Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ch- Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes...

“I bought one for everyone,” our team leader said as she approached the first member of our renewal team with her paper bag filled with polished stones. “Each one has a different word etched in it.” Everyone took a turn. A few didn’t like the first words they got, so they exchanged their choices for another, or switched off amongst themselves.

I kept mine. Six years later I still have it. It’s a polished jade stone etched with the word “CHANGE”. At the time I saw it as a reminder to expect change every once in a while. As my life continued on from that renewal, I experienced a wave of life-altering changes, and my stone became my warning. The more I continued to evaluate and re-evaluate my life, it occured to me that, since change was going to happen whether I liked it or not, initiating change is far easier than reacting to it. Suddenly my stone became a directive.

Change is hard…for even me, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. Some of the changes I've experienced were good, some not so good. The way we are created, though, we are not meant to stagnate. Change is necessary to our lives. Human life is in a state of constant change from birth through death. Perhaps that’s why we don’t like to initiate change-- the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality. If we aren’t seeking out opportunities for growth, a different kind of change will come find us, and the results can be devastating. This is true whether we're looking at a specific detail of our individual lives, or those grand issues affecting human development as a whole, or any point in between: friendships, jobs, our health, etc. This includes ministries, too.

How often do you hear "I/we've always done it that way"? If it's simply to see where we've been, that's one thing; but when it becomes conventional wisdom, it is suddenly an excuse to avoid change. We ignore truth and facts, leaving that which we've worked so hard for vulnerable to changes we never saw coming. We should learn our history, but not become history.

If we are to avoid the stench of stagnation in our ministries--or anywhere else for that matter--the continual building of relationships is also vital. If we don't know one another, how can we serve one another? Well-formed relationships with others based on not just our sharing our thoughts, but openly and attentively listening to others and observing them carefully with a heart open to service will increase our capacity to love.

There's that commandment again: "Love one another as I have loved you." It's no coincidence that Jesus' commandment has taken on similar voices as did my CHANGE stone: a reminder, a warning, a directive. Love, after all, requires change of the self. The more we change, the better we love.

Perhaps my CHANGE stone should serve me in the same way as Jesus' commandment now a goal.


janet rubbo said...

very true statements gina...the place where you said about "history" quickly made an old quote jump in to my head that should be a warning for all people...i am not quite sure of the "exact" wording, but it's kinda like "if we do not learn from our past, we are destined to repeat it"....i think this came out of war time (possably hitler's genecide era)......but it is so very true.....history is good to know, remember, learn from, but we must grow from where we were in that history, not just keep replaying it over and over till we "get it right".........experience it, feel it, learn from it, discern on it, move forward toward better because (or, in spite of) of it...................and that is from a person who is to afraid to even "change" my hair color!!! but just because i fear change, does not mean that i cannot see and understand that i must fight that fear of change (and growth) and push forward with Jesus holding my hand for support and good friends for encouragment....thanks for another well written learning and sharing experience....i love you, janet

Gina said...

Janet, as always, you offer wonderful insight and feedback.

Fear of change can paralyze people! We see it all the time. It's so hard for people to step outside the box.

You write: "i must fight that fear of change (and growth) and push forward with Jesus holding my hand for support and good friends for encouragment..." Wow Janet, what a powerful image you've painted for us. We so often forget---it's Jesus calling us to change, to grow, and he's not going to leave us abandoned to do it all by ourselves.

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