Sunday, March 19, 2017

Relish in building the new

I'm listening to the March winds doing battle with my house right now. Despite the shining sun, the winds are racing. The winds' moans sound ominous, and in spite of strong roof, walls and windows, I feel vulnerable and anxious - and I'm longing for the wind to transition to the gentle breezes that will carry the first real warmth of spring.

My anxiousness isn't the wind's fault, but it's a metaphor for a place I'm at right now. News and social media feeds give me a daily dose of local, national and world angst. Professional transitions are keeping me hopping, and even the stuff that brings me joy to work on is feeling like a chore. I often feel like I'm standing outside and standing directly in the face the wind that's blowing so relentlessly - exhausting me as I try to stand up to it and keep it from tearing me to shreds.

I'm reading a book by Shauna Niequist where she describes catching herself praying much in the way you order breakfast: this is what I want. I'm not interested in being shaped in significant ways, I want things to be easier. I want the waiting to be over. I want the angst to end. She says - and this is so great and so true: "I couldn't make peace with uncertainty - but there's nothing in the biblical narrative that tells us certainty is part of the deal."

We're early enough in the season of Lent in the Christian calendar to know that the journey to the promise Easter brings is pretty long. We're plodding along in our individual wildernesses where we are exhausted standing against raging winds and long for remembered days of certainty and clear direction.

But I stopped fighting long enough to pay attention this week.

Tom's dad died eight years ago. His dad fervently loved his wife and his family and his life and he was taken from all of them far too early. Tom misses his dad every day, but honors his memory by living the values that he was so intentionally taught.

The anniversary of his dad's death is hard for him and his family, but this year, the tone was different. Tom posted on Facebook Friday morning that though his world changed when his father is no longer in it, he is making peace with the change. "The secret to change is not spending all your time and energy into fighting the old, but instead, relish in building the new ... I surely have moments where I am mad, I am sad, and I just want to fight change and go back to the way it was. But I will not let it define me. Both of my parents taught me better than that." He went on to say that instead of longing for the days when his dad was with him that he would continue to celebrate his dad in the way he lives his life each day forward.

Everyone needs a Tom in their life, and I'm so fortunate to have one in mine.

I realized this week that I have been expecting change in my life to be guided by some sort of cosmic Siri - one that will notify me when a turn is coming up and recalibrate if I miss something. What I realized by reading what Tom had to say is that sometimes, life serves up wrong turns because that's where the really interesting stuff tends to happen - even if we don't know about it at the time.

I'm realizing change needs to start with me and what I'm willing to experience in order to recalibrate my journey in a way that's useful.

I'm taking a page from Tom's book and thinking about rather than turning into the relentless wind, maybe it's time to turn my back to it. I can still feel it and it's still shaping me, but rather than blowing me over, it's moving me forward. It's giving me energy so I can see the happy, see the hope, see the opportunity that always springs forth from the stuff I think is icky - if I'm willing to look hard enough.

If you're anxious, if you are weary, if you are exhausted, or if any of this is resonating, think about turning your back to the wind. It's a brave thing to do. You may not know where it's carrying you, but that's where it's doing the stuff that's really interesting. Let it do its work.

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