Thursday, September 10, 2015

Change and change back


"Change back."

The second is as inevitable as the first.

As sure as my widening bottom comfortably settles into the leather cushion of my favorite chair, my heart, mind and even my soul resist change. As surely as novelty attracts, it also repels.

Doing new things, or even doing old things in a new way, is like stretching a rubber band. The band stretches, because after all, that's what it's made to do. But it also stretches back and relaxes into its old shape. Change and change back.

Psychologists and others who study family systems or organizational behavior watch for that "change back" behavior, because that's where crunch time begins. Planning a new way to do things is relatively easy. It's also exciting. It generates optimism and hope, or just the relief that comes with abandoning old ways and the gripes and complaints that are attached to them.

But change meets resistance. I wandered off from writing for a few minutes to run a search on "change and change back." Got multiple definitions of the idiom "change back," but the first hit of any substance was "Trump says he will change Denali’s name back to Mt. McKinley." Seriously. Changing the name to "Denali" is itself a change-back, a restoration of the original Native American name. Because  it's kind of ridiculous for an ancient peak in Alaska to be named for all eternity in honor of a 19th century politician from Ohio who was admittedly elected president but who, 114 years later, is best known for being assassinated and succeeded by Teddy Roosevelt.  (The Wikipedia page on Mt. Denali is currently "protected from editing," I'm guessing there are folks who are trying to change Denali back to McKinley--all day long.)

Changing your behavior in a relationship can be very disruptive, even if the change you are making is in a positive direction. I know this from experience. When you stop taking the bait or stop assuming the guilt, the other person in the relationship will intensify the baiting and the guilting in order to get things to return to the way they were. Ceasing to dance that old dance might be better for everyone involved, but when feet know the steps to that old dance, that's the one they want to follow, even if it's ugly. Even if it's destructive.

Jesus went about Galilee and Judea preaching and personifying change. The religious establishment, represented by the Pharisees, said, no, that's not how we do it. Change back. Even Jesus' disciples, who followed him, attracted by something that was different about him—even they sometimes said, change back.

From Mark 8: 27-38, the gospel for Sunday, September 20:
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.  He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. (v. 31-32) 
Jesus' response acknowledged that new ways are hard and costly:
 If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. (v. 34-35)
Change is inevitable. Inevitably we all die. We all decay as we await that death, clutching ever more tightly to the known things in our lives, the idols that we think will stave off that inevitable final change.

But Jesus invites us to face death with him, face the losing of the familiar, the secure, the comfortable. By losing that life, by changing, we are saved.

1 comment:

Becky G said...

Change is that one thing...We are in the middle of change, going back to the days when my family was faith based and attending church. For me this change is so needed. Been reading John Montgomery's Where Christ is Present, is his site for it. But this book has started my motivation to get us towards where we need to be. It all starts with a change.