Small Change: Four Ways to Ease Transition

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. Zech 4:10

What do you do with the small change you accumulate? When my kids were small, I used to throw mine in a coffee can and every few months roll it and have enough to pay for a babysitter and a night out.

But there’s been a big change in small change. My current jar is high-tech, actually keeping track of the amount I’ve fed it. In the last year and a half I’ve managed to accrue the whopping sum of $14.83. Coins just don’t get used much any more. In high school we used to keep dimes in our penny loafers for emergencies— a phone call home or THAT machine in the girls room. Just twenty cents could cover 90% of your teenage crises. I still keep some quarters in my wallet out of habit, thinking I might need to make a call. But where would I even find a pay phone?

It may not be long before coins are obsolete and the expressions I’m exploring here will sound like Shakespeare to a new generation. But before that happens, let’s look at how some of our cliches about coins can help us remember that strategic small changes add up to long-term victory in the face of constant change.

1.“A penny for your thoughts”—Change your Focus

These words can be used as a gentle way to reach out to another person who seems troubled. Initiating such a conversation shows them you’ve noticed they are quieter than usual or lacking joy.When you indicate your willingness to listen as they share their thoughts and feelings with you, you are changing your focus from your own struggles to theirs. In doing so you are accepting God’s invitation to share the comfort you’ve received as well as to pray for them.Not only are you building a meaningful friendship, but you’re strengthening your relationship with God as you experience the way he’ll use you to help and encourage another.

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Phil. 2:4

2.“If I had a nickel for every time…”—Change your Habits.

This expression refers to those events in life that occur with predictable frequency and regularity, as in , “If I had a nickel for every time my mother asked me if I remembered to bring a sweater…”

Some of our words, activities, or attitudes are so routine we barely notice them. We can choose to view a difficult time of transition as a prime opportunity to hit the reset button. When business-as-usual comes to a halt, we suddenly have both opportunity and motive to examine our unproductive habits. The stress we experience as a result of unwanted change often brings these tendencies swarming to the surface where we can see them clearly.

Start scrutinizing your routines and habits. What are you doing automatically that you can change deliberately? I’ve unfortunately taken to grabbing for my smart-phone or a sugary snack when I want a mental break. I am thereby distracted from focusing on two of my important goals: to maintain productivity and to achieve a healthy weight.

What if I kept a role of nickels on the counter and dropped one in a jar in every time I engaged in that unproductive behavior? It could help me visualize the magnitude of the problem and be proactive in changing the behavior. And it might give me a minute to realize I would be better off reaching for my sneakers and taking a restorative walk around the block instead.

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.” Haggai 1:5

3.“Stop on a dime.” Change your direction

This cliche was often used to describe to a vehicle able to come to a quick and complete stop. As we transition from our old life and way of doing things to something new and unknown, we have to be willing to try new things, to take new and unknown paths. But equally important is our ability to listen to God and to stop on a dime when he tells us to take a different tack , or alerts us to danger on our current path.

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21

4. That and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee” Change your mindset

Get over your incredulity that a cup of coffee actually used to cost 25 cents and focus on the truth that is buried in this anachronism. “That and” refers to something that adds no value. For example, we know that Jesus warns us not to worry because it adds no value to the situation. As we learn to adapt to life’s constant changes it helps to ask the Lord to show us which of our attitudes add no value. Harboring pessimism, focusing on feelings of inadequacy, nursing our wounds, maintaining unforgiveness toward those who have failed us are all examples. We renew our minds by memorizing Scripture—start today with the 4 verses included in this post.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:34