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Seeking Openness in the Face of Change

The Lord is my rock,
my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock,
in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and
the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold.

(Psalm 18:2)

September brings new beginnings with school and a new program year. Routines change. Some parents become empty nesters, while some children experience school for the first time. Change can cause excitement, fear, and anxiety all at once.

In the midst of all the emotions change brings, it’s a wonder that we so often view change as bad — as something that is done to us, rather than an opportunity for growth. Why is it that when faced with the possibility of growth we feel intimidated or stuck?

I was invited to walk with a congregation struggling with declining worship numbers. Their denominational identity had been in flux, which led to tension and ultimately apathy. After first learning about the history of this congregation, I partnered with leadership to gather the thoughts, desires, and hopes of members of the congregation. Unfortunately, once we laid out the next steps, all follow-up conversations grew silent. The agreed-upon steps, though exciting at first, would mean change — change they weren’t prepared to make.

Through our coaching relationship, my questions allowed the congregation to see themselves more clearly. The reflection they saw in the mirror caused them to re-engage with their fear and become paralyzed. Like the fear that overcame Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, when they found the tomb of Jesus empty. They fled saying nothing to anyone, because they were afraid. Fear of the unknown, or change, can paralyze us.

Change takes us out of our comfort zone, making us feel off center. We like to believe we are capable of influencing everything that happens to us, and by choosing to resist change we feel a false sense of control. Because at least we know what we have now! We forget the wisdom of Lao Tzu, “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them — that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

As the fall ushers in change, lean on the rock that is our fortress, our refuge, our salvation, and our stronghold. Be open to the growth, learning, evolving, and transformation that change invites.

P.S. Change can mean many things to different people, whether that’s rethinking an old habit or making a new commitment. This fall, I’m embracing a new beginning as a Seasonal Wellness Nurse providing flu shots throughout the Minneapolis community. Even though I’ve given immunizations to folks of all ages over many years, I pray for God’s strength to calm my anxieties as I go into this change. I look forward to the opportunity to grow and learn as I strengthen the health of others. And I encourage you and your loved ones to stay current on your immunizations!

Deacon Tammy L. Devine

Tammy shares her passion for health, healing, and wholeness through consulting, coaching, and retreat facilitation. As an ELCA deacon, registered nurse, parish nurse/coordinator, and ICF certified coach, she collaborates with thought leaders to facilitate personal and communal growth toward living and leading well. Contact her to learn more.

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