Change is one of those topics that is so very interesting. It’s something that we’re told that lots of people don’t like. I think that’s a load of rubbish. I think that’s a cover for something else entirely. It’s not people don’t like change. It’s that people don’t like to not have control over the change that is happening, or not have a say over the change that is happening, or have a sense of power over what is changing. That’s what they don’t like. Someone else described it as change as a loss of something. And people mourn that loss and that’s what they don’t like. I think that’s pretty accurate too. Change itself though is not usually the issue by itself. Because change is about as natural and normal as it gets.
Humans and change are an interesting mixture. Humans might be the only creatures on the planet that willfully resist a natural process of life, making us counter to nature and how it functions. We become nature’s opponents in a way, fighting against nature when we resist change and insist on the status quo.
We not only think that we can put ourselves in the place of nature, or put nature in it’s place, by insisting that things be done our way, but we are bold enough to think we can become nature’s God as well in shaping nature to our expectations, desires, wants, and needs – all while thinking that there won’t be any ramifications for such thinking and actions. That’s pretty bold. And we’ll lay blame on “change” while actually meaning something else that resides within ourselves.
Change is so very natural. It’s something that we experience at every moment of our lives, yet we don’t even realize it most of the time. We think it’s something out there, something unique. We think it’s something apart from us, rather than a part of us.
We experience it in the four seasons. We experience it in how it rottens it food if we don’t consume it quick enough. Change happens in the course of our day even – of how the day progresses with light overtaking darkness and then the reverse occurring. All without our control. Change happens with how the temperature warms and cools throughout the day. Change happens to our stomaches as they go from empty to full to empty again. Our bodies operate on systems of change in order to survive and thrive – oxygen, blood, food and digestion, just to name three vital systems. Yet we seem to think that this mythical state of no change exists in the universe somewhere and that we can obtain it and hold onto it. As if we have ever experienced it when we have never in our lives ever had a moment in which we have. Show me somewhere – anywhere – that change has not touched some place in the universe.
Change is the only constant in the universe and in life. Life exists because of change. We would not be alive if it were not for change. Yet so many humans have embraced a false idea that the ideal is the absence of change. How utterly odd.
What is it about change that is so frightening to people? Is it the lack of control? Of knowing? Why embrace and cling to a false idea that is the opposite of life itself? Does the lie of the status quo give us that much comfort? But is a false comfort really any comfort at all?
Is security the most important thing in life? For some people it is. Life is complex and I don’t begrudge people who reach out for security, when their lives are chaos. Everyone is in a different place. As I wrote yesterday, there is no normal.
What is change? Change is common. It’s something we all experience. But we all experience it differently. The best we can hope for is to not experience it alone. Or in fear. Some will feel completely out of control when they experience change. And other will feel the thrill that comes with change. And others will feel something else. Change is here and it persists, whether we want it to or not. That’s for sure. The real question is this – how are we going to approach change? How are we going to face it? How are we going to adapt to it? How are we going to move forward?
And that is the opportunity. But we have to see it as an opportunity.
And that’s the key. We can see change as an opportunity, or we can see change as a threat, or something else entirely.
So what is change? If we are a part of the church, our faith tells us that change is something positive. Change is strewn throughout our theology. We hear about change in the teachings of life, death, resurrection. We hear about change when it comes to transformation. We hear about change when it comes to discipleship. We hear about change when it comes to forgiveness and repentance. We hear about change with grace and mercy. We hear about change with the sacraments – baptism and the Eucharist. We hear about change in so many other ways. Change is life giving in faith. It is an opportunity that comes about because God encounters us and touches our life and as a result – changes us.
But this draws us right back to what we talked about at the very beginning – something that I think lots of people struggle with. With change comes the question of control. Who’s in charge of our life? When we are talking about God encountering us and touching our life and changing us – wow. Do we really want that? Because the real issue is this – we won’t be in charge anymore. No wonder some people are going to resist change. He humans struggle with not being in control over our lives – even when, and maybe especially when, it’s God being put in control over our lives. Discipleship is about not being in control. Or maybe said better – discipleship is acknowledging that we never were in control in the first place. We can stop lying to ourselves.
So what is change? Is it a threat? An opportunity? Who’s in charge? Who’s in control? Is change natural?
Difficult questions. I hope you take some time to struggle through them. To be uncomfortable with them. They are worthwhile questions. It’s not the answers that really matter either. It’s the change that we encounter as we struggle with these questions that does.