Have you ever felt stuck? Like you are struggling through quicksand with every step you take, while everyone else seems to be gliding effortlessly by?

The unfortunate truth is that even when we are miserable in this quicksand, we often choose to stay stuck in it. Not because we like it, but because our fear of change is bigger than our desire to get unstuck. 

This is a common dilemma. Even Jesus’s disciples, who knew his life-changing power better than anyone, got stuck. One day, they found themselves in a boat struggling against a storm that was much too powerful for them. Exhausted, battered, and maybe a little hopeless, they suddenly saw Jesus walking toward them on the very water that was beating them down.

Jesus had seen how much they were struggling, and he was showing them a way out—but it was different than anything they knew. In this instance, he didn’t calm the waves; he showed them that they could step out and walk on top of them. 

Most of disciples stayed in the boat … except one:

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 
“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Matthew 14:27-31 NLT

Peter was terrified, but he stepped out anyway.

It wasn’t the most impressive journey. He fell, he got afraid, and he needed help. 

But he stepped out. 

If he had cowered in the boat, he would never have known that he could walk on water. 

This is why we need to have the faith to step out of our boats. Our journey of change might not be perfect, but if we choose to stay in the familiar, we will never discover the potential and power God wants to unleash in our lives. 

The “boats” we need to step out of can be any number of things: 

  • Bad habits or unhealthy behaviors that we keep turning to, despite their negative impact on our lives.
  • Relationship conflicts that have festered for months, years, or even decades. 
  • Living without life skills that we may feel embarrassed to admit we need. Some common examples include managing our finances, caring for our physical health, scheduling, and living independently.

Though we usually don’t like being stuck in these things, they are familiar and, in some ways, comfortable. We have probably found ways to adjust to living in these storm-battered boats. 

But is that really the destiny God has for us? To settle for a life of cowering in fear, beaten down by wave after wave?

Or, like Peter, are we meant to walk on water? 

We can find the courage to step out of our comfort zones by knowing that God is there waiting to catch us when we fall, and he will stay with us every step of the journey. 

“Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

Joshua 1:9 MSG

Change doesn’t have to be scary, especially when we focus on taking one step at a time, and we believe God is with us every step of the way. 

The Bible is full of stories of change, and many of these inspiring stories show change as a process. God helped people through their resistance to change by giving them awareness, vision, encouragement, friendship, and faith. 

Behavioral science backs this up. Scientists who study human behavior have found that people who go through a process called the “Stages of Change” (developed by psychologist James Prochaska) are more successful at making lasting changes than those who don’t. Much of the wisdom in this model aligns with the wisdom God gives us in the Scriptures, which is why we think this model has been effective in helping people make lasting changes. 

We believe that the Bible is the only source of wisdom worth building our lives on (Luke 6:46-49), and we understand that even an effective theoretical model that comes from human wisdom has limitations. But a well-studied and successful tool can help us understand and apply what we see in the Scriptures.

In this devotional, we will examine the stages of change from a spiritual and biblical perspective, using some of the ideas from Prochaska’s model of change to help us understand how God helps us step out of our comfort zones and walk forward toward a life greater than we could ever experience on our own. 

Four (Spiritual) Stages of Change

Stage One: Resistance 

And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic) saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’

Acts 26:14 AMP

Resistance is a normal stage in the process of change. The verse above tells us that Saul, a zealous religious leader, resisted Jesus before he became a Christian. He needed a personal interaction with Jesus himself before he decided to change. 

And he did change. Saul went on to become the apostle Paul, one of the most influential Christian leaders in the early church:

And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?” Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.

Acts 9:20-22 NLT

Even though Saul had resisted Jesus’s plan over and over again, Jesus didn’t lose faith in him. He understood that Saul was in a resistant stage, and he responded with exactly what Saul needed: awareness. 

Saul needed Jesus to tell him that he was living a hard life because he was kicking against God’s plan for him.

We shouldn’t be surprised when we see resistance to change in ourselves or other people. Rather than getting frustrated by it, we can expect it and equip ourselves to overcome resistance by increasing our awareness. 

Resistance to change has two faces, and awareness is the solution to both of them:

  1. Resistant and unaware: Sometimes, we resist changing things because we are unaware that they are causing us problems. We may be in denial, or we have become accustomed to these problems that we need someone to point them out. 
  2. Resistant and unconvinced: Sometimes, we are aware of our need to change, but we are weighing the pros and cons of making those changes. The “cons” are winning, and we don’t yet see that the benefits of change outweigh the comfort of staying the same. 

I tend to get resistant to change because I am unaware that I need it. About a month ago, I was feeling especially overwhelmed by several transitions and changes in my life. I was talking to a friend about it, and she told me that if I wanted to handle these changes well, I would need to stop resisting vulnerability. I would need to learn to express my needs to my friends. 

I felt very resistant to her input. My first response was, “I am doing that! I texted friends today that I was feeling overwhelmed.” I even pulled out the text to show her my vulnerability. But when she saw it, she said, “If I received this text, I’d think you were maybe a little stressed but pretty on top of everything and don’t need much help.” 

