Are You A Pipe Cleaner or a Popsicle Stick?: Coping When Change Comes Knocking On Your Door
Are you a pipe cleaner or a popsicle stick? It may sound like a funny question, but recently I came across a little exercise aimed at helping children cope with change. Did you know that with the help of a popsicle stick and a pipe cleaner we can teach kids about the value of flexibility? We can talk with them about how sometimes people just want things to go their way, and if they don’t get their way they explode! We could say something like: ‘Sometimes we are rigid, like a popsicle stick. When rigid people don’t get what they want or what they expect, they just keep trying to make things go their way, and then BOOM, they explode!’ Just like a popsicle stick, we can snap when pressure is applied.
On the other hand there are pipe cleaners. These people can bend and change when they need to in a situation, like adjusting when plans are changed, or doing something a different way. ‘That’s being flexible like a pipe cleaner – it can bend when it needs to and then it can straighten back out again like it was’. A person that can do that is flexible.
Two of my children are pipe cleaners and one of them is definitely a popsicle stick! But the pipe cleaner and popsicle stick exercise can also be helpful for adults. After all, how many of us have little tantrums when things don’t go our way? I’m a person that doesn’t mind change so long as it is positive change, and I’d like to think that I am a pipe cleaner. However, there are many situations in life where I am probably a popsicle stick. What about you? How do you find change?
We are embarking on a move to the other side of the globe early next year. There will be many, many changes ahead. But even it we aren’t contemplating a drastic change like moving to a new country, we all have changes in our lives. In fact it’s often said that it is CHANGE that is the one constant in our lives. And change can be difficult. It can be demanding and it can require us to stretch and grow. Even our spiritual lives and faith can develop and change over time. How we believed as a child may be different to how we believe in our twenties, thirties, forties or fifties. However, God doesn’t change.
In Malachi 3:6 God says, “For I am the Lord, I change not.” Isn’t that comforting? With all the changes, there is one thing that cannot change — GOD. He is the only One that we can count on. We can always be assured of His great love for us. In fact, nothing can separate us from it.
He also says in His Word,
“So God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence”Hebrews 6:18
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows”. James 1:17
When I think of the subject of change I’m also reminded of the passage about the wise man who built his house on the rock. While not specifically about coping with change, we learn in this passage that even though the wind, the rain and the floods come, we will be steadfast if we make God the foundation of our lives.
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7: 24-27
We don’t need to be uneasy about change. Where the enemy would want to release an assignment of anxiety against us, we can choose to walk in faith rather than fear. Maybe we are in a season of transition. Perhaps we are even at a crossroads. But if we will trust God with all the changes, He can make things work for good. Trusting is difficult, especially when life circumstances don’t really make sense. But let’s be pipe cleaners and embrace the positive changes that may come our way. We can also pray for grace to handle the challenging changes, meeting God in the midst of them.
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11a (NLT)