January 23, 2013

The Only Constant

Change is inevitable.  They say it doesn't come easy, but I've always been a fan.  I remember in college, when I'd get to feeling restless I'd suddenly rearrange the furniture in my residence hall room -- much to the surprise of my unsuspecting but preternaturally easy-going and patient roommate.  I used to get my hair cut in the same way.  I'd wake up one morning and decide, "I'm ready for a change!"  Sometimes, my impetuousness led to regret, but the furniture can be moved back.  Hair grows.

As I've grown older, I don't feel any more afraid of change than I ever was, but I'm considerably slower to initiate it.  I've become, perhaps, more wary of the potential for regret. Unlike my younger years, I have people who depend on me -- kids and a husband who expect the furniture to stay put, whose security such changes on my personal whim would disrupt.

Still, change comes.  Sometimes I invite it.  Sometimes it comes to find me.  Either way, once it's here, I have to adapt.

It's then that I notice attachments of which I may have been unaware, because when change arrives, the something new is often pushing out something old.  Sometimes it's all to the good.  Occasionally it's all bad.  But most often it's mixed, good and bad:  My husband's new job has meant new opportunities pushing out some of the old pressures -- but also less money.  My kids going to school has meant new friends and wider horizons pushing out some of the time we used to spend together -- but also some of the bickering we used to do.

Changes that happen on the inside can feel like the same mixed bag.  Maybe it's growth I've been hoping and praying for, healing an old wound or breaking a bad habit.  Even so, I may not like the new me either, at least not at first.  I don't recognize her right off.  I'm not used to her.  The old labels suddenly fit like I've been rummaging in someone else's closet.  There's a pull here, a bagginess there.  I wonder where the old, comfortable, familiar me has gone.

I may be tempted to put the furniture back the way it was.

Eventually, I adapt.  I may have to slow down to remember there's a new order to things.  Then, before long, I don't need so carefully to watch my step so as not to bump into things.  In time I find that I can make my way around this new arrangement, even with my eyes closed.

But I keep my eyes open.  I know from experience that I need to be on the look-out.  Change tends to beget change.  Once I've said yes to the possibility of something new and different coming into my life, it will keep coming.  Because when we are open, God uses our openness to keep stripping away the old and bringing in the new, until we become like him, "until all of us come...to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).

Such change, finally, is not like my youthful reaction to restlessness, nor even my more measured wariness of regret.  It starts with me, with my willing heart, but after that, I'm the roommate, coming home to myself, and God is doing the rearranging.  It is I who am invited to welcome the surprise with patience and trust.

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