The Challenge and Promise of Change
By: Susan K. Rowland
Researchers report that the more we welcome change into our lives, the healthier our brains remain and the younger we feel. That's not surprising. Enthusiasm about new things is a characteristic of the young and the young-at-heart. So we're encouraged to take up a new hobby, learn a language, take a class, travel-anything to keep those brain cells active. New activities challenge us and keep us alert and open to life.
How do you feel about change? Do you resist, especially when change involves old and dear rituals, customs and practices? Sometimes we love change. Sometimes we don't. But whether it's welcome and expected, or sudden and unasked-for, change is a reality of life. In fact, it's the one thing we can count on.
We might adopt either of two extreme attitudes about change. One is a demand for constant change and novelty. The other is the rejection of change-the settling in and stagnation that refuse all challenges and insist that things stay the way they are. The first-the demand for novelty-is often seen in young people. As life goes on, we may resist change and try to hold on to what's familiar. We might even become angry when changes are forced upon us.
These different reactions to change are natural-but not solely defined by one's age or life experience. Young people, just starting out in the world, are often curious and open to new challenges. It helps for them to be enamored of change, for they're going through the biggest changes of their lives. But later in life, many people are attracted to stability, not change.
Many of the changes we experience as we age are not all that welcome. Where did those wrinkles come from? Why don't I have the energy I used to have? Why do I have these health problems? What is my purpose in life now that my kids are grown and I'm retired? It's no wonder we wish we could stop the clock and settle into a comfortable place in life where there are no unpleasant changes.
God and change
Author Matthew Kelly writes: "Change is one of the laws of the natural universe. Nature teaches us that everything in this world is constantly changing. Everything God created is constantly in the process of either growing or dying." Still, Kelly writes, there are certain things that never change: "Truth does not change; the supernatural realities of faith, hope, and love do not change; and God does not change" (Rediscover Catholicism).
Change is essential to life. Our physical bodies are in a constant state of repair and renewal. Our minds need to be challenged to stay healthy. And our spiritual journeys are characterized by conversion and growth.
Change is so essential, but too much change can result in chaos. We won't grow properly or deepen our commitments if we rush from one thing to another. So God has built into us both a desire for change and a desire for stability and regularity. Thus our lives swing between change and sameness. Nature gives us distinct seasons. Each in its turn feels new and refreshing, yet each season is the same, year after year