Thursday, 17 November 2011

Is that the Alarm Clock?

In Vancouver there is a little boy named Dov, 18 months old. He is very good-natured, grinning far more often than crying.  Like all toddlers he’s funny and cute and wins hearts everywhere he goes. He loves books and cookies and playing ball, but what he deeply does NOT love is being forced to change what he’s doing. If he wants to run toward the road, only physical force will divert him. If he’s watching the screen on Daddy’s Iphone, you’d better put in your earplugs before you take it away. If it’s time to put on snow pants when he’s happy in the livingroom, good luck.  Dov doesn’t always embrace change. He doesn’t like to be changed, either.

Why am I still like a toddler?
If “the only constant in life is change” shouldn’t we be used to it by now?
Why do we often react to change with fear and loathing? Why do we assume change  will be for the worse?
 Researching the source of that quote, I found that from Heraclitus to Huxley, thinkers have discussed the instability and unpredictability of human life on planet Earth.  Shouldn’t change feel like the norm instead of catching us off-guard?
You’d think that our life experience had been like the movie “Groundhog Day”, each day exactly like the previous one.  

We’re so shaken when familiar landmarks fall or new circumstances arise. I park at a favourite restaurant and groan at the “Out of Business” sign.  Instead of imagining the fun of finding a different favourite, I whine, “Can’t anything stay the same?” As soon as my husband and I get the basement floor re-tiled, our furnace humidifier springs a leak and we rant at the irony. Why are we so surprised? We’ve been on this planet for decades!
Maybe your older child had the skilled and friendly Grade 4 teacher so you’re shocked when your younger gets a new teacher nobody knows. Or just when you’re feeling comfortably confident in your current job, a tempting position is posted. Out of the blue a difficult decision is plopped in your lap. Why so unsettling?
Maybe it’s because we prefer to sleepwalk most of the time, like driving the route home on auto-pilot while we focus our thoughts elsewhere.

Although I often give thanks for the predictability of the Creator’s natural laws (spring always follows winter, and water always runs downhill in our furnace room), I guess I need to be thankful as well for surprising changes. No matter how common, change affects us like an alarm clock buzz. When we're startled awake, what if we could respond not with dread, but with excitement about new possibilities?

Recently I heard an interesting snatch from a video sermon. An athlete told about the football tackle that ended his professional sports career. He explained that instead of the natural tendency to cry, “Why did this happen to me?” he has learned to ask with anticipation, “Why am I suddenly here?” Why am I on this two-hour bus ride to an emergency room with my football trainer beside me? What unexpected opportunity or benefit might have suddenly arrived?

One of my favourite names in the bible for God is, “My Rock”.
Let’s see - how can I fit together a rock and an alarm clock?