Metanoia: (n.) the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self or way of life.
Change is an inevitable fact of life. Change can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. You get $50 in the mail from an unexpected source, and the next day you have to buy a new tire for your car. Luck? Happenstance? Or is Sovereign God in control of all things? Whatever philosophy you subscribe to, you have to know that everything happens for a reason. Maybe you’re the sort of person who only sees the good in the unforeseen $50 windfall, yet you’re angered by the fact that you immediately have to spend it on something so mundane as a tire; or maybe you’re the type who is comforted to know that when something unexpectedly goes wrong, Someone is looking out for you to make sure your need is met.
I admit, I tend to be the first guy—the one who gets super excited at a surprise gift and then kicks the ground the minute something goes wrong to steal the prize out of my hand. Not a very flattering thing to admit, but I’m all about living an authentic and transparent life these days, so…there you go. Judge away.
Yes, changes happen in this life. Some are planned and expected, like seeing retirement coming down the road and beginning to save accordingly. Others, as hard as we resist them, come in like a fastball to the noggin. They forever change the way you experience life on this planet. When my father passed away last year, I wasn’t prepared, not even a little bit. One day we were talking in the hospital about the Super Bowl, and then the next, he was gone. It hurt. I couldn’t wrap my finite mind around what had happened. How did he go so swiftly from me? How did I not see it coming? How could I continue to live my life with this unfathomable deficit in my heart? Had I loved him too much? Attached too much value to my relationship with him?
And my mother, who’d never known another man in her 85 years, was suddenly and without warning alone; left to figure things out day to day without her life partner. Watching her go through the changes left in the wake of his death were almost as difficult as losing him. Sleeping alone, eating alone, managing her finances, medications, and the simple task of getting to and from anywhere had become a daunting exercise.
Sure, family is there to pick up the slack and make things as “normal” as possible, but it will never be the same as it was. It’s not supposed to be. The “till death do us part” makes everything before it (in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, etc.) seem insignificant in comparison. The living must continue to live and create a “new normal.” I hate that terminology, by the way. It’s a clever way of saying, time to suck it up, put on your big girl panties and face the mountain of changes coming your way, honey. No one is going to do it for you. It’s up to you if you’re going to survive this. Maybe that’s why obituaries always call those left behind “survivors”. It’s a fight to the death, no doubt.
This week we helped my mother make the decision to leave her home and move into an assisted living facility closer to where her three daughters live. It will mean more changes—BIG ones. Changes that will shape her in a way she never thought possible. Changes that will stretch her faith, bruise her already fragile heart, and cause her to question some deeply held beliefs. Prayers for her are so appreciated. She’s a strong woman, but even the most resilient person has vulnerable places in their heart where they wonder if they can make it through the next wave of changes.
Change can be good. Even open-heart surgery has its benefits, but boy, does it hurt like a son of a gun. I mean, this is no flat tire situation. This is life; an ever-evolving, constantly shifting experience. “Sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the years…one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”