By the grace of God, things change.
The question then becomes man's: what are we to do with the changes?
Some of us are analyzers, and I have to admit this is my initial default. We spend our time trying to figure out what exactly has changed, what ripple effects that change is creating in our lives, what that might mean for this story or that one that we've been telling. We dive down into the nitty-gritty in the hope of understanding. It makes the whole thing feel more holy by emphasizing the great distance between what was and what now is. The problem, at least for me, is that this constant analysis negates the change.
I end up thinking more about the way things were, astounded by the depth I didn't even realize in the story while I was living it, and trying to figure out what all that means. Which leaves me analyzing at the cost of living. I forget to live because I'm stuck in the meta-narrative of my story. The story about my story! I imagine if you talk with a handful of analyzers, you will find the same sentiment. It's how we get such lines as, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." Because focused on the change, we find ourselves looking at the same things we've seen for years and the change doesn't seem all that real any more.
Some of us aren't analyzers; some of us are amnesiacs. We remember the change for a certain time, but the novelty wears off and we forget that anything is different. We wake up in the mornings and live like nothing's changed. By the time we realize we've forgotten, the change isn't even real any more and we're waiting on things to change again. We open our eyes and realize things changed and we missed it, and now, we feel stuck right where we are. Even though the change is still out there for the taking. I'm guilty of this, too.
Some of us are neither analyzers nor amnesiacs; we are anticipators. We acknowledge what looks like change, but we're waiting for the other shoe to drop. We're waiting on this world to negate itself. We know - perhaps from pattern, perhaps from fear - that good things are just too good to be true and bad things can never be the end of the story, so good or bad, we're waiting on the flux that will bring us back the other direction and...leave us right where we were to begin with. I've been here, too.
There are so many ways we react to change, ways we respond to a change in circumstances. The trouble is that almost all of them pull us away from the very change we wish to embrace. They pull us back from what's developing in our lives. We waste our time trying to understand, not paying attention, and hesitating that we miss the grace entirely. But if you ask any one of us, we'd tell you what we know about grace -
That it can't be understood. That it can so easily be missed. That it makes no room for hesitation. Grace is, or it isn't. By the grace of God, things change and most of us are missing that grace for all our flesh.
The only way things truly change is when we step into grace. When we embrace the change for what it is, however small or large, whatever it does or does not touch in a particular moment in our lives. It's hard. We give up so much for grace; it feels like a trade-down. But it's really a rise up if we'll let it be.
Here's what change by grace is: it's a chance to change your story. It's a chance to start telling something new, something that most of us have probably always wanted to tell. When we get stuck in our strategies, what we're really doing is holding onto the former and refusing to step into the grace. We're trying to move forward with one hand on our past, and that never works. Because for most of us, the past is firmly rooted in fact and the future only hanging on a timid hope and if one of those seems to have a stronger foundation, which do you think it is?
I'm an analyzer. At times, I am an amnesiac. I've been know to be an anticipator and a host of other things. In the past 24 hours, by the grace of God, my life has changed. My story is changing. I have the chance right now to step into something new and start living it. I've spent the past 23 hours analyzing. About 10-15 minutes this morning, just after waking up, forgetting. And a brief blink of the eye wondering if I should anticipate the flux. (Thank God, I am no longer an "other shoe" kind of person, but that's a pattern hard to break.) I've wondered how I'm ever going to embrace this opportunity to tell another story. I've wondered how to hold on to change in my life, which is why I share all this inner thought with you.
The answer, I believe, is this. It's to be an adventurer.
To just step boldly into today, into a different today, and to live however today demands that I live. Not today in light of yesterday. Not today in hopes of tomorrow. Just today. Just the story I'm telling right now. Without thought to how I told it last night, last week, last month. Without trying to figure it all out. Without trying to understand.
Because we all know the truth, right? Grace can never be understood. If it could, we couldn't call it grace.
So that's my advice this morning, as we all face the possibility of life changing. As we all have these moments where we can step into a new story. As we all wonder what we're supposed to do with times like these. Stop analyzing. Stop forgetting. Stop forsaking. Stop whatever it is you're doing that keeps you from wholly having this holy moment.
Step into the adventure and take today for what it is. Give today what it requires. Love today for all it's worth. And live...today.