Staying Healthy Amidst Change

When the only thing that’s consistent is change.

When the hellos all lead to goodbyes.

When the chaos leads us to crave monotony.

HOW do we keep our community healthy?

How do we keep ourselves soft and open to new friends? How do we keep digging in knowing we will have our roots eventually transplanted?

A few years ago, I wrote about the transient community we live in abroad. I was fresh to the field and was processing my own grief in saying goodbye to a dear friend I had made in my first year overseas. I was determined to keep connecting with my community.

I remember distinctly a comment on that post from a more seasoned expat, “We’ll see what you say about all this in a few years…”

And maybe I took that as a challenge. Or maybe I left that comment on a mental sticky note to remember every time I have to say another goodbye.

But it’s been a few years now, and I am still fighting for community in my real life. Fighting to embrace change. Fighting to stay tender to the people coming in and going out of my front door.

It truly is a fight. I don’t use that word lightly. Because what our hearts want to do is say, Enough with the sting! Enough of the change! Enough, already!

But it’s in our DNA now, friends.

As expats, it is absolutely our DNA that change is inevitable…and we have adapted our behavior along with it.

No matter how hard we try, no matter how much we think the consistency of a predictable lifestyle will bring us peace and ultimate joy, I wonder.

The sheer unpredictability of a life overseas rewrites the story of our DNA in such a way that we come to expect the unexpected. We grow comfortable with the change. And I dare say we crave the surprises.

I write things like this on days that I’m content with my life abroad so that on the days when I’m hugging friends at the airport, saying goodbye to teammates, or mourning the loss of some aspect of daily rhythm, I’m cool.

Because being a friend of change is the best way to embrace a life overseas.

I’ve been a contributor for Velvet Ashes for almost 4 years now. And perhaps this isn’t the most appropriate place to share this. But I want to express my love for this online community and the way we pour into each other through our computer screens.

I’m taking a break from blogging for the rest of the year while I focus on other life “stuff,” and as ridiculous as it sounds, I feel like I’m mourning the death of popping into your email inbox here and there.

So want to leave you with a *dying* wish. Gah, morbid.


Take care of you. And don’t feel ashamed to speak up for what you need and what you want.

If we are not taking care of ourselves, our families cannot be healthy and our communities cannot be healthy. Find freedom in that.

In the same breath, PUSH HARDER.

There are challenges in your lives and there are ways to escape them, or there are ways to tackle them. I pray you choose to tackle them, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the example of Jesus Christ, and the Word of God our Father by your side.

Push harder, and stay healthy. Push harder. Stay healthy. Keep that cycle going as you maneuver all the highs and lows of this life we live.

You are my people, and I’m honored to do life with you.

In his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero mentions some common defense maneuvers people use to avoid hurt. I’m curious, when you see change on the horizon, do you:

Lean towards denial that change is coming?

Minimize the hurt, pretending it’s not as painful as it really is?

Blame others for causing the change?

Blame yourself for the change that’s happening?

Distract yourself to avoid mourning the loss of what’s changing?

Intellectualize your way through the process, focusing on “right feelings”?


Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels



  1. Ginny March 13, 2018

    Girl you got me a little teary with this one! You hit all the spots. <3 Thank you for sharing, serving, encouraging and pushing!

    1. Lauren Pinkston March 15, 2018

      Thank you, Ginny. From the moment you stepped into my house years ago, I had a feeling you’d be a great friend. And that has turned out to be the exact truth. <3

  2. Kiera March 13, 2018

    You are right, Lauren – it is a fight! We have to keep fighting to keep our souls fertile (Thank you, Amy Young and Looming Transitions for that analogy). I was just working on the “homework” for the Bible study I am in on the sermon on the mount and we are on the last section where it mentions the narrow and wide gates and easy/hard roads. The easier path, the path of less pain is to stop caring about people who are very likely to leave you. But as Brene Brown points out – if you dull the pain, you dull the joy as well. We lose out on amazing relationships if we choose to safeguard our hearts and keep people at arm’s length.

    And to answer your questions – when I see change (that is perceived as loss) coming, I am probably most likely to try and minimize it. I have been very aware of this in the process of re-entry, reminding myself to be honest with myself. If it’s hard, let’s say it’s hard. If it’s uncomfortable or painful or lonely or whatever, let’s say so. Lean into the tough experience so as to be able to come out the other side whole.

