
As I reflected on Cooper's intense reaction to change, on his screaming with everything in him for chicken, for comfort, I realized something. I realized that's what we do, what we should do, what we try to do. So many times we have come through the door of change and with everything in us screamed for comfort, for stability...for Jesus. What we reached for, what we have held on to, was the comfort of his promise found in the words of that verse...we are not alone. My prayer is that we all know that the ultimate comfort and true stability in a world full of change is found in Jesus.
May we all come through the door screaming, with the urgency of my son needing chicken, for Jesus and for his promises and words of comfort.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are grateful for your promises, your patience and your provision. When we find ourselves in a world that is almost constantly changing around us and we cry out for comfort, for stability, may you quiet our hearts and minds so that we can focus on you and the words of your promises. Promises you have laid as a firm foundation will never change.