Faith & Values
I attended a simple, but lovely, June wedding last week. The groom looked dashing in his smartly cut suit; the bride was beautiful in her lace-overlay dress and filmy, pearl-edged veil. The sparkle in both their eyes only added to the air of celebration among the guests who had gathered for the nuptials.
As the happy couple pledged vows of fidelity and declared their love, there were more than a few moist eyes among those watching, mine included. One thing was certain — their lives would change significantly after this day.
Change. We humans have a love-hate relationship with that word and what it stands for. On one hand, it carries the promise of progress and adds variety — even adventure — to daily life. The hope of what might be different tomorrow stirs excitement and sparks creativity today.
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On the other hand, change threatens us with disruption, raises the very real possibility of loss and is often accompanied by the discomfort of the unfamiliar.
This constant state of flux we call change is always messing with us, either raising our expectations or jostling us out of our just-to-fit comfort zones. And, from my perspective, change comes in at least three flavors.
The first variety is change that happens to us. At times, we welcome these “to us” changes … like that unexpected job promotion or the friend’s letter of encouragement nudging us from self-doubt to confidence.
Other changes, though, we’d just as soon do without. Gradually our hair begins to gray, teasing us with just a sprinkling of “highlights” around the temples, at first. Each year we notice a few more lines and those extra wrinkles that no miracle-skin cream can delay forever. (I speak from experience.) Eventually, we forget to wince when we pull the AARP magazine out of the mailbox.
Then there are moments when we experience change in an instant — like the kind accompanying the jarring phone call I got several years ago from a stranger who told me he’d kidnapped my teenage daughter. He was lying, but I didn’t know it at the time.
Until I could verify she was at her high school where I’d dropped her off that morning, I could barely breathe. On an ordinary day, the sense of safety and security I’d experienced for decades was gone in mere minutes with this man’s evil prank. Changes, both good and bad, happen to us on a regular basis.
The next flavor of change is the kind that happens in spite of us. The stock market rises and falls. The news brings stories of changing weather and a changing global-political landscape. And just when we’ve almost mastered one version of technology, here comes the newest version with more and more changes (sigh!) to figure out — in spite of us.
Without our say-so, our kids leave behind the days of book-filled backpacks, forgotten homework assignments and the gleeful first days of long summer vacations. Before we can take it all in, they’ve graduated from high school, then college. The next thing we know they’ve decided to take that job on the East Coast. We smile, cheer them on and pray for blessings on their future, in spite of the tears in our eyes and the empty places in our hearts.
The last variety of change is the kind that happens because of us. I’m inspired by the people who don’t just gripe about all the changes around them; they initiate change — the good kind — and make the world a better place.
They adopt forgotten kids from Uganda (like my friends Derek and Tiffany) and work in the poorest sections of L.A. (like my daughter, Jana, who recently volunteered with her church group at the Dream Center). They run 5Ks to raise money to fight cancer. They climb mountains to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking (like the Climb for Captives group).
They get up each day and love their kids and show kindness to those in their neighborhoods. They write songs that make us smile and books that make us think. They paint pictures that touch the places in us that long for beauty. They teach Sunday school and preach sermons about God’s unchanging love in an ever-changing world. They remind us that because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), we don’t have to live in fear of change. They challenge us to put our trust in God and to become life-changers ourselves.
And speaking of not fearing change — the newlywed couple I mentioned earlier? That was my 81-year-old mother and her 88-year-old bridegroom. Both were widowed after more than 60 years of marriage to their first spouses. But when they met and fell in love at a local veterans’ group luncheon, they decided to tie the knot, even though they knew it would bring a heap of change.
Just goes to show: Love is still the biggest changer of all, at any age.
Jodi Detrick is a minister with the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God). She is also a public speaker, an author and a life coach. Readers may send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org