changing by not changing at all

Posted: March 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

I changed by not changing at all.

~Pearl Jam, Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town

I surely must have mentioned here at some point that I’m a podcast junkie.  It’s one of my favorite things about having a smartphone.  The spaces of time where my body needs to get stuff done but my brain isn’t required to participate much are all opportunities to tune in.  I listen while I clean the house and do laundry, while I drive, and while I work in the yard.

Once upon a time I’d have filled all that space with music.  Over years of doing the “prayer warrior” thing I shifted to silence more often than not, and now I don’t do “background music” much anymore unless it either has no lyrics at all, with a few exceptions.  For the most part, music with lyrics is distracting to me now in a way that feels like noise if I’m trying to split my attention, maybe because I had used music to check out or numb out quite often over the years and now I’m not interested in checking out.  Saying it that way reminds me of a comment from genius musician friend Glenn Kaiser, who once mimed someone sucking their thumb when he talked about the unhealthy use of music for some – that was me for sure, for a long time.

Podcasts keep my brain engaged rather than checking it out.  At this point in the journey my faith so thoroughly informs my perspective that basically ALL podcasts speak to me on some transcendent level.  The stuff I listen to is a mix of stories, education, history, and insights; almost all of it provokes me to question my status quo.  What I love about being where I am is that I see God at every turn.  An atheist tells his story, and I see God’s hand so clearly in it that I weep for joy as I listen.  The most raucous and provocative tales show me things about myself, about the human condition.  Inevitably as I listen I end up praying, and pretty much every time I carry out tidbits of information so rich I can chew on them for days and more.

One of the less amazing but consistently helpful podcasts I enjoy is Personality Hacker.  Recently they reviewed the 3 different types of general motivations for romantic relationships, naming them as comfort, playfulness, and growth, saying that while comfort and playfulness can be nice things to have, if either is the primary motivation, the relationship is unlikely to be sustainable over the long term, while a growth relationship will by its nature include the benefits of both comfort and playfulness and can survive the long haul.  I’m having fun pondering that; it’s my nature to agree with their point, but/and I’m open to considering other perspectives.

Recently our pastor challenged us in church, saying that the words “sedentary” and “believer” should never go together – that God didn’t call us to maintenance, but to advancement.  That was one of those wiggling, nodding, amen-ing moments for me.  His was a challenge for us to go out and serve – to be a world changer – but/and I think it applies equally to personal growth.

It has been said that when we’re not growing, we’re losing ground.  I think of that song I quoted at the top (and its title, that tells much of the story), and I’ve known those people.  Changing by not changing at all.  People who once were lively and interesting and fun – who once radiated joy or hope or at least fierceness, who slowly changed to bitterness and intractability.  Who settled into a miserable existence without realizing they were making the transition.  You’ve known them too, right?   Some of the folks who look wistfully back to their high school glory days are those people – they didn’t change along the way, and now life doesn’t work for them anymore, and they’re looking all around to find someone to blame.

I’ve said before that if 20 year old me had met today me, she wouldn’t have recognized her.  I don’t know if she’d even have wanted to get to know her.  There are many things about me that, had you predicted them to me back in that portion of the journey, I’d have laughed you out of the room.  That’s not who I am. That’s not where I’m going!  I’m so glad I didn’t stay stuck at who I used to be.

For me, I’ll keep on greedily pursuing growth.  Growth with God, growth in myself.  Changes in perspectives and habits.  Prying open the closed spaces within myself, and never telling myself that there are no closed spaces left.  For me, that’s a way of peace and joy.

If changing by not changing at all is creeping up on you, maybe stop to consider whether that’s bringing you joy or backing you into a corner.

There’s probably still time to shift, if you don’t like the answer to that question.



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