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Making peace with change: What a grace this gentle realization was

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Fr. Alex Kirby Lancon - published on 09/05/23

I realized that I don’t have to choose between a good past and an uncertain future. The blessings of old are not expired. Change provides a new place for God to keep his promises, to fill my empty hand with new treasures.

Change is a sworn enemy of mine. At least taxes and dentist appointments have anchored into my predictable schedule. They’re out in the open and accounted for. I can see them on the horizon. They play by the rules, and I’ve made peace with them. 

But change is different. It’s fickle, temperamental, unsteady. It has a knack for weaseling its way into the happiest, fullest, most “big picture” seasons of my life and wreaking havoc. Just when things start to mature — friendships, a sense of security, my standing within a community — change swoops in and replaces my solid ground with quicksand. Whether I like it or not it’s time to start over. Change never asks my opinion. 

I thought I was ready for this latest change. Think again. Within days of my newest assignment, a familiar movie with all the highlights from memory lane flickered across my mind. The greatest hits from yesterday on a loop: the best times with the best people doing the most memory-worthy things. To be sure, the new life before me was good, even ideal. Yet my heart could not be given to the present. I was in love with the past. 

I should be used to this by now. The tears at the base of my locker on my last day of high school say it all. High school was a known and vetted love of mine. I worked hard to build a life there and could count on what it offered. College had no such guarantee. My first months at LSU were spent musing on old memories of the “good ole days.”

Yet these same college years — once dreaded — now dominated my thoughts when I started the next phase with all the great times and people that were left behind there.

You get the picture. With each new phase of my life I tend to look back on what was with a sigh, not because it was bad but because it was oh-so-good. Here’s the cycle: I mourn the loss of my former love only to fall in love all over again with the new life before me. Yesterday’s dread is tomorrow’s sweetheart. 

My temptation is to think that God’s best work was for yesterday. Tomorrow can’t be better. My rear view mirror will always have a nicer view than the front dash. I penalize the present because it simply isn’t what was.

Something changed with my latest transition. In the midst of my most recent memory loop I received a light, a light of gratitude. Unexpectedly, I saw these same memories of old not with a sigh of sadness but in thanksgiving for the blessings they were and still are. What a grace! I realized that I don’t have to choose between a good past and an uncertain future. The blessings of old are not expired. Rather, they are a testament to the ever-unfolding generosity of a God who works in fullness. My God is not the God of high school or college or post-college. He is God of the galaxies and every crevice in between. 

Our memories are often our version of a past reality. Instead of loving the real people, places, and circumstances of our current life, we can instead fall in love with this subjective version of the past, often a romanticized one that never actually existed. Instead, I now challenge myself to see memories as the treasury of God’s grace. One hand is full of these gems of generosity while the other is left empty in anticipation for the goodness to come. 

Let me be upfront: I still don’t like change. For all I said, I still find transitions difficult. However, I now try to see change as an opportunity for God to expand into a new area of my life that he has yet to penetrate. Change provides a new place for God to keep his promises, to fill my empty hand with new treasures. Change may never be my best friend, but at least it’s no longer my enemy. 

~

This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

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