I've never been afraid of big change. Big change is fine. Big change means times and dates and checklists and moving boxes and plane tickets that are purchased in order to complete those big changes. Big changes are tangible, even if not yet defined.
It's those little changes that get me. The teeny, tiny barely noticeable, the slow as a sloth movement, that isn't clear. It's the morning you wake up in the mirror and realize that you're forty-one, and it's showing; in that line, just above your left eyebrow and bridge of your nose. In the streaks of grey that don’t really make you look old just yet, but definitely mark you as gone from days of youth. It’s the stuff that's been with you all along, but makes you feel like it just snuck up on you.
I got married. I committed to one person with whom to partner in the big and little changes. That, monumental step I could do. The better part of almost a decade in, and the little change, or the change that hasn't happened, is the change that frustrates and scares me. It's not the house that we haven't bought, or the retirement plan that we're behind on that freaks me out. It's that I'm still learning how to communicate my thoughts without being a jerk, and constantly eff it up. It’s that the socks on the floor drive me bonkers.
I had a baby. A baby who is now almost five. And, hot damn, if you want to know the combination of feelings from big and little change, you start planning a fifth birthday party and register your kid for kindergarten and listen to her thoughts about dinosaurs and outer space. If you want to know instantaneous, enormous change, it's all there. The big, dramatic moment that heralded her existence through birth, produced uncountable moments of small conversations on cartoons and trips to Target and first swim classes. All of these are supposed to be little. They’re huge. They’re really, overwhelmingly gigantic and important. Pre-k graduation will come and go, but my kid practicing her letters and numbers will travel with her forever.
I moved back home. It’s weird. Having lived overseas, and cross-country and back home, the hardest changes back home are seeing your parents and family age, after having been gone for over a decade. Initially it was startling, when I’d visit for a few days. Now, I see it in the everyday conversations and the movements and reality.
I turned forty. Seriously? I don’t know what forty is supposed to feel like, but other than my chicken arms, slightly saggy neck, specks of grey hair and new wrinkles, I totally feel like pre-forty me. OMG. OMG. OMG. But ya. Body change is the most obvious, and it totally comes out of nowhere.
I question faith (and I’m okay with that). It kind of snuck up on me, but has been growing for years. This is not a drastic change for me, but it is for others. This is the stuff that makes people from your former circle uncomfortable. It’s shocking to them. “How did this happen?” “I thought I knew you.” “If you wouldn’t have gone out to the West Coast.” The small moments. The moments where I said, “That doesn’t make sense” in the middle of a sermon or reading a blog or over coffee.
When the sweet tooth calls (which is pretty much daily), I answer with a scoop of Cherry Amaretto Chocolate Chip or Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. What’s your favorite dessert? Treat yourself!
This is totally embarrassing (but I’ll own it), Sting has been one of my favorite musicians since I was in middle school. His music has been with me through the big and small. I go back to some of his oldest work to re-center me. What’s a song or band that you’ve loved through it all?
The mystery of peace, clarity and love. May we always be open to change; big and little alike. May we cherish the process of growth, in hopes of growing our capacity of loving ourselves and others better.
Where are places in your life that you see large and small changes? Have those changes been realized as they were happening? Or after the fact? How did those changes make you feel? Do you prefer big, fast changes to smaller but slower changes?