Emotional HealthHealingRecovery 8 minutes to read

I remember working for a large cellular company years ago that went through some major growth, which required major change. As they rallied the troops for a meeting to discuss the plan for change, they split the room in half with an imaginary line.

One half of the room was assigned to say, “We like change!” The other half would say, “Change is good!” As our leader announced step number one in this process, she would point to one side which would respond, “We like Change!” Then she would point to the other: “Change is Good!” and so on through discussing the plan.

While I’m not sure if this was completely ethical, it was a light-hearted way of trying to help employees embrace change with positivity and enthusiasm. In all honesty, I think most people would say something like, “I fear and dislike change; change is scary and difficult.” 

Why do we fear change? What makes it so difficult? After a quick poll of friends, here are some of the reasons they gave:

  • the fear of failure 
  • the belief that “I can’t” 
  • lies from the enemy
  • the financial cost
  • personal insecurities 
  • the fear of the unknown

Over the last 10 years of leading groups—Betrayal & Beyond, Eight Pillars, and Unraveled—and walking with women through change in their lives, I’ve seen the fear of the unknown journey ahead as a barrier to trusting the process and embracing change. 

So, let’s zoom out and take a birds eye view at five steps that may help us embrace change. 

Note: These are in no particular order and often happen simultaneously or in conjunction with one another.

1. Willingness

In a clinical model of the Stages of Change, willingness would be Stage 4: action. You are ready and willing to step into the journey. Not wanting negative consequences is a start, but this does not always mean you have a willing heart. 

Desperation and disgust are powerful motivators for change, but they do not lead to lasting results and increasing joy. 

Alisa Keeton, The Wellness Revelation

How do you know if you’re willing? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you willing to be honest with yourself? With others? With God? 
  • Are you willing to face the pain that you most likely have been trying to avoid with numbing or coping behaviors? 
  • Are you willing to try new activities and tools to “kill the beast?” 
  • Are you willing to listen to “experts” who can help you get curious about why the things you think should be working are not working? 
  • Are you willing to be willing to be willing?

This is a good place to start.

2. Self-Awareness

The first few chapters of our group time is spent becoming more self-aware. Identifying unwanted behaviors, how they affect ourselves and others, where they originated, what triggers these behaviors, what lies I believe because of these behaviors and messages, and more. These are all key elements to self-awareness. 

Some behaviors may have started at a very young age, and can often be written off as character defects or “just part of my personality,” when in reality, they can often be safety mechanisms that were needed to survive trauma, and never unlearned because the trauma was never addressed. This is part of being willing to face the pain of your past.

Note: If you have experienced trauma, seek professional help from someone trained and experienced in safely processing trauma.

3. Self-Care

I see self-care in layers and it can sometimes be a progressive step. Let me explain. The layers of self-care can be simple activities that bring you joy. This can include a hobby, listening to music, going for a walk, attending a Bible study, meeting a friend for coffee, practicing breathing exercises, and more.

In some cases, self-care begins with healthy basic needs: sleep hygiene, proper hydration, balanced nutrition, decreasing stress, establishing healthy boundaries in toxic relationships, regular hygiene (regularly brushing teeth, showering, changing clothes), limiting time on electronics, and breaking isolation, to name a few. Starting with basic needs may then progress into trying new hobbies and creating those additional healthy rhythms.

Three of the tools that help to develop self-care rhythms are the Three Circles, the Commitment to Change, and the FASTER Scale. If you’ve had experience in a Pure Desire group, you’re likely familiar with these tools.

On the Three Circles, the middle circle guardrails are good indicators of areas you may need to create better boundaries, and the outer circle will be full of healthy activities and self-care to keep your body, mind, and spirit in a posture of willingness to change.

The Commitment to Change (CTC) is a great tool to help you begin to address changing behaviors in your life. Take one at a time, so as to not overwhelm yourself, or set yourself up for failure. The CTC should be specific. Instead of, “I want to get more sleep” your CTC could be, “I will commit to going to bed, lights out, with no phone, by 10:00 pm, and I will have my alarm set for 6:00 am.” Your CTC is shared with your group, and they will help to keep you accountable.

When I begin to let go of my outer circle behaviors, I feel it! I begin “forgetting priorities,” which is the first step away from restoration, and then it’s a slippery slope down the FASTER Scale. Doing my FASTER Scale check-in is a good indicator that if I am anywhere other than in restoration, it’s time to revisit my Three Circles and adjust my priorities.

