Transitions are a fact of life. In our highly mobile society, it’s not uncommon for people to change jobs, houses, associations, schools, churches, and geographical locations. While the Lord does lead his people into seasons of life change from time to time, I’ve noticed that some people seem to be literally addicted to change, making sweeping, compulsive, and often irrational life-changing decisions over and over again. I call that pressure to change things or to shake things up repeatedly the itch and I’ve realized after many years of spiritual leadership that the itch is actually a form of addiction and life-controlling problem, rather than merely flightiness or flakiness.
Rooted in a failure to develop biblical contentment, the individual with the itch addiction lives with a constant nagging sense that the thing they need the most and the thing they seemingly must have to function is right around the corner. So on a dime, and without thought of consequences or openness to sound counsel, they veer off to scratch the itch. Rationalizing each move, they literally pull themselves and often their families all over the map trying to soothe the itch. Wisdom is proven right by her actions (Matthew 11:19), and too often, the decision is proven to be yet another mistake. Why? The change was itch mandated rather than Holy Spirit directed.
The problem with the itch is that it prevents individuals from ever developing a root system, and since there is no root there can be no real fruit. Just about the time the Lord gets us into position to begin to lay a foundation for great growth, the enemy comes along and inflames the itch. Itch addicts, consequently, postpone their development, compromise their destiny, and squander valuable time and resources with each knee jerk decision.
The itch is complicated by well-meaning but undiscerning individuals who actually praise or encourage this behavior under the guise of wanting to be supportive. We should no more encourage someone with the itch to swerve than we would an alcoholic to get a bottle and get drunk. The veer is the itch addict’s drug of choice and they need gentle instruction, the renewing of the mind, deliverance, and accountability, rather than enablement. When we truly care about the addict, we help them face reality instead of empowering them to remain addicted.
If you are given to the habit of repeatedly veering and swerving from one place to another, don’t look to justify the behavior, garner support from others for the addiction, or attack the messenger (as so many substance addicts do). Acknowledge, confess, and repent over the fundamental lack of contentment in your life, and for letting the itch run your life. Tell the itch it can no longer be the Lord over your life. Learn to stay still and wait on the Lord. Changes will come into all of our lives, but we need the Holy Spirit, not the itch, prompting those changes.