"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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Embracing Change Through the Fear of it--a lesson from my children


posted by Susan Dominikovich on , , , , ,

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When Paul and I were engaged, we submitted ourselves to pre-marriage counselling.  I had no problem with the idea coming from the framework that all one-on-one or one-on-two sessions with a professional can only be good and also because it was like a forced date for the two of us.  Since we had had an unconventional courtship (ie, long-distance letter-writing), dates were good. 

Paul submitted because he had no choice.  Not quite gun to his head, but I think you get the picture.

However, Paul very quickly leaned towards my framework for such things and to this day, we treasure that time we had with Pastor Travis.  He gave us the building blocks for a great marriage and a wonderful life together.

In those sessions, I remember Pastor Travis warning us that "change" is one of the biggest factors which puts stress on a relationship.  He was warning us because he knew our plan was to move from Canada to New Zealand straight after our wedding and he wanted us to be prepared.

We were young.  We had few ties and responsibilities but much adventure in our spirit. We feared nothing.  What's another country between friends?  What's moving half-way around the world away from friends and family?  Mere trifles surely in the scheme of things.

And I suppose, looking back at all that adventure in our spirit, the change was just a trifle.  We were in the right place, doing the right thing and having a lot of fun as we explored new things, new careers and new people.  There was little stress on our relationship.  Travis was not wrong in warning us; it just meant we had to be certain of our bond, certain of our direction and certain of our faith.  And in all of those things, we were very certain.

Fast-forward several years and four children.  The adventurous spirit long gone in the whirlwind of soiled nappies, grocery bills, heating costs, committees, jobs, cleaning, laundry health and education.  All summed up by one word:  responsibility.

Somewhere in our thirteen years of parenthood we lost sight of the balance between responsibility and adventure.  We assumed we were doing the right thing, giving our children all those things we thought they needed:  roots, stability, consistency, predictability....  There wasn't much room for adventure in this new life as RESPONSIBLE PARENTS so we pushed that little spark of adventure into a corner of our spirit labelled "not now."

So when we came to a point when that tiny adventurous spark inside of us was crying out and pleading for help before finally becoming extinguished FOREVER (and thus a big part of us dying too), we stopped.

We assessed.

We looked back and we looked ahead.

We realised.

And we grabbed hold of each other and looked one another in the eye with fright as we said the words, "how close did we come?"

Too close. 

Something had to change.  

But the kids?

What about roots, stability, consistency, predictability...?

Yes, but something had to change.  They'll be fine.  We'll help them through it.

Remembering that "change is one of the biggest factors to put stress on a relationship" (and we had six times six relationships to consider), we braced ourselves and embarked.

We sold our house.

We sold a lot of things.  Because things are only things after all.

We sold a car.

We put stuff into storage.

We left our community of 18 years.

We left our friends.

We travelled through the country, living out of our van for 3 1/2 weeks, not always knowing where the road would take us from one day to the next or where we would lay our heads.

We moved to a new city.

We moved into a new house.

We bought new things.  Because things are only things after all.

We started at new schools.

We made new friends.

I guess you could say, on the change scale, we were right up the danger end.  At any point we expected our relationships to blow to oblivion under the stress of it all.  And we were ready, arms wide to console our children on the loss of those things they needed:  roots, stability, consistency, predictability.

But it never happened.

One of our daughters had half a day of sadness in the new house which wasn't the old house but that vanished by the time we had hopped on our bikes to explore the new neighbourhood.  In actual fact, it was our children who reached out to us with wide arms, glowing eyes, and smiling faces to console us.  To reassure us.  To help us through the loss of roots, stability, consistency, predictability.

Those things they never actually needed.

And neither did we.

Because quite simply, all any of the six of us actually need is each other and our faith.  Our children have faith in us and know that we love them and love God so are making the right decisions and changes for them.  That's all they need to know and so they have embraced the changes in our lives.  They are secure and that's all that matters.

And we have faith in God to know these changes are not for the sake of change itself.  We are not just getting out of the proverbial rut.  The changes in our lives have come because we have listened to His quiet (and sometimes not so quiet!) voice in our ear and so we know we will all be okay no matter how scary (and uprooted, unstable, inconsistent and unpredictable) it becomes.  Because just as we provide love and security to our children, so does our Father God provide these things for us.  Every step of the way.

But here's the thing:  none of us is just okay.  We're thriving in the change.  The six of us have always been a tight unit but we're closer than ever.  Our relationships are stronger and we're happier and more joyful and more relaxed and more at peace than we've been in a very long time.  

When unpacking all of this with a friend recently, someone who has modelled adventurous parenting, she said that she's convinced most change is never a bad thing. Please note there are changes outside of our control which involve deep loss and pain and grief and I would never over-simplify that pain by saying tritely that there must still be some good in that.  I am referring to change which occurs out of choices we have to make.  We put it off and put it off until we finally have no choice and then we look back and wonder why we waited so long.  Yes.  That's it exactly.  Every time.  

Because every time we do exactly the same thing again.

But really, why do we put off what's good for us?  Because we're human.  How long exactly did the Israelites wander around in the desert before they finally went into the promised land?  Forty years.

Forty years.

I am thankful at this moment we didn't wait forty years to claim the promises of God.

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