(Blogged while listening to Changes by David Bowie)
I have recently moved to a new appointment. (Ch-ch-ch-changes) Many changes are taking place. Change of address, work, community. Change of people, routine, and staff. I love some changes and hate others. I like the change of season from scorching hot to cooler fall. I hate software updates that do not ask my opinion on whether or not I want it. Moving to a new community has its challenges and blessings. There is no Pizza Hut here for delivery, but I love my new house and feel very comfortable here.
Time may change me...
Of course, this is the oldest I have been to move into a new appointment (duh). I find that perhaps I am not adjusting as well as I have in the past. Perhaps it is because this time I am taking time to figure out how to ease in, rather than rushing in. I find I am much more comfortable with coming in and making changes. Churches even expect it. New pastor, new ideas. Maybe this time we can grow! But then they become trained to do what the pastor wants, rather than to come up with something lasting that is truly the congregation's identity. I want to hold out for the quality that comes with patience.
Perhaps this is why I have been reflective about change in general. During a recent morning meditation, I had the thought:
If you don't believe anything will change, you will not do what you are doing for very long.Meaning if you are doing something, putting time and energy into something, that you hope will bring about something better--a better world, a better community, a better church, or even a better you--you must believe that the change can and will happen. I find we often think we want change, but our own actions defeat the very change we want to make because we really do not believe it is possible. We want to be ecologically friendly, but do not think any actions we put into place will make any real difference. So we continue on as before.
This brings to mind the prayer of Mother Teresa now Saint Teresa of Calcutta:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.Another thought I had that morning was:
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa
If you do believe things will change as a result of your work, you must be open to change.That may seem to make sense, if you work toward change things will change. I do not know how many congregations that want change (more funds, more members, more outreach, more impact), but do not really want things to change. It seems they want to bring in more money and new people, but want these new people to do exactly the same things that have always been done. Another example, I want to lose weight, begin an exercise program, and overall become a healthier me. However, I find that as much as I want this change, I also want cookies, pie, candy, ice cream, and all the other goodies I can find.
(Cue Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie)
What I have noticed in life is that change happens whether you want it or not (software updates, etc.), and you have a choice in how you handle it. You can work actively to bring about change that is positive, helpful, and makes things better. You can actively work against change which will bring about change that is negative, detrimental, and makes things worse. You can passively accept whatever the wind and life blow your way. The choice is yours. When we work toward positive change, it is life-giving and life-bringing. When we work against change, that will happen anyway, it brings death.
What changes are you facing in your life? Even good changes like a new baby or new job bring stress. Other changes such as a divorce or death, being fired or an illness, bring even more. How can you actively work to bring about change that is good and positive, knowing that we can never stop change from happening.
Grace and peace.