Years ago, in seminary our kind and gracious professors had a phrase they used when we needed us to take a closer look at a behavior or belief. They called this place for examination, "growing edges." Soon we came to understand that these places of the heart were identified as our stuck/caught places. They were places that held us back. They were places that blocked our learning or living. Growing edges. What was true those many years ago at Candler, continue to be true for me today. One of my lifelong growing edges is my resistance to change.
More often than not, I can't wrap my head around change. Any change – big or small. It has a way of discombobulating my spirit. My biggest fear is that when change comes, I will become lost. And the hardest change of all for me is the kind that comes to my root system.
When changes have come to the places and to the people who keep me tethered and balanced – I have felt truly lost. The deaths of my parents, losses of friends to HIV and other illnesses, the loss of a job I thought I would always have – all of these changes have struck deep to the root of me, to the heart of me.
Sometimes I'm able to imagine the glass half-full. Sometimes I can recognize that change most always brings with it possibility. Openings come with changes that weren’t there before. Opportunities can be found for renewal and restoration.
My life experiences, all the times of holding on and letting go have taught me to trust what was, what is and what will be. My faith nudges me at all the best times to stay open, to keep looking. My faith grounds me and invites me to believe that something will come, a path will appear.
Perhaps our wisest teacher for living in and through change is nature’s yearly lesson of the changing seasons. Summer into fall, leaves letting go individually and beautifully into winter, bare branches bringing buds in the spring. One leading into another. Each season for its time. And then grace comes and there is a letting go and moving on toward what will be next.
My friend MJ took this beautiful picture along the Fox River in Wisconsin a couple years ago. This image invites us to journey on the path that is before us. We are invited to step through the woods, through the cold, through the beautiful possibility into what is to be next. If we stop and give up; if we stop and abandon the journey; if we allow our spirits to get stuck and resist what might be just on up around the next bend, then we might miss the very best moment. Just imagine what may be up the path just a bit…left foot, right foot.
Working in Family Experience at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Lesley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She and her partner, Linda Ellis are raising their two sons, Brogan (now a freshman at Guilford College) and Sam at sophomore at DHS in Decatur, GA.