Changing times

(c) Dragan Boskovic - Fotolia
(c) Dragan Boskovic – Fotolia

(This post is an expanded re-blog of some thoughts I shared 2 years ago. They ‘re no less true today. If anything they’re more true now.)

Remember the Bob Dylan song, “The Times They Are A-changin’”? It was a famous anthem of the 1960’s, written as a call to enter into the radical changes called for in those days. Well, these are changing times as well, not just for me but for all of us. The title of the song often comes to haunt me. Growing up and aging, all by themselves, force change on us, but greater even than those very personal experiences are the huge cultural, social, economic, technological and even ecological shifts that we are all experiencing. No one can help but feel the world changing around us, and though many try to stave it off by tying themselves to some anchor in their lives, nothing can stop the sweeping changes from impacting us.

The truth is, I’ve always loved change and often longed for it. I love the sense of experiencing new things. Most of my life, after a few years of anything (a place I’ve lived, a job I’ve held, a time at school), I’ve longed for something new. I get restless, I begin to feel things hardening around me, and I begin to want to move on. My melancholy, when I’m feeling it, is that my hope of something new lying ahead is diminished.  So I’m sensitive these days to feeling things slip away from me: old hopes, old expectations. It isn’t as if I want to hold on to anything, or go back to anything, though. What pinches most is the growing sense that the future is no longer wide open. It’s wide open for some, but no longer for me, not the way it used to be.

I’ve learned some things about change over the years, and one of them is that while some of us long for it, most people fear and hate it and will resist it with all their power.  However foolish is the wish to hold the world still, the reasons to resist change are often strongly held and may vary widely. Some people seem to be happy with what is and want to keep it; others fear the loss of control that change suggests; others just don’t like the feeling of being unsettled and not knowing what comes next; and some have no real hope of things getting better, so that the known always looks like a better bet than the unknown. But love it or hate it, few of us see change for what it really is: part of the creative energy of God, built into the fabric of life.

Change is normal for all living things, and to cease to change (to grow) is to cease to be fully engaged  with life.  Change is the gift of God, calling us into the new  possibilities that are emerging and that we can’t possibly know yet, but that God does know. Engaging with the change that is being thrust upon us is an act of trust. Letting go of what anchors us to anything but God is a good thing — even if it hurts in the process.

Now here’s the good news: We’re in the best possible company for surviving and thriving through all kinds of change, because God is willing and ready to guide us through the rapids of life and past the shoals if we are willing to be led, toward the future that God, unseen, is working out for us.  When I begin to believe that nothing much lies ahead but more of the same, I try to remember the promise of God, first spoken to a people thrust into  exile from their cherished ways, devastated by loss, and feeling hopeless about the future: “Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jer. 29:11 NRSV)

(c) andrewgenn - Fotolia
(c) andrewgenn – Fotolia

A future with hope! With assurance like that, surely I can take heart and with hope leap into the unfolding future, trusting that I’ll land on my feet. And if I don’t stick the landing, well, I know Whose arms I will fall into.

If you long for some change you fear will never come, take heart: change inevitably does come. If you fear change and resist it painfully, you can take heart nevertheless, because God knows how to carry us through it and bring us to a good place, if we let go and trust him as we ride the tides of change.

May we always be people of such faith and hope that we can enjoy the ride that is our life, whatever changes come.

Peace and joy to you, whatever comes next…

P. S.  If you’d like to recall the youthful Bob Dylan when he sang this challenging song, here are the lyrics.
“The Times They Are A-Changin'”
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

Author: Linda Robinson

Writer, Christian contemplative, concerned citizen.