    1. Lauren Pinkston March 15, 2018

      Lots of good stuff here, Keira. Thank you for sharing! And for quoting brilliant authors like Amy and Brene. 🙂

      It sounds like you’ve got a great grip on becoming comfortable with voicing discomforts – that’s a big win! Especially in the world of faith where we overspiritualize difficult situations or minimize loss, like you’ve shared here. Keep speaking this truth!

  3. Michele March 14, 2018

    “But it’s in our DNA now friends.” That sentence caught my heart and drew tears to my eyes out of nowhere. It’s true, and your words are so good. When I discovered Velvet Ashes almost three years ago, I had been minimizing and intellectualizing my way through the last few years of changes and knew something was not right. This community has been so helpful to me in processing what I was doing and remembering to just feel it, to embrace change with both the pain and the joy again. Thanks for your part! We’ll miss your posts, but you’re also setting us a great example in saying no to one thing so you can focus on another. Blessings on that other and we’ll look forward to gleaning from the fruit of this time off next year! 🙂

    1. Lauren Pinkston March 15, 2018

      Thank you so much, Michele. Your encouragement is deeply felt. As is the emotion behind a new DNA…sometimes I’m also caught by surprise at how emotional I feel about this “new” me that has emerged from my experiences. It’s music to my ears to see how you’ve processed pain and ups and downs. I know your community is reaping the blessing from it. Thank you for sharing your words!

  4. Kimberli Tundevold March 14, 2018

    This was really fitting for me today. I’ve been fighting with wanting to avoid these feelings that are seemingly unavoidable. Your words helped me to remember that we all deal with change in different ways. I want to have more open eyes as I watch our community transition, and there is a LOT of transition here this year. Thank you for putting the prayer on my lips for health and fighting to enjoy this amazing community to it’s fullest, even to the end of the semester.
    Blessings as you take a break. I have really enjoyed your posts but I also think it is wise to rest.

    1. Lauren Pinkston March 15, 2018


      Thank you for the richness of what you added. I just want to stand up and clap. Here I am, standing and clapping. I’ll keep that prayer close to my lips as well! <3

  5. Jil Christiansen March 14, 2018

    I’ve scoured this site for a “like” button and can’t find it.
    But I do, I like this post.
    I remember you writing that post a few years back. I agreed with it then, I agree with it now.
    I went through the hard place too, of saying goodbye to one of my closest friends at the close of my first year and deeply mourning the loss of that friendship, all while desperately trying not to mention the name in front of the newbies, lest they felt as isolated as I did when I first arrived and the more seasoned workers kept mentioning the person who had just left and how much they missed her.
    One of the gifts I was inadvertently given was that my very first m trip was when I spent two months in Amsterdam. I lived in a community yet went over by myself. I didn’t have the ST advantage of a group of close friends who all came and left at the same time. And two months isn’t long, but it is time enough to get lonely. At the close of my trip, a very direct Romanian woman said to me, “We weren’t going to be friends with you because you’re only here for two months, but we decided to become friends with you anyway, and I’m glad we did.” Um, thank you?
    I’ve never forgotten the hurt of being so isolated amidst other cross-cultural workers or the loneliness that piled up even in the midst of fresh excitement. Those memories have consistently left me fighting for friendships, whether it was the person who arrived 9 months before I headed home or the newbie in town who hasn’t had time to form herself solid friendships.
    Community is worth fighting for.

    1. Lauren Pinkston March 15, 2018


      Thank you for sharing your story! Your narrative from Amsterdam is a perfect expression of what we’re talking about here. I’m so happy that your experience motivated you to react oppositely towards people coming through on a shorter-term basis. What a gift you are to them, I know! Thanks for the affirmation and encouragement. <3

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  7. Jennifer March 19, 2018

    This year is full of some of the biggest changes for me. Thanks for the reminder to take care of me. I have been so busy trying to get drivers license, moving, buying a car, insurance…..figure out my role in life and ministry with a whole lot of new changes coming (getting married in 5 weeks), that taking some time to slow down and take care of my personal needs was a needed reminder.

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