Wednesday November 28…
I am lying in my bed propped up on pillows. My dog sleeps beside me stretched out where a boyfriend or husband should be. It is nighttime and I am processing my day.
A friend texted me this morning, panicking about another mutual friend. He said all these things and it hurt her feelings and he’s being a hypocrite and she can’t handle it and his new girlfriend is affecting their friendship… and finally we are at the heart of the issue. New and old. Just found and always been around.
This afternoon I listened to a son’s confession that his parents were divorcing. He told their story which is inextricably his story. From living quarters to family dynamics, much will be changing. Familiar and unfamiliar. Only known and the unknown.
Tonight I drove to a friend’s house to wish his mother good luck on a very invasive surgery scheduled for this weekend. Her daughter was there with her new baby and I watched my friend’s mom cuddle her grandchild. It was quite the juxtaposition: a healthy baby body held to the breast of a sick, older body. Even with the warmth and optimism of the family, the impending surgery and weeks of recovery reminded me what a transition this time would be in their lives. Everyone adjusts: gets assigned new tasks around the house, new weekends to drive to the hospital in Houston, new prayers to offer up to God.
It’s constantly confronting us, is it not?
Starting college means saying goodbye to high school: it means making new friends, improving study habits, making new (to you) decisions, and it means learning to drop the teenage attitude and preparing to live maturely as an adult. Some of the transitions happen quickly like moving out of your house and into a dorm, others may take you the whole four years to process. Starting college means saying goodbye to high school.
Getting a new boyfriend means really letting go of the old one. It means stopping the obsessing over old injuries and giving someone new a chance to do something right. It means adjusting to different mannerisms, different habits, different favorite restaurants, different favorite songs. It means you take a risk to let this be its own relationship – not an extension of one you wish you still had or lament you ever engaged. Getting a new girlfriend means really letting go of the old one.
Losing your job means hunting for a new one and then adjusting to working in that new place. It means accepting terms of resignation and being faced with the option to improve. It means re-evaluating your dreams, goals, and desires in life. It means telling your family and friends, facing old hurts, creating new ones. It means settling for or gratefully accepting a new salary. It means meeting a new boss, new co-workers, discovering who makes the coffee in the office and whether or not it’s too strong. It means learning who to avoid on Monday mornings and who is great to go to with questions. It means taking down the pictures in your old cubby and deciding whether they are still fitting for your new one. Losing your job means hunting and adjusting.
Transition is all around us. And no matter what traditions we uphold to keep the past the present, change will always make its way in. Amidst they hymns come the praise songs; where there once were candles, flickering lights now brighten our tree. Summer of your sweet 16 comes summer of your sweet 26th and some things never stay the same.
This is the perfect week for transition. In most places in the country, the trees are fully colored and perhaps even turning brown. The first snows fall signaling winter and our house decorations experience their own changing of the guard as well. If you have managed to avoid Christmas until after the Thanksgiving holidays, then this past weekend you threw away the pumpkins and brought out the reindeer to decorate your yard. The red, brown and yellow fall leaves scattered across our tablecloths last week have given way to the green and red of holly and mistletoe. Boxes are pulled out, dusted off and emptied while others are returned, put away until next year. It’s transition time. We pull out our winter coats and hang up our jackets. In Texas, we put away our swimsuits and set out our scarves. Transition happens that fast. Toys are changing, new, improved; faster, funnier, fuzzier toys take to the shelves and leave behind the competition.
It’s that time of year.
Transition. It is all around us. Some of it we anticipate, yearn for even – those warm fires, those happy holiday feelings. But some of it comes with the ebb and flow of life and it catches us off guard – almost every time.
Transition. The old is gone, the new has come. And that was just yesterday.
* * * *
The old has gone and the new has come and it has caught us off guard. Sometimes transition is slow and we feel like it is more manageable when we can adjust in small doses, but a death or a diagnosis never falls softer than a rock and even so it never hurts any less.
As the world changes around us, we have several choices. We can reject transition and pretend it isn’t happening. We can resist it with the core of our being and in doing so allow our own destruction, bitter and blinding. Or we can seek an alternative.
To everything, turn, turn, turn. The world is turning, our lives are changing, and we will make ourselves sick resisting transition.
But be transformed, God says, by the renewing of your mind.
When transition is frightening or even just unsettling, we must offer God our minds and our hearts, and in faith, we must allow God to change us and grow us. Transition will not destroy us unless we let it. But if we allow God to work good in our lives, then as transition comes, as the old moves on and the new moves in, we become more like Christ, more dependant on God to carry us through, more enabled to help others experiencing their own transition.
We must look up. When we are afraid, we must look up. When change overwhelms us, we must look up. God is with us and around us and in us and God will not let us live scared of newness and scared of life. Rather, God will give us the courage to face this changing world head on. God has given us community to work with, to encourage us, to love the world. God has given us beauty to give us hope, give us an outlet for creativity, to remind us God is present. God has given us the Spirit to comfort us, to stimulate us, to grow us, to sustain us, to enable us to change the world.
For even as the world seeks to change us, so do we challenge the world to change too.
The world will never stop turning and change will never leave us be. The same old, same old, doesn’t really exist and truly things are always changing. But we do not have to be afraid. We must take courage and be very brave. For in Christ even we are changed and offered the newness of life in Christ. Newness that will never end and newness that makes all the difference in the world…
Nov. 29, 2007