To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. – Henri Bergson
I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately – change within, change in family dynamics, change in neighborhoods, change in institutions, change in countries. Change can be positive, even exhilarating, if it is our idea. If it isn’t our idea, it can be frightening, even terrifying – even if what is changing is really quite a neutral event.
I think that in order for change to occur some level of movement, disorder, dissatisfaction, or confusion has to be present. Picture, for example, a colorful mobile of animals hanging over a baby’s crib. If there is no movement in the room, the animals are all still. But if a breeze floats through an open window or if the baby grabs the giraffe, the elephant and tiger and lion and monkey all begin to dance. If the baby likes the dance, he may giggle. But if he was startled or just prefers the stillness, he may whimper or cry.
If a change isn’t our choice, we will feel some level of discomfort. Just think of a few of of the synonyms on continuum of words for change: variation, alteration, modification, transformation, revolution, chaos. You may feel twinges of fear by the time you reach the end of the list. No wonder we are resistant to change! Chaos is not one of our favorite states of being. We much prefer an atmosphere of control (especially if we are in control) and order and stability.
So how do we handle the discomfort of change? Most often we try to grab the mobile and try to stop the tiger and lion and elephant and monkey from moving around. Or we let our fear of the unknown take over and create stories about the end results. If this happens, then this will happen, then that will happen, and it will be bad! And most likely we will share these anxious feelings with everyone who will listen and multiply the discomfort. And then we may go home and kick the proverbial dog who was standing in the doorway only waiting to love us. None of these responses are very productive, or Christ-like.
Instead, we can practice the soul-training exercise of surrender. More on that in the next post.