Change is often perceived as negative and oh. so. hard! What once was, now looks different. Routines have shifted or the people around us have left and our circle—our sphere of influence—looks different. The list goes on.
Constant change is the one constant in life on earth. All aspects of life are continuously shifting because we are embodied souls in aging bodies. Therefore, we must learn to welcome change to find the possibilities that lie within.
The hinge of change
I’m intrigued with change and the hinge-ness of it. The hinge is a moveable joint, the mechanism on a structure that allows movement from what was to what will be. The hinge is that middle movement piece that allows us to close one door or gate and enter another room, pasture, chapter, season, etc.
What happens if we allow ourselves to hold a holy curiosity to the hinges in our lives where change is taking place?
Too often we rush to the next thing. Too often we hold too tightly to the last thing. What happens if we learn to be present in the middle space? What happens if we allow ourselves to hold a holy curiosity to the hinges in our lives where change is taking place?
Our holy hinges are those liminal spaces where a forced pause is upon us. We receive the grace of God to pause, to name what we are feeling, to honor what was and perhaps, often, to grieve. But to also dream, anticipate and desire. Mostly though, our holy hinges allow time to rest, draw near to our Savior and be in the presence of the Trinity.
Change can be dramatic, as seen in the caterpillar’s transformation to the butterfly. The hinge in this visual is the cocoon—that space of letting go of what was, to reaching for what will be, to surrendering to the rest in God’s protective care and provisions as we go through a change season. It’s hard work, no denying that. Change can be a lonely experience.
God with us
Deep wonderment or a holy curiosity allows for a grace-filled space to open in our lives during seasons of change. One that will allow us to be increasingly more present to ourselves, to God, to others around us.
My invitation is to be filled with wondering as we practice the presence of God. Use our God-given imaginations to picture Jesus with us at the table, in the car, standing alongside us in our lives. Jesus with us in our pain and grieving. Jesus with us in our celebrating and delighting. Jesus with us in our pauses. Jesus with us in our rest. Jesus with us in our changes.
Further, there is an invitation to use our imagination to place ourselves in the Gospel stories. To have wonder at Jesus’ life and connect deeply to the Spirit as we enter into Jesus’ journey. Look for how Jesus handles change. Where does Jesus practice letting go? Where does Jesus embrace what is ahead in life? Where does Jesus rest in the sacred pauses of change?
Sometimes, and quite often at that, different areas of change happen all at once. Change seasons can be dramatic, traumatic, ecstatic, iconic. Deeper awareness allows us to see we can’t separate out the event of change from the change happening within us through change itself. Change is a both/and event and should be seen as such if we are really going to thrive in the shift and grow forward.
Adapt and flex
Through my own life experiences, I’ve named lots of changes and I’m realizing I will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Why aren’t we taught that in school? So we do need to talk about change and how to navigate that shift from what was to what is and the pause or hinge-space in the middle. And to really have a curious wonder to discovery of God’s presence in all of it.
Cancer patients are often told they are brave. People going through adversity and changes are told they are brave or to stay strong. That was a distinct and interesting season of my cancer story. I was hesitant and resistant to it. I had no choice but to be present to myself and to give my body over to medical treatment. I felt like to be brave, I had to make a choice to be brave. Over time I’ve come to understand that simply showing up is a brave act. Taking one breath or step at a time is a brave act when facing change.
These days I have a holy wonderment and curiosity about the word resilient. The American Psychological Association describes being resilient as, “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.” The words adapting and flexibility shimmer for me in that definition. How might we find our inner adaptability and flexibility in our change seasons? Finding our ability to bounce back and resume life rhythms?
Likewise, a couple of years ago I started hearing the phrase post-traumatic growth, and once again, a holy wonderment caught my attention. Post-traumatic growth refers to a theory of transformation following trauma in which people not only bounce back but have a renewed sense of identity and understanding of who they are, how they interact with others and appreciation for a life well lived. Sounds like what God is all about, doesn’t it?
Scripture is filled with verses on change, transformation, renewal, rebirth and repairing ruptures. Some of my favorite passages of Scripture are found between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. The transformation that we witness in these stories speak of deep healing and growth in seasons of drastic and overwhelming change.
I’m often amazed at what God allows for humankind to discover. When passages like Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will,” and Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” were penned in Scripture, I imagine God anticipating when our discoveries would catch up to what God has already written and created.
What we are learning regarding neuroscience speaks to the renewal of our minds. Neuroplasticity refers to our brain’s adaptability and ability to reorganize our neural networks, and these structural changes allow for growth and healing restructuring. Nothing is completely lost and stagnant. There is hope in the middle of change that allows us to be resilient and to grow.
Therefore, change will continue to be oh. so. difficult at times. And at other times, it will be exhilarating. Regardless, something is shifting in life. What once was, is gone. What will be, is yet to unfold. And what is can be seen as a beautiful sacred hinge space of discovering who we are in our change seasons.
Chandelle Claassen is a certified professional life coach, a member of the USMB LEAD Coaching team and has led several LEAD Cohorts. She is a trained spiritual director through The Schools of Sustainable Faith. She lives in North Newton, Kansas, with her husband, Russ, who is the youth pastor at Koerner Heights Church and also the Southern District Conference youth minister. They have two boys and enjoy being an active family in their community.