The older I get, the more similarities I see across generations. Not the cultural stuff. That’s all pretty different. But the real stuff. Stuff like believing that we all have purpose, that our dreams aren’t just vain imaginings, and that our being here really matters.
We all get messed with sometimes, though. Something can change–in a big or small way–and we can be left feeling smothered by discouragement. The imperfect world we live in houses trials and triumphs. Tears and laughter. Life keeps moving and we get to choose what we think about all the changes that come our way.
Sometimes we choose the change and celebrate. Other times, it chooses us and we have to search for the good. In reality, we have been practicing for these changes from our earliest days. As a young child, we leave safe and familiar homes for school. We don’t realize that things will never be exactly the same again. The moms, yeah, they know. They go back and forth because their lives will never be exactly the same either.
The “change drill” continues with smaller milestones like double digit birthdays, and bigger ones like graduation. Then there’s moving out on our own, getting married, and becoming a parent. All big changes require leaving something behind. In even the most celebratory, we leave parents, friends, roommates, the single life, or the carefree married life.
And those are the changes we gladly choose. As we get older, they begin to choose us. And sometimes we don’t like them. As much practice as we have had, sometimes it feels like we got whacked from behind. What the heck just happened to my life???
But really, the drill is the same one we have been practicing for years. We have to leave things behind sometimes. And that’s going to have to be ok. This last season brought some big changes, and I had to find ways to stop focusing on what was being left behind. I think whether we’re young or old, when we go through big changes or minor adjustments, a couple things help keep our thoughts right: doing something opposite of how we feel, deciding to never give up, and believing in the power of redemption.
1. Doing something opposite of how we feel. This doesn’t have to be lofty and complicated. It could be simply declaring that love is stronger than anything else. Or that kindness always counts. Or that our seemingly crushed plans are still possible.This past season, I had to find something every day. Some days I got with a friend for a walk or coffee. Some days I lit a candle in a dark space. Some days I headed out to find an inspirational book. Some days I just prayed for grace and trusted tomorrow was a new day.
2. Deciding to never give up. Because it really IS a choice. That doesn’t mean we are always chirpy. It doesn’t mean we never want to give up. It doesn’t mean that we can’t get help. Some days it means declaring, “I can’t see it right now. But if I stay in the game today, I win.”
3. Believing in the power of redemption. It helps to believe that change can be a valuable and wise teacher. And challenges are opportunities for growth that maybe we wouldn’t have pursued voluntarily. It might take a while to let go, but letting go isn’t the entire point. We have to allow life to teach us so we can move forward freer…freer to give, freer to love, freer to be who we were created to be.
Let’s celebrate all the transitions we get to choose. But let’s note how often we leave something behind as we do. We are practicing for other, maybe more difficult, transitions–learning to trust the process of life. And that will serve us in every season of change we go through.