Tag Archives: change

Time for Change

It is amazing how fast time flies!  This weekend, for half of my children, will mark the end of Summer and school vacation.  My daughter will begin her new school year (teaching remotely 443 miles from her 5th grade students) on Monday and my middle son will move into his on-campus apartment for the Fall semester on Wednesday.  Our youngest son has been blessed with an academic reprieve, for his remote learning classes will not resume for another three weeks.

In many ways it seems like forever since David came home – theoretically for his freshman year’s Spring break – on March 5th, since 6th grade classes moved on-line for Joshua beginning March 16th, and since Rebekah’s truncated senior year of college and student teaching moved to remote and she drove home from Washington on March 17th.  As an added blessing, throughout the Spring and Summer we have also seen our oldest son an average of twice a week.  I cannot imagine another season of life when we will have this much shared time together.  But now, the times, they are a-changing.  The passage from August to September, for me this year, will be bitter-sweet.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: […] a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance….   Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 (NIV)

As I contemplate the change of season – meteorological and metaphorical – it causes me to pause and posit what the coming days may bring.  What will be the activity of this new time and season: weeping, laughing, mourning, dancing?  Are the days to be filled with disaster or delight, or some combination of both?  My guess: as it has been over the first 240 days of 2020, it will be for its remaining 126.  There have been and there will be those whose days, like mine, are filled with more laughter than tears and there are those whose days are filled with just the opposite.

Each of us have differing experiences and unique contexts in which we navigate the challenges and charms this life has to offer.  Because of this reality, we must allow empathy, the ability to feel for another without feeling as another, to be our guide when interacting with one another.  We all have grieved a loss (of life, of livelihood or of liberty) at some point this year and we all have needed compassion.  We all have enjoyed a blessing (through nature, through new life, or through neighbors) during this pandemic and we all have appreciated companionship.  Each of us will also continue to shed tears of sorrow and tears of joy in September and beyond, and we all must allow others the space to express themselves, unrestrained, before us.

The coming days, for me, will be tough as we transition from life fully together toward life beginning to move us apart.  The coming days, for you, are likely to be different emotionally.  I am glad we have each other as we rejoice together and as we grieve together.  There is a time for everything, just like the weather in New England.  If you are unhappy with what is occurring around you, just wait a minute with a friend.

Wanting “Less Change”

It all started with a simple exercise during our Sunday School class: write down one thing you think you need but do not have.  My sweet and kind-hearted eleven-year-old boy, in tiny letters on his paper wrote two words which broke my heart – ‘less change’.  Those in the class quickly offered consolation, telling one another that change is inevitable and can lead to positive things.  But for at least one pre-teen, this is all too much: moving to a neighboring town, changing schools, having a life-long roommate go off to college and watching other family members transition to places of their own.  It makes me sad that my son, despite the brave face, is hurting.

Yes, we are moving again.  For those keeping score, this is the 7th time in our thirty year marriage that we are packing boxes and renting trucks.  After 20 years (and 1 month) in Boston, we are moving 2 miles south of the city to Quincy.  [As a side note: if you will be in the Boston area on Friday, August 30th, or Saturday, August 31st, we could use some help.  Contact me.]  For the only time in any of our lives, Jeanine and me included, one of us will be required to change school systems and make new friends and adjust to new paradigms.  I am confident that God will order Joshua’s steps and that he will thrive in this new adventure, but I still worry.  If you pray, would you pray for Josh?

This move has forced Jeanine and I to make necessary, but personally difficult, decisions.  Certainly, we are determining what possessions we are moving, what we are donating and what we are tossing (and for all those Marie Kondo devotees out there, nothing in this process is sparking joy).  But there are other decisions that have been made: we decided that our budget could only afford three bedrooms in our new living situation, and so our three oldest children, over the next month or two, are transitioning to college and beyond.  In this, too, I am confident that God will guide my family into blessings I cannot yet comprehend.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)

It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read the Bible that God uses the process of change to bring about our maturity and development.  Abraham was told to move.  Mary and Joseph were led to relocate.  Peter was commanded to change careers.  It should come as no surprise to any of us that God may lead us in similar ways.  New jobs, new schools and new homes may cause worry in the strongest of hearts, but when we know it is a part of God’s way we can take delight in knowing that whatever comes, He will uphold us.

For all those who feel that they need ‘less change’, hold out hope in knowing that the Lord will be with you on the other side of whatever change you are experiencing.

Changing Tides

If you have been reading this blog throughout the last four years, you know that my family has experienced a great deal of change over that period of time.  It always seemed to me that change was cyclical; I was under the impression that there were seasons of transition and seasons of tranquility.  Through the process of musing about life and ministry on a weekly basis I have come to realize that change is present every moment – we are all continually changing biologically, economically, spiritually, and relationally.  Change is not some terrible thing we endure; change is a sometimes good thing that we can choose to embrace.ocean

While change is constant, it is much like the tides in that there is variety in the intensity of the waves.  My family’s present two and a half weeks are more like conditions for surfing rather than sailing as we watch the whitecaps wash over us.  Last Saturday, we hugged our daughter goodbye at college, knowing that we’d not see her sweet face for more than a month.  Last Tuesday, we hugged Jeanine’s brother goodbye as we drove home to Boston and he drove to chemotherapy in Baltimore.  Next Wednesday, we will place all our worldly possessions in a moving van and the following day unload them a few blocks away.  And finally, on Thursday, September 8, we’ll send David off to tenth grade and Joshua off to third grade.

If I were in charge, I would not have chosen any of these transitions for myself or my family: Rebekah could stay home, Stephen would not suffer from the end stages of cancer (if I made the decision, he’d never have cancer at all), we would have remained in the condo that has been home for the past three years and the boys would never get older.  If I had my way, Rebekah would never make new friends or gain new experiences, Stephen would never know how strong he really is, we’d never impact a different neighborhood and the boys would lie on their beds playing video games all day. You see my point:  I would not choose change, even if it were good for me.

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.  Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)

When we, as a family, go to the beach, the boys and I try to body surf.  As I tell them, the best thing to do is follow two rules:  First, lean into the smaller waves or they will knock you over; and second, jump just before the bigger wave crests and allow it to carry you to the shallows.  In many ways, that is what I am trying to do these days: lean in and then enjoy the ride.  So, I will brace myself when the texts go unanswered, when the diagnosis is pending, when the boxes get heavy and the house is quiet.  I will enjoy the updates that she is making friends, that the drug is working, that the new house brings new opportunities and that I have another three years before another one leaves the nest.

Lord willing, there will be a stretch of smooth sailing for all of us in the days ahead.  Whatever may be lying just beyond the horizon, I trust that God knows how to use it for my growth.  And, oh, what an adventure awaits us with Him.