On Change

Leaves

This month I left my job. I recently accepted a new position as Minister to Children and Families at another church, and I’ll start there in February.  It’s a church I love and know well—the church where we got married and where I had my first experience in ministry.  It’s a church that holds a very special place in my heart, and I’m thrilled to be going back there.  Even still, leaving was incredibly hard. I’m attached to my kids, and leaving meant saying goodbye to them. I know that I won’t get to see them continue to grow and learn new things about God and how much he loves them. I know I won’t get to experience the fruit of what I’ve been building, and that is a hard thing to lose.

Change is like that, of course. It almost always involves saying goodbye. Sometimes the things we say goodbye to are things we need to let go of for one reason or another. But sometimes they are wonderful things. Sometimes we have to say goodbye to something we love, something that has made our lives richer and better, in order to create space for something else.

Change is a part of life. Life is always moving, and that is part of what makes it so beautiful.  As we grow, we are constantly reweaving the way we think and understand the world. If are moving forward, we are opening ourselves up to change. But it’s not easy.

I love the way my favorite writer, Shauna Niequist, talks about change:

This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it’s incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God’s hand, which is where you wanted to be all long, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be. I’ve learned the hard way that change is one of God’s greatest gifts, and most useful tools. Change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us. It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways. I’ve learned that it’s not something to run away from, as though we could, and that in many cases, change is a function of God’s graciousness, not life’s cruelty.

She’s right, of course. Change is hard and painful and scary, and that’s where I am right now. I have felt God in every step of this process, and I know that I will look back on this season of change with deep gratitude. But for now I’m somewhere in between. I’m grieving the goodbye at the same time I’m looking forward to the next chapter. And all along the way I’m learning again that change is the hardest kind of gift. 

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