I didn’t expect to move from Washington to North Carolina 2 months ago. The prospect didn’t even enter my conscious consideration until early December, when I flew to my sister’s as birthday present to myself. Yes, months earlier she’d mentioned that I should inhabit her 3rd floor, but I didn’t take her seriously. Who means that? Who offers that? Who really wants someone else living in their home? But once I got there, sitting in her living room, drinking coffee, and actually entertaining the possibility, it became shockingly clear to me that she wanted this. I could actually choose to say “yes” to a change that was bursting into my life — unexpected, surprising, shocking even.
How often we do we miss opportunity for change and transition? We either a) assume it’s not really ours to pursue or embrace; not really available; or b) immediately disregard it, given what it would require, cost (on multiple levels), and ultimately mean.
Though I have made this leap, believe me, there have been plenty of times in which I’ve not. Options were presented to me, but I disregarded them. I dreamed of something I really wanted, but didn’t believe it could actually happen. I knew that I could make a bold choice, but it felt too hard, too “out there,” too disruptive.
In denying myself the possibility inherent in change, I wonder: What did I miss out on because it felt like too much to accept, to walk toward / through, to be too good to be true?
Even more importantly: What change might yet be on the horizon were I to open myself to change, look for it, even assume that it’s right around the corner?
For me, at least this time, to not accept what’s been so graciously offered, feels like turning my back on something mysterious, even miraculous, that is clearly functioning on my behalf. I don’t want to ignore what doesn’t make sense. Not anymore. I’ve done plenty of that over 5+ decades of my life. Instead, I’m leaping into the unknown with Change and Transition in the front seat and me along for the ride . . .
So, at least a cursory exploration of unexpected change. Now, what does it mean to intentionally choose such?
When my sister made her generous and heartfelt offer to move into her home and incorporate myself into her family, I had a decision to make. Well, lots of them, actually.
- I had to intentionally choose to give up my independence, “solo” living, and autonomous lifestyle.
- I had to intentionally choose to accept others’ care, connection, and love.
- I had to intentionally choose to let go of “home” as I’ve created it for myself and instead, let that idea be more loose and fluid.
- I had to intentionally choose to leave behind a city I’ve lived in for 30 years, in which I’ve raised both my daughters, that is still their home — even if not in chosen location.
- I had to intentionally choose to say (incredibly hard) goodbyes to friends and family with whom I’ve been proximity-connected for most of my life.
- I had to intentionally choose to trust that even if this doesn’t work out, that there is something yet ahead that I can and will step into and embrace.
- And not insignificant, I had to intentionally choose to live without a kitchen of my own and a bathroom on the 2nd floor. 🙂
Some of these, admittedly, are small and inconsequential; others are huge and still in-the-works in my own mind and heart. Still, to spend the past few weeks sitting with the option and availability of choice — and then making such — has been empowering and humbling.
Here’s what I’ve come to: We almost always have choice; it’s the making and taking of such that trips us up. Whether it’s the unknowns or the tradeoffs or the sacrifices or even the benefits, we are far more comfortable with the status quo (even while we complain about it).
I say none of this to somehow affirm my own maturity or wisdom. Just the opposite! I have shunned choices left and right over my lifetime. I’ve not seen myself (or others) as able to handle them. I’ve found them inconvenient and hard. I’ve chosen the devil I know for the one I don’t.
What I’m inviting (for me and you both) is the possibility of just the opposite — of opening ourselves to the ample invitation of change and then intentionally choosing it. In my experience, both right now and in my past, it’s then that grace rushes in.
Finally, how “accepted” disruption serves. This, of my three points today, is the one that’s been on my mind a lot the past few weeks. Not because my own life-circumstances (or personal versions of disruption); more because I can’t not see just how frantically our culture works (often successfully) to keep us from accepting and allowing the harder parts of life . . . to our detriment.
We cannot avoid disruption — despite our endless attempts to do so. “Highlights” of recent and unavoidable disruption include:
- The 2016 election
- The necessary and long-silenced truth brought to light in the Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements; the miles-and-miles-and-miles we have yet to go related to sexism, racism, ableism, ageism, and so much more
- Global warming
- An international pandemic
- The drama of the 2020 election
- New strains of the virus
- The list goes on . . .
Then there are the more personal forms of disruption:
- Job loss
- Career changes
- Financial strain
- Relationship loss
- Avoided conversations and the ramifications of such
- Empty nests
- Existential questions and crises
(Almost every one of these is on my personal list in the past few two years!)
In the midst of all these realities, we live in a world that demands we maintain a positive outlook, that we “choose happy.” And if that’s not possible, it seduces us to dissociate through consumerism — buying things, programs, and possibilities — that promise us relief from the pain of life.
It is pain that makes beauty evident and felt! It is disruption that invites an acceptance of our own complexity, and just how complicated and glorious our life truly is.
Anything less than this, from where I sit, is not only disingenuous, but tragic.
I want you to welcome the disruption, the pain, the crises, the ache. They are, after all, unavoidable; even more, they’re part-and-parcel with life, with your wild and precious life. To allow in what you attempt to resist, even embrace such, is the best option (if not the only one) that allows for a life that is full, rich, real, and true.
And at the end of all things, that is all I want for you, for me, for all of us: a life that is full, rich, real, and true — inclusive of welcomed change and transition, intentional choices, and accepted disruption. May it be so!
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