Can You Spare Me Some Change?

We’ve all been there. Having gotten out of our car at the mall or at our favorite discount store, and minding our own business as we walk toward the store, out of the corner of our eye we see him approaching. His clothes, his disheveled appearance, the glazed look in his eyes lead us to the only realistic conclusion…we’re about to be hit up for some money. We look for an escape, but experience says we have only two real options—get our rejection speech ready or get ready to hand him some money. And then comes the ask—“Mister, can you spare me some change?”

“Can you spare me some change?” Whereas those words irritate us coming from a beggar in a parking lot, in a much different context those words actually may serve as our emotional cry for help. To help you understand what I mean, let me ask you a question. How do you and others typically respond to change—you know, that other kind of change—when someone or some force in your life causes or requires some routine, tradition, habit, or part of your life to become different?

Typically we don’t like it. In fact, our typical response to change is such that we’ve created a saying to express our distaste for it: “Nobody likes change except babies with dirty diapers.” My push back on that popular ditty is this: Have you ever wrestled a baby with a dirty diaper who didn’t want to be changed? I have, and I have a name for it—a two-parent diaper. For most of us our nonverbal response to change is, “Mister, please spare me some change.”

Why are we so resistant to change—even positive change that we know will benefit us? Boil it down to its lowest common denominator and the answer is this:

We dislike and resist change because it breeds inconvenience and disruption to our lives.

Change hacks into our systems and processes and breeds inconvenience and disruption to our routines, habits, and traditions. Rather than being able to function in life on autopilot based on those routines, habits, and traditions; change causes us to disengage the autopilot and put effort and energy into life in a way we didn’t have to do before. And therein lies the real dig with change. We like to live life on autopilot.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” You really don’t have to be an ancient Greek philosopher to know that. And we can add, “The second thing that is constant is resistance to change.” That being said, the critical question then becomes How can we handle change such that it serves as our friend and not our enemy? Maybe pondering these two observations about change will help the next time a change agent comes knocking on your door:

  1. A quote hanging on the wall of a friend’s office: “If nothing changes, nothing changes.”
  2. A comment by German physicist Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799): “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.”

And should you need some reassurance in your life that there is something in life that does not change, ever at all, consider these words of encouragement:

  •  “…the God of Israel will not lie or change His mind, for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” (1 Samuel 15:29 NASB)
  • “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NASB)

Jerry Long

Jerry Long is a retired minister [38 years] living in metro Greenville, SC. He and his wife Lynne have two daughters and three grandchildren. He holds degrees from Clemson University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He may be reached at gotigers73@att.net.