“Change is a constant. Growth is a choice.” –Dr. Leonard Sweet
I’ve been thinking about this quote for a few weeks now. I think it is true. So many of the things we perceive as permanent are not really; they may be part of a larger trend or a trajectory that we might predict (or even rely on), but that doesn’t mean they are not going to change. The people in our lives change. The seasons change. The earth changes.
We saw glaciers this summer that formed over thousands of years and carved those beautiful landscapes over thousands more. Soon the glaciers themselves may soon melt away, but an ongoing process continues to unfold. The summer is waning, children are back in school (many of whom end the summer taller than when summer started), our Methodist friends will soon be enjoying their renewed building and we will be back to “normal.”
But what is “normal?” Aren’t the constants we so rely on all part of processes like the glaciers, that make their slow but gradual push against us in a way we often take for granted?
Change is a constant. Our lives are constantly evolving; our faith is continually being defined, even Jesus, “the same today, tomorrow and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), meets us in new ways as we encounter new challenges.
Growth is a choice. The question before us is how do we perceive the change we discover around us? Is it something we keep at arm’s length or deal with directly? Are we moving too fast or too slow? Do we learn from our experiences – both good and bad – or do we shrug them off and try to recapture a changelessness about ourselves that does not really exist?
One of the symbols for change is a triangle. A triangle is also a symbol for the Holy Trinity. As we consider the changes we see around us we can also take a step beyond ourselves to see God at work: shaping, guiding and nudging us forward in ways we have missed until now or have yet to fully realize. Asking, “What is God up to here?” provides a good place to begin to discern which direction we might go or might already be headed.
My hunch is that we hinder or welcome growth in our lives depending on how we perceive the changes we discover around us. Changes can be viewed as either threats or opportunities. Even the hardships we face in our lives provide an opportunity for greater self-reflection. Change will come. Growth is optional. My invitation to you is to meet those changes with the courage and openness to grow along with them. You may discover something wonderful in the process.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace… I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 14)