I hate and love change.
Sometimes change is most welcome: when you finally get a new job; when you finally move into that better place, and when that baby finally decides to be born. There are times when change is desired, sought after, even prayed and begged for.
The change that cancer is in remission.
The change that you are no longer in debt.
The change that you get to throw away your “fat” clothes.
But change is also a nasty beast. When life is floating merrily along, change is the white water rapids which you didn’t expect to throw everyone out of the boat.
Loss of job and/or house.
It’s when God whispers, “Plot Twist” in your ear, and you know nothing will ever, ever be quite the same again. And often, it’s a huge battle in our minds to decide if this latest plot twist is a good one or not.
But change has to happen, for these terrible, marvelous reasons:
1. It’d be horrible for things to stay the same. Don’t believe me? Think about this: What if your baby really did stay little forever? Never learning to speak, or walk, or play? After a while, you’d grow annoyed, even dissatisfied with this creature who does nothing but leaches off of you, year after year, whining and crying and demanding you carry it around. While it’s sad to see our little one outgrow those newborn clothes, it’s also thrilling to hear their first laughs, see them figure out how to toddle, and watch their personalities grow.
We don’t really want things to stay the same. We’re excited when that baby is old enough to catch a ball, when we can take him camping, or to the movies. While one stage quietly fades away, a new, even better stage takes its place. Progress is exciting.
2. We’re not mean to be stable. It’s the one thing in life most of us crave—stability. Maybe we crave it because it’s so elusive. I cringe whenever I read articles about money management and budgeting, because our income is rarely the same each month. And our family life is always changing; kids never have the same schedules year to year, and someone is always doing something new, somewhere else, with someone else. They go to different schools, go to college or the army, and find significant others, once again changing the dynamics of our family.
And thank goodness. Because, honestly, I find I get bored with predictability. While we crave stability, I think a lot of us also crave adventure. That’s why we go on vacations, take up new hobbies, write books, take classes, take on new challenges. We need to be shaken up every now and then. Snow globes aren’t interesting until after they’ve been tumbled around.
3. What would we miss if we didn’t change? Years ago we built our dream house, with a huge yard, and plans that we’d stay there forever. It’d be where our grandkids came to visit us.
Four short years later, we lost that home and had to move two thousand miles away. I was bitter that we lost our dream.
After two more moves, we settled in rural Virginia, and our kids had adventures we never could have had otherwise. We traveled and learned and had a great time.
Not long ago we had the opportunity to drive by our old “dream house.” I was startled to hear myself say out loud, “I’m so glad we didn’t stay here.”
Because staying would have been terrible . . . for me. I realized then, as I looked at our old house, who I would have been had we never left. I would have been narrow-minded, fearful, and quite prideful, I’m ashamed to admit, had I stayed in my small town, with my small ideas, and with my small ambitions. I needed to change, in order to help my nine children who have so many different challenges. Our change changed everything, and I liked who I had become because I was forced to change.
4. The only way to grow is through change. And I’m not just talking about our children. I’m talking about us—adults. We’re not done improving simply because we hit a certain age, although some may think we are.
I once met a woman who lived in the same house she was born in. She never traveled out of her little town, except occasionally down to the “big city” ninety miles away, which she found a terrifying place. She married and raised her family and lived to be quite aged, all staying in the same neighborhood, and only occasionally crossing the state line to visit a grandson in another rural community.
At first, I envied her. She had a place that was home. At the time, we were moving around a lot, and all I wanted was a place to consider a permanent home.
But I was struck by a strange sense of stagnancy. Of dullness. Of fear. Of entrapment as I chatted with her. She’d never seen the ocean. The “distant” states of Colorado and California were evil and horrible places. When she heard of all the states we’d lived in, she literally pulled back, almost as if she feared I was contagious. She promptly turned to the person next to her—a long-time neighbor—and started up a new, safer, more predictable conversation.
I didn’t feel as nearly as contaminated as my acquaintance thought I was. Moving to new states, starting new jobs, beginning new projects are—initially—terrifying, but eventually invigorating. I think about how much I’ve changed over the years, and I like what I’ve picked up along the way.
This poor, dear woman, however, never felt she could leave. Her great-grandparents settled the area as pioneers, and she felt duty-bound to stay where they had landed.
I always wondered if it ever occurred to her that her ancestors once started somewhere else, and made a lot of changes in their lives to get where they finally ended? That perhaps they appreciated the changes they experienced, and maybe were sad that she never encountered any?
The purpose of life is growth through change, and that thought is simultaneously terrifying and thrilling.
Last month I was harvesting berries in our yard which, after eight years of work, is nearly exactly the way we want it. Our neighborhood is wonderful, the valley picturesque. We’re conveniently situated to all our children and the colleges they want to attend, and we love where we live . . .
Then God whispered into my ear those two words which terrify and thrill me: “PLOT TWIST.“
“No!” I nearly cried out. We’ve finally got some stability! Predictability! . . . Wait.
Have I become complacent? Narrow-minded? Or, even worse, stagnant?
Within a handful of short days, my husband was recruited, interviewed, and invited to take his dream job . . . thousands of miles away.
Change, coming again. I handled it in the most mature manner possible: I wept every day for three weeks.
Then God started trickling into my mind the reminders I listed above, knowing that while I’d “kick against the pricks” for a while, eventually I’d become intrigued. He patiently ignored my protestations, just like I do when I pat my children on the head as they whine about something they don’t want to do, but later will realize they really wanted all the time.
God’s smirking at me right now—yes, He does smirk. Because He also knows just how much I love a good plot twist.
But usually not while I’m in the very long middle of it, where I can’t see the outcome. While we’re trying to figure out if this change is temporary or permanent, who will join Dad and when, do we rent our old house, keep it, or sell it, then what will we move into, once we finally join Dad in several months . . .
I hate it.
I love it.
Right now, however, I just hate it. Mostly. (I have to confess, the coast of Maine is intriguing . . .)
Stay tuned. Plots change every day.
Crud and hallelujah.
Eventually Mahrree whispered, “I never wanted to leave this house . . . Every good memory is in this house.”
The woman answered just as softly. “And you take every good memory with you. Your life isn’t the house. Your life is your family. Things don’t matter. People do.”
Book 4, The Falcon in the Barn