Many years ago, I was asked to read the book “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson, M.D., as part of an annual company retreat. We were in the midst of transition and it was wearing on many of the staff. There was a lot of fear and anger and our management team felt the book might help the employees work through their uneasiness as we moved into the coming weeks and months.
The book is written as a simple parable, a quick read of less than 100 pages. I had been dealing with my own worries about the changes that were coming. So I went back to my hotel room that evening and read it from cover to cover in less than 60 minutes. The impact was profound, emotional and life-long!
The author summarizes – “Who Moved My Cheese? is the story of four characters living in a “Maze” who face unexpected change when they discover their “Cheese” has disappeared. Sniff and Scurry, who are mice, and Hem and Haw, little people the size of mice, each adapt to change in their “Maze” differently. In fact, one doesn’t adapt at all…”
It’s a simple description of a simply written book. Yet the story is invaluable! I have read this book dozens of times since that initial evening. I pick it up each time I am faced with changes in my life that I am uneasy about or having troubles with. The pages of my original book are dog-eared and worn – having returned to certain sections many times over the years. I was so excited about the book that I even bought a second copy – just in case I told someone about it and they wanted to read it.
Why is the book so important to me? Because here is the truth – I don’t always deal well with change! There – I said it! I like to think that I do, but the truth is that I’m quite happy with the status quo when it comes to most situations. The status quo is the easy path, the comfortable path, the path of least resistance. You know what to expect and even when to expect it. No surprises and no discomfort.
Yet the real truth is that staying the same can sometimes end up being much harder than changing. And it always has consequences. At a job, it can mean not getting on board with a new direction of the company – and we all know what happens then! With your friends, it may mean missing out on new experiences and adventures. In your church, it may mean missing out on opportunities to reach a new generation of followers. In your personal life, it may leave you trapped in a bad situation or unable to move on from a loss.
Now, I’m not talking about making changes in your life that lead you down a wrong path – like doing something you know to be against what you believe or against your morals. I’m talking about changes that you know or believe will lead to improvements in your life, but you are just too darn scared to take that first step!
I have made my way through many changes in my life – where I lived, where I worked, what I did, what I believed. Some changes were self-initiated and some were forced on me. Some I simply fell into. But in most every case the changes came with a fair amount of fear and anxiety. Was I making the right decision? What if things didn’t work out in my new situation? What if I didn’t fit in or wasn’t as successful as I had been before? I was comfortable where I was – what if I end up not liking where I’m going? My family is going through some of those changes today. How will life be without my Mom here? How is my Dad doing with all of the changes that are happening to him? Will we be open and accepting of where life is going and what we may have to deal with along the way? If you allow it, fear and worry can get you pretty bogged down!
Isaiah 41:10 (NIV) tells us –
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
So shouldn’t we simply trust in that promise and find peace in our circumstances? I pray that some day I can answer that with a resounding YES! And yet today, I say yes, but in a soft voice with my hands together in prayer. And of course, with my Bible and a copy of “Who Moved My Cheese?” at my side.
I have not yet found the resolve to accept all change boldly and swiftly, but I hope – like Haw – I am learning to be more open to it! To see changes as they are coming and to adapt, as I need to. What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid of change? Something to think about!
For anyone interested, I’ve provided links to a PDF version of this book, that I found through a Google search. I’m not sure if it is truly complete, but appears to have the bulk of the message included. There is also a cute cartoon I found on YouTube based on the story. I hope you enjoy the story and find it helpful. If you are local to me and would like to borrow my book – just let me know. I would be happy to share it!
Video Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91YxXk3fmw8