My, how quickly things can change…
Six months ago I believed that today, July 1, would be a wonderful day. On this day of this year I would become a full-time Associate Minister here at First Christian Church. On this day, in this place, I would begin growing and expanding the borders of my ministerial efforts – pastoral care, visitation, oversight of a new foray into Rotation Model Sunday School… There were so many plans, so many hopes…
My, how quickly things can change.
Yesterday I accepted a call to full-time ministry at a different congregation in a different state. Due to economic fears, financial fears, fear of change (the operative word here is fear), my position was not made full time and two months ago I found myself sticking a hesitant toe into search and call waters… Now, two months later, I am experiencing a new call (or at least a new direction for the call that has always been)… and despite the sadness of leaving what was, despite the grief for what could have been, I am excited for what is and what can be. Everything has been spun around…and it is invigorating!
My, how quickly things can change!!
In the midst of all this, I can’t help but contemplate change. I like to think myself a savvy embracer of change, but the past few months have forced me to acknowledge that change absolutely terrifies me. I know that change is better than stagnation. I understand that without change, we die. I believe that the Spirit is constantly urging us towards more faithful manifestations of the Kin-dom of God on earth. I preach these things, teach these things, pray these things…but when the breath of God starts blowing my direction, my first inclination is to dive for the storm cellar and wait it out in fretful hiding.
Why does change scare us so much?
I’m not sure that I have a definitive answer – but I can definitely speak for myself on this one. Change terrifies me not because it points me towards the unknown but because it forces me to acknowledge that I am not in complete control of my life. I’m not your stereotypical control freak – I enjoy chaos, am at home in liminal spaces, and am comfortable being flexible…so long as the chaos, liminality and flexibility don’t directly apply to my own life. I don’t try to control the lives of others – but this doesn’t keep me from holding my own life between white-knuckled hands. More often than not, I imagine myself in control of my own destiny – and consequently, even a breeze through the screen door of my life is usually treated like a tornado.
But are any of us really in control? More importantly, do I really want to be in control? The Dr. Phil inside my head leers at me with a “How’s that working out for you?” – and if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that it hasn’t worked out very well. When I hold my life in a vice-like grip, it doesn’t keep change from happening. It just means that I arrive in a new place with more bruises than necessary.
I’m beginning to realize that part of treating myself gently involves loosening up and letting go. Besides, a glass of iced tea tastes a whole lot better on a breezy front porch than it does in a storm cellar… I haven’t gotten it all figured out, but this glass of tea might just be the beginning of some much-needed change.