I want to change my life, I think this December.
Each Sunday this month, as I prepare to preach, the Christian lectionary* has given me a scripture reading about change. The message that it drives home is this: Prepare for Christmas by changing your life.
Yet, I am still stuck on this question:
How do we change our lives?
There’s something cheap about the transformations that the world offers. It tells us that alterations are available to anyone who can afford them. You just need to pay for this book, this program, or this video. Few people teach us about what growth really requires, which is loss. When we grow emotionally, we have to give something up whether it’s an expectation that we had, the way we do something, or our own ego.
It’s easy to point out growth spots in others. It’s harder to admit growth spots in ourselves. How come people don’t talk more about how challenging change-work is? Sometimes it downright stinks. However, I keep at it, because I find it worthwhile. When I release the unconscious patterns that clog up my life with alienation, selfishness, and reactivity, I start to grab onto conscious patterns that fill me up to the tippy top of my being. I start to have relationships that flourish; I linger on walks that satisfy me; I repair relationships that have suffered; I savor intentional acts that give my life meaning.
There’s a gift that awaits us this season. It’s whispered by the trees that have already released their leaves. It’s repeated by the roses who have been put to bed for the winter.
There’s a secret about growth that the earth conveys.
Inspired by the roses, I preached on them, and change, in a sermon entitled, “What Then Should We Do?”
I commend it to you: What Then Should We Do?
Here’s to the blooming of our souls.
Here’s to those who walk with us when the change process feels hard.
Here’s to sharp friends, therapists, spiritual directors, companions, artists, and all who empower us to do what is life-giving.
Who, or what, has helped you change?
Here’s to the journey!
*A lectionary is a listing that contains a collection of scripture readings appointed for worship on a given day.