When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back – Paulo Coelho
They say that there are two things in life that people are afraid of. The first one is of death and dying – well that makes sense, no explanation needed. The second greatest fear is that of “change.” We may say we embrace change; change is fun, exciting, stimulating, gets our motor running. But if truth be told, we are terrified of it! Things will be different and we don’t know what shape they will take. Perhaps we want to keep things just the way they are and not change them – even when things aren’t necessarily good or healthy, we may feel more comfortable not changing them. That old adage…better the devil you know…comes to mind.
Life is filled with many surprises, possibilities, and an almost never-ending list of opportunities for growth – if only we can permit ourselves to be open to them. It is possible to pursue a meaningful and productive life all the days of our lives, but we may have to learn how to welcome in, and adjust to life’s changes.
Change isn’t easy, but neither is living, or dying. We struggle against the inevitable, and we suffer because of it. We must strive to find another way to look at the process of being born, growing old, changing, and even dying. It helps if we believe that each one of us carries within, an inherent quality which is unique, unchangeable, beautiful, and constant; a pure essence that aging, illness and major challenges cannot alter.
Along with the feeling of powerlessness that many people experience as they face change in their lives, can also come a loss of meaning. We may think that as our familiar and comfortable roles as workers, parents, consumers, or lovers change, that we cease to matter. Such painful feelings can deprive us of joy and lead us to seeing ourselves as burdensome and obsolete.
All spiritual practices encourage people to identify the things that frighten them and learn to draw their fears close. To face change in a conscious way, fearlessness is an essential ingredient. It involves the willingness to tell the truth to ourselves and others, and to confront what is in our minds. Rather than turning away from our fear, we can regard it with eyes wide open and allow it to rise up and pass in its own time. Perhaps then we can begin to take back our power.
Many of us have been trained to view ourselves as what we do to make a living. Certainly our careers and vocations have helped to structure our days and make us feel needed and valued. Therefore, we may be afraid that we will be useless if and when those roles have reached an end, even if relinquished willingly. Losing a job or retiring can be a great source of fear for us. We will lose our power and our position in the world and fade into oblivion. There are so many ways to remain vital and relevant if we look past the fear and allow ourselves to explore the options. We may discover that those fears were founded on misconceptions and are far worse than reality.
For many of us, our apprehension over what the future holds is synonymous with our fear of change. Change is nearly always viewed as a threat since the ego is only comfortable with what it can control. But being open can help to relieve the anxiety we might feel about change, for the soul is not subject to change in the same way the ego is. Perhaps we can learn to approach change with curiosity rather than dread and to be more comfortable with not knowing.
I know my life has changed a great deal and may change even more. I don’t know the outcome of my illness yet but I still live with hope, and do my best to embrace each new change as it comes.
For now I am out of the hospital and out of rehab centers. I am back in my own lovely apartment and am blessed with wonderful Filipino 24/7 caregivers. I have only two more chemo treatments and have been lucky to go through them quite easily not even losing any of my hair. And one of the world’s greatest doctors regarding this illness, Dr. Posner, has joined our amazing team of healers and is working with my awesome neurologist Dr. Rebecca Fisher. So I am very optimistic and feeling so hopeful that GOOD CHANGES are about to happen. So yes, change is in the air for me and it feels great.
* What are some of the changes in your own life that cause you fear?
* Can you take a look at these changes and see them as opportunities for you?
Beloved God, you changed the world so many times but especially when you sent your son to this earth to help us see new and different changes – new ways to live and die. Help us to learn to be open and less afraid of the changes that come in our lives. Help us to rely on you to guide us through those changes. Amen.