4. Community

It has been said, “We heal in community.” Shame and guilt over our unwanted behaviors often keep us isolated. In isolation we can get stuck with negative self-talk and the perpetual cycle of addiction. Isolation tends to have a good buddy: loneliness. Personally, I have experienced a tough season of isolation and loneliness, where I craved and feared community (intimacy) at the same time. I desperately wanted to reach out to friends, but felt so much fear of rejection and abandonment, and I also wanted to stay safe in my cocoon.

Community can also help with accountability. A safe community allows you a place to be yourself; it opens the door to vulnerability and transparency; it checks in on you when you disappear (fall back into isolation); it laughs with you through the tears; celebrates the victories, BIG AND small; and it forgives (1 Corinthians 13:4-11 is going through my head). A safe community is where you experience love. For some, it may be the first time you experience love in a healthy, productive way. This is a great segue to the fifth step.

5. Jesus

Saving the best for last. I know we all have our own experiences with faith, our own wounds, and our own rhythms. We may be in different seasons and have different faith expressions. So, I’m going to share from my relationship with Jesus. You can filter and receive it as you are led.

In the above four steps, for me, Jesus is a part of each step. When I don’t feel willing, when I want to be lazy or I’m in a season of fatigue for whatever reason, how I become willing to be willing is by digging into my motivation and inspiration to please my King. Not to earn something from Him, not to be “good enough,” but because He is my Supreme Treasure. He is Worthy. Philippians 1:27a says, 

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Philippians 1:27a (ESV)

I know, in and of myself, this won’t be attained this side of Glory, but this is how I want to walk. Simply because He is worthy.

For years, I have struggled with self-care over my physical body. This is my current area of attention. After spending years disconnected from my body, now I’m connecting to God’s desire for my physical body. I have to be self-aware and practice self-care daily. I still struggle with 50 years of unhealthy mindsets. I take on the Mind of Christ, so I can see myself as He sees me. I can’t take on the Mind of Christ if I don’t pursue a relationship with Him. As I have shed layers of dysfunction over the last 10 years of this healing journey, I have found the space to be still and KNOW that HE is God (Psalm 46:10)! I have loved the practice of being still and being quiet before the Lord, usually starting with some deep breathing to connect my mind, spirit, and body, and then, just listening.

Do I hear an audible voice? Not really, but as you practice coming into His presence, you will begin to discern how He speaks to you. It’s beautiful. Getting to know God, through His Word, through His promises, and through time alone with Him has done more for me on this journey than I can ever express. Knowing Him helps me know how He sees me, helps me understand His faithfulness, and helps me experience how He loves me. Oh, how He loves.

While this is not an exhaustive list, these are five steps to get you started. The journey of healing is much like our journey of sanctification: it is ongoing and full of ups and downs. Different seasons of life can amplify an area we thought we had done significant work in, that now, even years later, we might have a different or deeper perspective that causes us to revisit. When we lean into God in the midst of these challenges, we grow in our understanding of Him, His Word, and our identity in Christ. 

Getting curious about how we’re processing our world, being open to change, and seeing the ups and downs as opportunities for change, we can embrace the journey and find joy. This has been my focus for 2024. My word for the year is “Praise.” As this was impressed on me to dig into this year, it was with a tone of being able to praise in the valleys as much as I praise on the mountaintop! 

If God has taught me anything through my recent years of unexpected illnesses, aging parents, and an uncertain world, it could be summed up through what Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13: My paraphrase—I have learned when things are going well, or when I have great needs, to be content in Jesus in all circumstances. He is truly all I need. I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.

The views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not reflect an official position of Pure Desire Ministries, except where expressly stated.

Kelly Johnston

Kelly is the Women's Online Groups Coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s in psychology and counseling, with a minor in addiction recovery and biblical studies. She has been leading groups since 2015 and served as a Regional Group Advisor for more than three years. Kelly is passionate about encouraging and supporting women on their healing journey. She loves witnessing the process: when women have a head knowledge of the passionate love of God and it penetrates their heart, it becomes the foundation of new thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors. This is tangibly where she sees God’s love in motion.

1 Comment

  1. Charles Martin

    Well done Kelly!!!! Spoken with confidence and eloquence!!!!!

    charly martin

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