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A Change is Gonna Come

Benjamin Franklin was wrong.

Commenting on his hopes for the durability of the newly drafted U.S. Constitution, Franklin famously said,

…in this world, nothing is certain, but death and taxes.

But Franklin, an undisputed genius, left at least one thing out – change.

Change is inevitable. From the cosmetic to the life-altering, micro to macro, we experience change daily. And if we’re honest, most of us don’t like it very much. Entrepreneur and popular podcaster, Tim Ferriss has been quoted as saying,

People would rather be unhappy than uncertain.

Underscoring this notion is a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. Researchers used five different tests for five different, diverse groups of students. In the first test, students were asked to evaluate requirements for graduation along with a possible change to those requirements.

In the second test, students considered the practice of acupuncture. Researchers used 4 different descriptions of acupuncture with the primary difference being the length of time the procedure had been in use. Some students received the descriptions with more recent origin stories and others received the descriptions with earlier origin dates.

The third test involved a painting for which students were asked to rate its aesthetic qualities. Some students were told the artwork was created in 1905, while others were advised the artist painted it in 2005.

In study 4, students were given a photograph and description of a tree and asked to rate its aesthetic qualities. Some descriptions were manipulated to say the tree was older than the same tree in other students’ descriptions.

Finally, students were approached on campus and asked to participate in a product expansion taste test for a chocolate producer. Students were told one chocolate was first produced and sold first in 1937, while the other chocolate was first produced and sold in 2003.

By now you may have guessed the “punchline.” In every test, the older, more established item was rated significantly better than the more recent item. We are conditioned to place a higher value on those things in life that seem more certain and to fear those which are less tested despite their other merits. Sometimes, we would rather stay in our uncomfortable and difficult situations because it is what we know and change is scary.

At My Cup of Tea, the core of our mission is to help change lives for the better. There are some ways in which we can affect change. We can provide a job with fair wages, so women in Orange Mound can pay their bills. We can offer a good meal daily and provide emergency funds for a sister with an unexpected expense. We can plant and cultivate gardens, so the ladies have fresh produce and stave off food insecurity. We can educate about finances, tea, and, of course, Scripture. These are the changes in their lives where we can exercise at least some control. But even these “good” changes can be unnerving when they are new, different from what you know, and don’t guarantee success.

Then there are the changes weighing us down lately - the ones we cannot control. Within the last month, three of the ladies have lost loved ones. One lost a father on the heels of losing her mother to COVID two years ago. Another said goodbye to her sister suffering from multiple illnesses, and she had to make the gut-wrenching decision to remove her from life support. The third lost her daughter, a wife and mother of three, in what most of us would consider an unimaginable way. She was murdered by a stray bullet.

Of course, there is nothing we can do to change these outcomes. All we can do is what we have so many times in the past. We can pray with and for them. We can exercise patience and understanding. We can assist with funeral expenses, which can break the back of one already struggling to make the ends meet.

Most importantly, we can remind each other that amid the tumult that is change, we don’t have to be afraid because of the one thing that will never change – God.

“Jesus is the same, yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8