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Why is Change Difficult?

After learning I would be moving to another parish at the end of June, in mid-April I wrote an article, “The Next Change.” In that article, I talked about the inevitability of change, that we are not alone in needing to deal with change, and the different perspectives from which we see change. It is the last one I would like to reflect more on today.

In “The Next Change” I spoke of the perspectives I see the change in, both in terms of leaving St. Luke’s and the future I have ahead at St. Mary’s of the Lakes and St. Benedict’s. The two perspectives I face parallel what the parishioners of both parishes face in that they are both losing a priest they have known and receiving a new priest that may be unknown to them.

Whether we like the way things have been or the priest leaving or not, the change brings uncertainty. Even if we don’t like the way things have been or the priest, there is always one positive when things don’t change. We know how things are. The saying is “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.” Most people like stability because we fear the unknown. Without things changing we know how things are. If things change, we may need to change ourselves.

We don’t have to fear change. Change can be a good thing for it can bring opportunity. This is especially true when we don’t like the way things have been. We might even welcome the change. Here it is a question whether our desire for change is greater than the risk we see in the change.

What about if we like the way things are? Can change be a good thing then? Yes, because it can bring new opportunities or a fresh perspective. Sometimes we became complacent when things are going well and we just keep doing the same thing over and over without any thought. We are comfortable with the ways things are. We don’t want to introduce any changes that might rock the boat. We don’t want to take any risk. Here the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” comes to mind.

However, when a new person comes who is open to learning and appreciating the way things have been, they can bring new ideas that bring a “new freshness” that makes things even better than they are. Thus, they bring new opportunity. The strengths of the new person may bring new life to our weaknesses (see my previous article on strengths and weaknesses “Having What It Takes”)

All this being said, even “change” can have “change” within it. As I have mentioned in my previous articles on change, I am used to going to a new parish and not knowing much about it or the parishioners knowing much about me. That is “normal” change. However this time is different. St. Mary’s and St. Ben’s is my home parish. This means I know some things about them and they know some things about me.

So, the change is different this time. In some ways this makes it easier. It is not a complete unknown. I am already in conversation with the staff at St. Mary’s and St. Ben’s. As we talk, not everything is new. For instance, when I look at the list of upcoming weddings, there are last names I recognize. I say last names because it is the couple’s parents that I know because their parents are near my age. This brings familiarity. Recognizing the names can bring a sense of familiarity. That brings comfort.

Yet, I caution myself that everything is not exactly the same. For instance, the children are not exactly like their parents. For the weddings I will do, it is the bride and groom getting married that is to be my focus, not just the parents (The parents are part of their family and important, just not the point of the wedding).

I also find myself remembering some of the musicians. These leads to me thinking about when I presided at Mass for the very first time. It was at St. Mary’s and I got to pick the music. So, it was all music I really like. I hope they still do some of those same songs but it is not all about me. I pray that they don’t just do music I like. I pray that they do music that helps bring everyone closer to Christ (a little something for everyone) and gives praise to God in a way pleasing to God.

I think I have drifted from my topic for this article of why change is difficult to reminiscing about the past. Actually, in the present change for me this is part of the challenge. It is good, it is even necessary to remember the past or we can’t learn from it. As, we reminisce, we just need to be open to the future that God has planned for us.

There is one more aspect of the difficulty of change I would like to include here. It is the transition itself. Seldom do changes happen in an instant. In this case, it will be just short of two months from the time from when the changes were announced to priests assignments actually change. So, I work hard to remain faithful to my current parish of St. Luke’s as well as preparing for what is to come at St. Mary’s of the Lake and St. Benedict’s. That means I have more on my mind right now. I count on the Holy Spirit to guide me.

Change does seem evitable and it can be challenging. We do not need to fear the change. God is with us. I will end now the same way I ended my previous article, “The Next Change”.

“God has a plan. In Jeremiah 29:11 we read, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.

Yes, God has a plan. From the words that Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer, let us all pray “thy will be done.””

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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