Do you dread change? Elizabeth Reardon discusses faith-filled ways to approach the inevitable.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
(St. Teresa of Calcutta)
With the start of fall, new calendars and schedules, and soon, clocks, it is no wonder that our thoughts quite naturally gravitate to the notion of change. Yet, so often we view change as something to be resisted, avoided, and fought. What if, however we flipped our understanding of change as something to embrace, to advocate and necessary for growth and peace? In St. Teresa of Calcutta, we remember a woman who not only lived this upturned notion of change but inspired countless others to do the same. In her desire to follow Christ, she was a light of love for the unloved and unwanted, a living witness to the embodiment of change in every life she touched.
Learn to Anticipate Change.
My own awareness to the inevitability of change began early on, as the daughter of a single mom who seeking to acquire a better teaching position hoped also to provide a better life. With each move, came a new school, new church, surroundings and thankfully new friends too. My mom had a knack, which she passed on to me, of discovering the treasure that each relocation offered. On the weekends, we would venture out exploring museums, historical sites, little shops and the new “little pond” we found ourselves in. One of my favorite memories was to wake up and simply pack a picnic tote, throw on a swimsuit and head on down to the Mississippi River with a fishing pole in hand. Did you catch anything, you might ask? Rarely, was it ever fish. Instead our eyes caught a glimpse of the horizon, an embrace of a beautiful day, the gift of time well spent, and an acceptance of the chance of rain tomorrow.
Some Resistance is Necessary.
My own children who have not had the same exposure to change, are quick at times to resist even the slightest alteration of their expectation. This resistance was none more evident than in my then 5 year old son’s response to the removal of the shrub that was growing up, around, and through our back deck. Though it was pushing up the boards and causing significant structural damage, it had been there as long as he had known. Compelling his outcry, “But you can’t. I loved that tree!...I can’t imagine me without it!
This brings me to the recognition that resistance is preemptive to change. In order to move ahead, we have to give up the comfortable, customary, and conditioned environment that we have become accustomed to. If we seek to remain where we are, despite the ground moving and shifting under our feet we can no longer grow as Our Father intended. There is a fruitlessness then of pouring new wine into old wineskins, for our minds and hearts cannot accept the new good that God has planned if we are content with the old wine. (Lk 5:33-39) Transformation is necessary and this isn’t a onetime deal but a continual openness to the Holy Spirit.
Change within Community
For those unaware, there have been incredible and much needed changes taking place through a collaboration of parishes within the archdioceses throughout the country. In an effort to streamline councils, fully utilize staff and resources, account for a growing shortage of parish priest, pastoral planning is in place to better meet the needs of the people of God. This path is not without challenges and the greatest of these is in accepting that change is necessary and that a new more vibrant community is possible. In letting go of our fears, we are able to foster new relationships, focus our resources on the mission of evangelization before us, and to realize the unity of our Catholic faith as the body of Christ in the world.
Learning to embrace change is moving forward from a mindset of consenting to it as a plan B, to conceiving it as your plan A. What was it that Robert Burns so poetically phrased? “The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry, and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy!” Where our plans fail, there is such joy in trusting God, the author of change to create our day, to fill it with surprise and yes, change. If asked if you thought you would be where you are today, how many of us could have envisaged the present?
Learning to embrace change is moving forward from a mindset of consenting to it as a plan B, to conceiving it as your plan A. #catholicmom
Father, we ask ourselves "How can we spare change, and you answer how can we not? You have such amazing promises in store for each of us! Though we may experience “growing pains” through challenges, you know that this is the path for true transformation and peace. Holy Spirit, come and help open our hearts to be receptive to change, Father, please take our lives and let us to be the change you wish to see in the world!
Copyright 2020 Elizabeth Reardon
Image: Pexels (2018)
About the Author
Elizabeth Reardon is Director of Parish Ministries and Pastoral Associate for the Collaborative Parishes of Resurrection & St. Paul in Hingham, Massachusetts; a wife and mother of three, and writer at TheologyIsAVerb.com. Her writing is an invitation to seek and create space for God in the midst of the busyness of everyday life.