I’m not an emotionally open person, so I think that any expression of feelings is extremely vulnerable. I needed a friend to help me be aware of myself so that I could change. 

Awareness is the key to overcoming resistance, and sometimes God brings it into our lives through our friends. Other times, he works through the pressure of our life circumstances to bring things to the surface and help us grow.

Pressure helps us become aware 

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

James 1:2-4 MSG

God can work through the pressures of life to reveal the areas that we need to grow and help us overcome any resistance we might feel to changing. We can only become mature and well-developed if these areas come to the surface. Rather than getting angry about pressure or trying to escape it, we can embrace it and let it show us the areas we need to grow. 

There are a few common responses to pressure that should help us become aware of things we need to change. These responses are dysfunctional in the sense that they don’t help us grow or become who we are meant to be:


As James 1:4 says above, one of the ways we handle pressure is trying to get out of it prematurely. This means we find ways to escape responsibility rather than growing into it. We avoid and ignore things that feel hard. As a result, we keep ourselves immature. 


Angry people without God pile grievance upon grievance, always blaming others for their troubles.

Job 36:13 MSG 

Anger is a common tool we use to shift the focus off the fact that we are overwhelmed and not spiritually strong enough to handle the pressures of our lives. Rather than humbly asking God for help, we try to find someone to blame. We can handle our anger in a healthy way by seeing it as a sign that we need to grow. 


For we would not, brothers, have you ignorant of our troubles which came to us in Asia. We were pressured beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.

 2 Corinthians 1:8 MEV 

Our emotional state can reveal our response to pressure. In this situation, the apostle Paul felt so much pressure that he thought he was going to die. Through this pressure, he learned that he needed to trust God. While our situation may be different from his, our overpowering emotions during times of pressure can similarly show us our need to grow in our trust in God. 


You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.

James 4:1-2 NLT

When we feel stuck in life, we can start envying other people who have what we want. Jealousy is a clear barometer that there is something we would really like to change about our own life, and getting aware of that will help us move past resistance to actually making those changes. 


The same happens to all who forget God. The hopes of the godless evaporate. [14] Their confidence hangs by a thread. They are leaning on a spider’s web. [15] They cling to their home for security, but it won’t last. They try to hold it tight, but it will not endure.

Job 8:13-15 NLT 

Sometimes, rather than admitting that we feel insecure and discouraged about certain areas of our lives, we cling tightly to something else that is going well. This passage tells us that we can have confidence that hangs by one single thread, and we cling tightly to it. This looks like focusing our energy on an area of our lives that is going well and neglecting an area that needs growth or makes us feel weak. For example, we might throw ourselves into our jobs where we feel successful and avoid our relationships where we feel we are failing.

When something in our lives starts to mean too much to us—it defines us, controls our emotions, and becomes a bigger focus in our lives than anyone else—it can be a sign that there are other areas of our lives that we are avoiding. 

Remember – identifying the unhealthy ways we handle pressure is in no way a negative process. It’s not meant to make us feel bad about ourselves, and it doesn’t mean we are failing. The goal of this stage is awareness. The action of change is not until later. So if we have become more aware of our hearts, we should rejoice. That’s progress. 

Pause and reflect

  • Which unhealthy way of handling pressure do I relate to the most?
  • What might these responses reveal about the areas of my life that need changing?

Stage Two: Awareness

In the second stage of change, we are aware that we need to grow, but we may feel overwhelmed by the changes themselves. 

The Bible tells us a story of a time Peter felt that way. Before Peter was a disciple who walked on water, he was a failing fisherman, unable to catch any fish. Jesus walked up one day and filled Peter’s boat with more fish than he had probably ever seen in one setting. Suddenly faced with an overwhelming awareness of his own shortcomings, Peter asked Jesus to leave him:

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me-I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!”

Luke 5:8-10 NLT

Becoming aware of his need to change made Peter afraid, and we can react to our need to change with fear too:

  • What if I am not good enough?
  • What if I can’t make these changes?
  • What if I try and fail, like I have in the past? 

When we are at this stage of awareness, our biggest temptation will be to quit before we even begin. It can be overwhelming to see all the ways we need to change without seeing how we will do it. This may lead us to have “Someday” syndrome – we stay stuck in the thoughts of “Maybe someday I’ll deal with this, but not now,” or “I’ll work on that tomorrow,” but tomorrow never comes. Because of this, many people stay stuck in the “awareness” stage for months and even years.

What we need at this stage is vision. This is why Jesus responded to Peter by telling him not to be afraid and giving him a vision for who he would become. Jesus didn’t see Peter as “a sinful man”; he saw a leader, a “fisher of men,” a person whose flaws and imperfections could inspire others who also feel flawed and imperfect. 

I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; but I am charging on to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, has in store for me-and nothing will stand in my way because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. [13] Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission.

Philippians 3:12-13 Voice

When we see ourselves the way God sees us, we experience a shift in perspective. Rather than holding onto the past, we can look forward to what’s ahead and grasp the vision God has for us. 

