Progress through Change

When you are a widow, everything in your life changes. Nothing is the same anymore and nothing that you had planned for your future will ever be the same. Sometimes we change out of choice and sometimes we are compelled to change. When compelling changes come, you have a chance to look inward and examine who you are and who you want to become. It felt like 2/3 of me ceased to exist when Scott died- the 1/3 that was him and the 1/3 that was us. I was left with the 1/3 that was just me, and trying to remember who she was alone was very difficult. There were things about me that I wanted to change. I had wanted to change those things before Scott died, but I felt stuck in a rut. Well, having your husband dies definitely gets you unstuck from your rut, but if you are not careful it is easy to get stuck in a new rut. I didn’t want to do that. I was tired of begin stuck. I wanted to start moving forward so I could stay caught up to my husband who I felt was now moving forward at an accelerated pace. I desired to be more than who I was and to be more of who the Savior thought I was capable of being.

We are not beings who delight in change, especially hard, difficult change. Sometimes like a root bound plant, a new pot is not enough change to allow us to flourish and begin to grow. We need some vigorous root clipping. Root clipping hurts, but it makes the corrections and removes the bad habits that hinder our growth.

“How often in life do we set our own roots into the soil of life and become root bound? We may treat ourselves too gently and defy anyone to disturb the soil or trim back our root system. Under these conditions we too must struggle to make progress. Oh, change is hard! Change can be rough.” (See below for reference)

Our own stubbornness can make that change harder and take longer. How much easier the path is when we willing submit to the process of changing. We are so reluctant to change. We set our heels in and stubbornly hang on to those bits of our will that keep us from progressing.

” There is a constant that allows us to use change for our own good, and that constant is the revealed eternal truths of our Heavenly Father.”

The gospel helps us to know the direction we need to go when we change. It helps us change for the better.

“We need not feel that we must forever be what we presently are. There is a tendency to think of change as the enemy. Many of us are suspect of change and will often fight and resist it before we have even discovered what the actual effects will be. When change is thought through carefully, it can produce the most rewarding and profound experiences in life. The changes we make must fit the Lord’s purposes and patterns.”

I have found this to be particularly true. I have often feared change and the unknown. I like to know what is ahead and have a good plan for getting through it. Although I did not plan on this change in my life, as I have turned to God for help and direction, I have had some of those rewarding and profound experiences. I am leading a life more focused on the Savior and on becoming like Him. It is full of service and learning how to love and lift others. This has been far more rewarding than I ever thought possible. 


Asking the following questions in circumstances like this can allow us to change in the right way.

“Where do I need development? What do I want out of life? Where do I want to go? How can I get there?” Weighing alternatives very carefully is a much needed prerequisite as one plans changes. In God’s plan we are usually free to choose the changes we make in our lives and we are always free to choose how we will respond to the changes that come. We need not surrender our freedoms. But just as a compass is valuable to guide us out of the dense forest, so the gospel points the way as we walk the paths of life.”

It is important to remember that we choose how to react in any given situation. We need to Act instead of allowing ourselves to be acted upon. It’s important not to fall into the pattern of inaction. Satan is always trying to cripple us by telling us that we don’t have to do anything or that we are not capable of doing anything. No matter our circumstances, we always have a choice. Even if that choice is simplly to choose our attitude.

C. S. Lewis indicated there is often pain in change when he wrote of God’s expectations for His children:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace”

God has much grander plans for us than we do for ourselves. He sees in us things that we don’t even know are there. If we are patient and compliant with His remodeling efforts we will find the finish product far superior to anything we could have created ourselves.

“Yes, there is pain in change, but there is also great satisfaction in recognizing that progress is being achieved”

Finding joy in the journey is always the most difficult part, but again, I have learned that finding joy is a choice.

“William James once said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that [we] can change [our] circumstances by changing [our] attitudes of mind.”


Four important steps in making change

  1. We must understand the need for change. The recognition of the need to change has to be a greater force than the luxury of staying the same.
  2. We need to know how, what, where, and why to change. The gospel of Jesus Christ can help us set short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals by teaching us who we are, where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. With this knowledge, a person will have greater strength to improve.
  3. A system for change must be established. It was Emerson who said, A man who sits “on the cushion of advantages, goes to sleep. When he is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has been put on his wits, … [learns] moderation and real skill”
    Our change must be planned and orderly. After our system for change is established, it must be followed through to completion, even though it may disturb our very root system.
  4. We must be totally committed to our plan for change. A Chinese proverb says, “Great souls have wills; feeble souls have only wishes.” Unless we have the will to improve, all the other steps to change will be wasted. This last step separates the winners from the losers.”

It is unfortunate that sometimes we have to be pushed to our knees to get there, but I have learned that sometimes there is just no other way to get there.

“The change from this life to a life with Him who is our Eternal Father is the ultimate goal to which meaningful change can bring us.”

That is my goal, where I want to be, back with Him and with my sweetheart, where we can look back at all of the change and say it was not for naught.

Questions to Ponder:

1. How can you use this trial as an opportunity to change for the better?

2. Choose something you want to change and follow the 4 step process above.



  1. wrote on November 12th, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    I love how you expressed the 1/3 v. 2/3 change. I’ve always heard of spouses as our “other halves” or (ideally) our “better halves,” but I think what you described is more accurate. I was irrevocably altered by my husband’s death, but that 1/3 of “just me” has grown in the years since then. (There were times I felt uprooted–like the image above–and exposed to the elements with no hope of replanting.) Thankfully, the Gardener has pruned me in healthier, better ways than I could have imagined.