“I have a great quote for you!” It was my friend Judy—the first thing she said to me when we met on a retreat this weekend.
“Let me have it.” I said.
“Change is inevitable,” Judy said, “growth is optional.”
I nodded and we both smiled.
I saw a tee shirt once that said, “Change is good. You go first.”
Change is the only constant. It’s happening every moment. The things we love are being taken away. We had life all arranged; now it’s coming undone. The things we thought were bolted down solid have come loose. We don’t like change, even when it disrupts the unhappiness in our lives, because at least we were used to it.
I have been reading in Exodus about the people of Israel escaping from abject slavery in Egypt. The day after God miraculously delivers them they start complaining. “Why did you take us out in the desert,” they say to God, “just so we could die of starvation? We miss the leeks and garlic of Egypt!”
Freedom is a great big change, and they’re not really liking it.
We begin to grow as we begin to accept change—and trust that God is in it. If we can trust that God is out in front of us, preparing the way (even though we cannot see either God or the way!), then we can accept the changes and chances of this life and know that everything will be all right.
Thomas Merton prayed it this way:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” (from Thoughts in Solitude)