I guess change is always happening. We only seem to notice the changes that we didn’t choose or the ones that affect the direction we hope our lives are going in. Some are better at riding the waves of change, while some of us sputter and resist it as if we can alter the reality that change will occur – whether we are ready for it or not. I guess it’s a lot like surfing. Those who love surfing know that their job is to simply balance and let the waves carry them forward. You’ve seen it, right? A wave that is just short of a tsunami with a lone surfer who moves skillfully on the board, adjusting their balance as they accommodate the power of the ocean.
And, then there are those of us who would lay plastered to the board, hanging on for dear life with hopes of getting through this experience so life can get back to normal. (Or, at least, get us back to the shore for a mai tai to calm our nerves…)
Either way, our surfers are changed – making ‘normal’ an elusive quest. I imagine our talented surfer would complete their ride energized through the knowledge that they became one with such a magnificent force of nature, while the novice might shut down…maybe just a little…from being so terrified that their future response would be avoidance. The experience changed them both.
I didn’t want my children to go to college. Oh, I did…but, I didn’t. I knew they needed to go as much for learning adult life skills as for the academics. Yet, it threw the balance of our home into chaos and I didn’t know if I could ride that wave and survive it with grace. I received a plant at a celebratory lunch prior to graduation at my daughter’s high school. It was an odd looking bulb plant with spiky leaves. New to gardening, I was confident I could grow anything. The leaves grew longer and longer over the summer months. I guess that’s okay, but it was boring. August came and it was time to take her to school – a mere thirteen hour drive from home. Did she know everything she needed to know for dorm life? Were her study skills adequate for a university curriculum? Would she be able to find her way safely around a new city? Was she ready for life away from parental influence? Okay, she was ready…but was I? She was like the first surfer – ready to move with the changes before her. I wanted to embrace the change, but found it intimidating and difficult.
The thing is, during our absence from home my plant had sent up a long stem which was full of flowers. When I saw it, it was as if I was being offered reassurance by God that she, too, will bloom – just let her grow into that which she was created to be. Change…
Ironically, ‘change’ is often wrapped up in a conversation that attempts to place God as the author of the change. Like, God causes the problem, the illness, the move, the conflict, the accident…well the list never ends…just so God can test us? God, the same God that is described as, “kind and true, patient, and ruling all things in mercy,” (Wisdom of Solomon 15:1) will pick an occasion to cause us pain just to see if we somehow learn from it or pass some divine rite of passage? That doesn’t sound much like a kind, true, patient, merciful being!
When we see such a glaring inconsistency, we have to question our conventional ‘wisdom’ or understanding. My daughter – who, by the way did graduate from college with a degree in engineering – will frequently say, “correlation is not causation.” Maybe the belief that, “God is present in all situations” has morphed into the inconclusive hypothesis that, “If God is present in all situations, then God must cause all situations.” Our human rationalization for this leads us to the assumption that God wants to judge us through tests – or assaults – targeted toward disrupting our lives. Remember, “correlation is not causation.” Just because we can connect two dots doesn’t mean we have the full picture. Maybe our real test is not the situation causing us to have gut wrenching stress. Maybe it is to see God’s presence in and around and through the situation, redeeming it, not causing it, and to simply trust that God is.
Change. We can fight it or we can embrace it. Either way, it happens around us, through us and within us. The only thing we have control over is how we react to it. We can be energized or we can wither. We can live in worry or we can accept God’s assurance that God’s presence, grace and love is aways and everywhere in this amazing creation. Look for the blooms on the plant. You will find them!