I guess we’d better get used to it: the one thing that is constant in life is change. It’s also the most challenging. So much of the human struggle has to do with our desperate desire either to escape what is painful or to hold on to what feels good. We are either longing for our circumstances to change, or fearing and hating a change that threatens us.
But whether we go willingly into the next step in our lives or refuse to take it, letting go eventually will be forced on us, because change is inevitable; and how should it not be? Life itself is growth and withering; gaining, holding on, and letting go.
As one thing dies – one day, one relationship, one hope, one painful or happy condition – something new emerges. Within the created order, that is the dance and the story of life. The man and woman I’m imagining in my novel-in-the-making are facing enormous changes, and how they react to the good fortune or the disastrous has consequences for them. One of the most important choices we can make is how we’ll handle change when it’s thrust upon us. That’s when our approach to life and our developing character shine forth for us to see. It’s where we learn the lessons that will shape the new person we will become.
Paradoxically, often the most good emerges out of the most painful endings. But not always. As important as the changes that come are the choices we make in the moment. I’ve watched that happening over the years in myself and in the people around me. So each change presents us with the question, how will we handle this? The issues each time are these: how will we come to terms with the past and how will we face the future? It may help to hear a story told by preacher John Claypool. In his words:
“Years ago a thunderstorm came through southern Kentucky at the farm where my Claypool forebears have lived for six generations. In the orchard, the wind blew over an old pear tree that had been there as long as anybody could remember. The story is that my grandfather was really grieved to lose the tree where he had climbed as a boy and whose fruit he had eaten all his life.
“A neighbor came by and said, ‘Doc, I’m really sorry to see your pear tree blown down.’
“My grandfather said, ‘I’m sorry too, it was a real part of my past.’
“The neighbor said, ‘What are you going to do?’
“My grandfather paused for a long moment and then said, ‘I’m going to pick the fruit and burn what’s left.’
“That’s such a wise way of working with the past,” wrote John Claypool. “We do need to pick the fruit. We do need to learn its lessons. Amnesia is a sickness and not an asset. But having learned what the past can teach us, we need to pick the fruit, burn what’s left, and go on.”
May you have a blessed day, and may all your changing times produce good fruit.