Glamorous are those times in life when we can make something specific happen. We look at a situation, know what must be done for a solution to occur, and then we carry out the plan of action. The sense of having a cause and a purpose is exciting. And the effect of imposing our will is truly exhilarating, maybe addictive. We have saved the day. We were needed and we rose to the occasion. Had we not been there something very bad may have happened, but we were there and our actions made the difference.
There are times like that in life. Sometimes they involve small things like protecting and raising children. Sometimes the matters seem much bigger as institutions or groups of people are affected by our plans or actions. But when one really gets down to it, how many times in life do situations like that actually happen?
Most of life has to do with something very different. Rather than individuals rising up over situations, usually it is situations rolling over individuals. Rather than some one person affecting change, usually it is change affecting us. Rather than us bending the rest of the world, usually it is the world bending us.
We might want to change the world. But more often we experience the world changing us. Most everything that our Savior teaches us has to do with accepting change rather than affecting change. He calls us to surrender, to follow, to accept, to give away, to turn the other cheek, to suffer, to die, to trust, to undergo, and to be raised to a new life.
I might have some grandiose visions of my life where I am to fight the good fight and be the victor. And though few, there are times to fight. But the spiritual life, Jesus would say, is not so much a fight as it is a journey. I don’t defeat the world; I follow my Lord and allow him to carry me through this world.
There’s even the realization in this earthly pilgrimage that the more I seek to change someone or something, the more I make change impossible. The more I fight against something, the more entrenched it becomes. Accepting things as they are is the key to allowing them to change. And accepting change in my own life is a more effective spiritual growth tool than fighting against change.
On this subject I find two truths in my own life: 1) I resist change and am threatened by it; 2) most every change that life has brought me has been good. I see something different coming and I dig in my heels, imagine the very worst outcome, get anxious and frantic. Then the change comes and readjusts my life. And in time the change makes life better. It makes more sense that I would come to embrace change as a good and positive spirit in the world, but I tend to approach it more as an evil force. I struggle against it and, only through that struggle, come to see the goodness that makes all things well.
With change in life, I’ve heard the analogy of canoeing through rapids. Paddling against it is fruitless. Allowing the current to carry me works better. Yielding is better than resisting. Learning to recognize the current and paddling toward the flow makes it all go easier and can even become great fun. The difference between terror and sport might just be a matter of attitude. Change can be maddening. Or it can be joyous.
What change might life be bringing you these days? Are you resisting that as something which threatens you and your security? Might you learn to embrace that change as a good part of God’s spirit in the world? Might you surrender and trust and go with the change? God is good. All of life is in his hands. This – whatever “this” is for you – is temporary. It must be changed. And it will be for the best. Such is the nature of God’s grace.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.
We pray for one who has died, Eugenia Shanbacher, sister of Kitty Coleman. Rest eternal grant to her, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon her.