Here are a few visionary mindset shifts we can make if we are feeling stuck and overwhelmed:

Stuck mindsetVision mindset
“What if I fail?”“What if I succeed?” (Ecclesiastes 11:6)
“I don’t know what to do.”“What do I know? How can I use that to move forward?” (Judges 6:12-14)
“I can’t do this.” or “I’m bad at this.”“This is something I want to learn.” (Proverbs 11:2)
“I’ve failed before; what makes me think it will change this time?”“I have another opportunity for growth!” (Romans 5:3-5)
“What do I have to sacrifice if I make this change?”“What do I get to gain if I make this change?” (Luke 18:28-30)
“I know I need to change, but it’s too scary or painful.”“The pain of change is nothing compared to the excitement of the vision.” (Hebrews 12:11)

God loves creating something from nothing. The vision of who he’s helping us become is worth the brief pain of change.

“A woman does not give birth before she feels the pain. A woman must feel the pain of childbirth before she can see the boy she gives birth to. Who ever heard of such a thing? In the same way, no one ever saw a new world begin in one day. No one has ever heard of a new nation that began in one day. But when Zion feels the pain, she will give birth to her children. [9] In the same way, I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” The LORD says this: “I promise that if I cause you the pain of birth, I will not stop you from having your new nation.” Your God said this.

Isaiah 66:7-9 ERV

Pause and reflect

  • Which “stuck mindsets” do I relate to most? What “vision mindset” can I practice this week?
  • What “something new” is God trying to create in my life? How can I grab hold of that vision this week?

Stage Three: Making Decisions

Once we are aware that we need to change and have a vision motivating us forward, it’s time to start planning to take action. 

In this stage, we are planning the steps we need to take, and what we need most is to know we are believed in. We need encouragement and faith, and we can get it from two excellent sources: God and friends.

God is in our corner

And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.

Philippians 1:6 TLB

If God puts a vision on our hearts, he’s not going to give up until that vision comes to fruition! God knew what he signed up for when he decided to help us, so he’s with us every step of the way as we try to grow and change. 

While we are in the decision-making phase, we can find the strength to keep growing by finding scriptures that both remind us of God’s promises to stick by us every step of the way and encourage and motivate us to move forward.

Our friends are in our corner

“Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” [7] “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”

1 Samuel 14:6-7 NLT

Friends make everything better. Jonathan was trying to accomplish something that was seemingly impossible, but he felt invincible with God and a friend by his side. We all need that friend who says “I’m with you completely.” 

As we start to take on some changes in our lives, we are more likely to stick to our decisions if we grab a friend to do it with us. We can go through each step together, and encourage each other to keep moving forward when it gets hard. 

Pause and reflect

  • What promises from God can I hold onto to feel believed in by him?
  • What 2-3 friends can I take on changing something together with?

Stage Four: Action and Perseverance 

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march! [16] Use your rod-hold it out over the water, and the sea will open up a path before you, and all the people of Israel shall walk through on dry ground!

Exodus 14:15-16 TLB

At a certain point, there is only so much more planning and motivating and encouraging we can do. We need to get moving, which is what God told Moses at the banks of the Red Sea. 

If we do the internal work of being aware of our needs, catching hold of the vision, and trusting that God and friends will pull through for us, the next step is to take the leap. 

I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!”

Psalm 32:8-9 TPT

God wants to take us places we’ve not been before. We will never know or prepare enough to be ready. We will always have a reason to doubt or not change. Our fear may never completely go away. We may not know what to do. But we can take a step forward, one at a time, and enjoy the journey of growing with God.

Blessed are those who make You their strength, for they treasure every step of the journey [to Zion].

Psalm 84:5 Voice

Growth doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why we need to treasure every step of our journey. This is the “perseverance” stage of the growth process. Sometimes we will find ourselves cycling back into earlier stages of the process. We might grow unaware again of our need to change, or think we have changed enough. We might become resistant and no longer want to make changes. We might quit and need friends to help us get started again. That’s okay—the goal is not to be perfect, but to keep growing!

Pause and reflect

  • In what area have I been hesitating to take the next step forward?
  • What can that next step forward be?

Final thoughts

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Ephesians 3:20 NLT

God can transform us in ways that are infinitely beyond anything we can think of, and he does it by working within us. He works at giving us awareness and vision, and he helps us believe that anything is possible. As we trust and rely on God, we can step out and walk right on top of the roaring waves of pressure, resistance, and fear. Before we know it, we will leave our old battered boats behind and walk on water towards a life greater than we can imagine.

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Why Am I Afraid to Change? 7

Alexis Colvin is a writer and editor for Deep Spirituality, and is passionate about using her creative skills to apply spiritual concepts to music and other forms of pop culture.

Why Am I Afraid to Change? 7

Alexis Colvin is a writer and editor for Deep Spirituality, and is passionate about using her creative skills to apply spiritual concepts to music and other forms of pop culture.

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