Embracing Change

Summertime brings outdoor fun and memories of childhood, among them, homemade ice cream. Daddy was a champion ice cream chef, with chocolate perhaps being his most sought-after flavor. I loved helping him heat the milk, crush the junket tablets (remember those?), add the ingredients, and maintain a steady stir with a long, red-handled spoon. Once the concoction was just right, he’d pour it in the churn and allow the mixture to cool while we went to the ice house, a place of fascination for me.

I loved to watch the workers walk into the refrigerated room, snag a giant block of ice with sharp tongs, drag it out onto the splintery wooden loading dock, and hoist it into the crusher. I covered my ears against the noise as the ice block entered the crusher and exited the chute on the other side of the machine, sparkling chunks falling into a tall, thick paper bag.

Once I was back in daddy’s station wagon, he’d place the tall, open-topped bag of crushed ice between my legs. It was my job to keep it from sliding sideways and turning over on the trip home. At first, the cold seeping through the bag felt good against my legs in the steamy, un-air-conditioned car, but about halfway home, I was ready to shift to a different position and get away from the coldness. I was ready for my current condition to change.

Some of us seek change; others resist it. Change isn’t always my friend, but I’m learning to embrace it, most of the time. Here are a few things I’ve discovered:

Change happens regardless of our wishes – I have a love/hate relationship with technology. I love it when all my gadgets work the way they are supposed to and hate it when they suddenly do something annoying and senseless, like stop doing what they’re designed to do.

Several years ago, I was having problems with my cell phone. I knew I was about to open my wallet for a major expenditure when I walked in the phone store and all the infants working there pointed to my phone with one hand and stifled their laughing with the other.

“Look,” shouted one juvenile employee, multiple sleek phones swinging from his belt as he pointed toward me from across the crowded room with his i-pad, “An antique!”

Other gadgets I purchased only a few years ago have been replaced with a new and improved models and parts are no longer available for the ones I have. And the cold-shoulder tops that are all the rage in ladies’ fashion this year will probably be replaced with Elizabethan-style puffed sleeves next year. Change happens and we can either accept it, learn how to live with it while still maintaining our faith and values, or waste a lot of time tsk-ing and ranting about how rotten life is with all this change.

Change is often freeing – I’ve been on a mission for over a year to de-clutter our house. It’s amazing how much accumulates in twenty-eight years, not to mention what we brought with us from our first house, much of which has never made it out of the boxes. De-cluttering is hard because it makes you think and process and make decisions about letting go. De-cluttering thoughts and stored emotions is similar. It’s easier to leave them boxed up than to look at and process them, but I’ve found de-cluttering brings a sense of accomplishment and relief. Likewise, change is often freeing.

Change can be positive  – Last week our pastor announced some changes for our church. I can already see how these changes are going to bring our church body closer together after years of being separated into two worship venues and four services. And I can see how these changes will take burdens off our church staff. While some have mentioned concerns, most embrace the anticipated positive results of change.

As with many things in life, looking for the positives first, instead of digging for the negatives, makes a big difference in your perspective. The ability to face change with a positive outlook determines how successfully you move forward.

A lot of change has occurred since my childhood. The ice house is gone. The churn we use today is smaller and electric and my son and daughter are the ice cream makers and churn tenders. Daddy and other beloved family members died much sooner than I would have liked, but we still have summer fun, homemade ice cream, and family togetherness in the house where I grew up.

The newest generation is arriving and thriving and I am embracing grandparenthood. God is blessing today as he has in the past. Time keeps propelling us into forward motion with the knowledge that change is inevitable, but God, the changeless One, is only a prayer away.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17 NIV)

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