2017 is finally seeing the end of the road. In the words of my good friend Scott Mitchell…”Whether we failed or succeeded…or failed a bunch, this is how we sigh it out, sort it out, and send it away.”
Ready or not, here it comes …a new year …a new beginning. We can’t help ourselves. We sift through the memories, hold on to many and hope to goodness we don’t repeat others. We long for some things to change. We cling to a hope that a new day will bring new joys and dreams fulfilled…a fresh start …a new beginning.
But these words from Richard Rohr brought a new perspective to that new beginning …
“The word change normally refers to new beginnings. But transformation more often happens not when something new begins but when something old falls apart. The pain of something old falling apart—disruption and chaos—invites the soul to listen at a deeper level. It invites and sometimes forces the soul to go to a new place because the old place is not working anymore. “
I found myself looking at a picture of our family from 17 years ago…
This was the family structure I held on to for dear life. My husband …the love of my life. Our four children with all their hopes and dreams and unique personalities. Familiar. Life that had become the norm for over 20 years.
Then it happened …almost as if someone began to pluck them from the nest one by one. That book worm in the middle in the white sweater? Well, she would go on to marry a terrific guy and have three little ones of her own and ultimately write her own book. That taller one on the far right who always had weather gadgets tacked up outside and inside the house? He would go on to be a meteorologist with the National Weather Service and become a great husband and loving daddy to his three littles. That little blonde-headed girl standing next to me? She’s a passionate soul who deeply loves others –especially her husband and sweet little boy. Oh, and she eventually turned her child-hood crayons and washable markers in for charcoal and acrylic and became an amazing artist of real life. And that little guy in the red shirt in the middle with that big smile across his face? He became the adventurous one and left the nest to fly all over the world– experiencing the beauty of life and people from many different cultures. He went from writing and singing little songs in our living room to creating and publishing amazing, soulful music all over the internet.
Had life stayed the same, none of that would have happened. Had I held on too tightly, individual purpose and creativity would have been strangled. The possibility of transformation frozen in time. I loved my littles and the life we had all together during the years spanning from 1985-2012. We obviously had our share of pain and sorrow and It wasn’t always picture perfect but it was us and it was good.
But good change involves letting go. That’s the hard part. I know the now of things. I function well there– not always because it’s best but because it’s familiar. It’s understood chaos. Routine. The problem is, it’s hard to squint into the sunshine and see beyond the now to what can be. Letting go means losing control and I weirdly want to be in control — even though, ironically, I often don’t want to be responsible for the outcome.
Richard Rohr goes on to say, “Transformation usually includes a disconcerting reorientation. …Spiritual transformation is an active process of letting go, living in the confusing dark space for awhile, and allowing yourself to be spit up on a new and unexpected shore.”
I don’t always like change but I sure don’t want to stay the same. I don’t want to hang onto the old way of doing and thinking to the neglect of taking hold of that incredibly full life God intended for me to live. As Rohr reminds us, something has to fall apart.
If the old has been shrink wrapped, all the life-giving oxygen has been sucked right out of it. New life can’t grow there.
Yes, we absolutely hold on to the ancient paths from God’s hand that are Life and Truth but He longs to show us even more …to open a window into a future where’s He’s already gone and prepared the way …new mercies …fresh perspectives …new seasons and opportunities to experience His love and share that love with others.
The analogy of being “spit up on a new and unexpected shore” isn’t very appealing to me but the seaweed I’ve been tangled up in is no picnic either. I think I’ll take the open shore and see where God leads me. Ahhh…and I can imagine He’s the kind of Father that builds a fire and is waiting and ready for me.
May 2018 be a “the best is yet to come” New Year for you and may we step out on that “new and unexpected shore” to see more of the adventure God has prepared for us. It’s coming whether we like it or not. We might as well enjoy the ride and see all we can.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Daily prompt: Finally
Scott Mitchell –from his blog post, “Before You Toast the New Year” at pasturescott.org