November 10, 2017

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Change is inevitable, and that can be a good thing

Cynthia DewesWe all hate change. Especially as we age, we’re notorious for wanting things to stay the same. We rant about new rules created by the demands of trendy political correctness. Or we despair trying to keep track of the names of African countries.

That’s because keeping everything the same is so comfortable. It makes us feel secure and in control of the situation. It helps us to feel as smart as the next guy without fear of being dismissed or judged poorly. We’re lulled into thinking that we’re better spouses or parents or workers because we know what to expect.

While this is partially true, it’s also true that change is inevitable. God has worked change into every part of our existence. We grow in physical age and ability, in knowledge and in responsibility, and we decline in the same way. The seasons of Earth’s weather change from winter to summer and back again, and we learn to adjust to them. And our physical location may change considerably over time.

We start out as blank slates, more or less. We have certain inherited qualities, but we are largely bombarded with information, instruction and guidance to become a child, a teen, and finally, hopefully, an adult. We go from being a student to being a graduate, or from apprenticeship to a full-time job. We proceed from being supported financially to making our own living, and from being a citizen to a being a citizen who can vote.

We begin as children whose job is to listen to their parents and obey while being loved and nurtured. Eventually we’re expected to perform tasks, to learn and to grow into adulthood. Along the way, we learn how to relate to our parents, to other authority figures, our siblings and extended family members, neighbors and people in our communities.

We also grow in our faith, from singing “Jesus loves me” to understanding what that means. We learn to forgive as we are forgiven and to love as we are loved. We learn who “the other” is, and how we relate to him or her. We learn to pray, to talk to God and, most of all, to listen to the words he places in our hearts.

At least that’s the plan, right? But changing in all these good ways takes a lot of determination and grunt work.

For example, choosing the correct vocation in life can be hard. One young man I knew who felt drawn to religious life finally realized that his life must include a wife and children. But he passed on the values of religious life to them, earning for him the best of both vocations. Another friend, who became a priest largely because his mother urged him to, later found it was not really his calling. It took courage, but he left the priesthood and married. Today, he serves others as an advocate for disadvantaged youths.

Of course, it is possible to change for the worst. That old free will thing again. Sometimes we make a bad decision which leads down a destructive path. We can cheat here and there on the job, or keep an adulterous relationship going because it seems too hard to change back. Or maybe we fear the consequences of changing to a desirable result.

Like everything worthwhile in life, changing for the best takes work and determination. Luckily, God loves us and God never changes.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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