Is change the only constant in life?
Think about some of the best gifts you have ever received. What makes a gift great? Its beauty? Its prestige? Its rarity? Its usefulness or purpose? Its value, either monetary or sentimental? Its background story? The intent of the giver?
Every parent has been given something by a young child which melts their heart: a bouquet of dandelions, each one lovingly picked by a 3 year old, a plaster hand print from school, a necklace of mismatched beads, or a crown made of paper.
Prestigious? Not really.
Useful? That depends.
Valuable, with a great background story and given with love? Yes, yes, and yes.
Other gifts we may have received each fill out the questionnaire slightly differently.
Think beyond gifts that come wrapped, and one will find a massive list of gifts in this life: a home, friends, family, nature, other people, experiences, ideas, beauty, relationships, examples, influences, opportunities, miracles, struggles, pain, deprivations, heartache, and failures. Wait- what?
Gifts, all of them.
Change is certainly one of the great constants in this life. But is it the only one? Does anything else stay the same? Does everything grow and die? What continues, and for how long? Would I ever really want everything to stay the same?
In the movie “Finding Nemo”, Marlin promised he would never let anything happen to his son. Dory sees the nonsense in such a statement and replies, “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.” Of course we want great things to happen for those we love the most. And somehow, in our weakness, we would prefer that none of those things involve risk or pain or suffering because we or they might lose something wonderful in the process. And loss really hurts. And hurting stinks.
There is at least one other constant in life, less obvious unless you practice looking for it. It is the love of God. His incredible love, His truth and light never change, although we see them to greater degrees as we change in good ways. That is why change has to be such a persistent part of us; we aren’t like Him yet and so we must have the opportunity and freedom to change. The more we refine our souls in positive ways (even those ways which might be difficult to go through), the more we are able to see, know, and understand Him… if we are looking.
We have a few truly great gifts from God in this life. One is our physical body- which needs nourishment and resistance to grow. One is our intelligence- which needs the same thing. One is the ability to choose- “agency”- which brings about change in us. Our agency needs nourishment and resistance too: truth to nourish us and opposition against which to practice making good choices. Some choices take us downward and cause confusion and darkness, others uplift us and bring more light, more truth, more love into our lives. We learn by evolving in small ways.
Imagine having no ability to change. It’s like the opposite of freedom. Stagnation, also called damnation in the scriptures, is a horrible thought. When one is damned or dammed, one is stopped. Halted from further progress. Required to stay put. Impaired, damaged. No more learning, growing, becoming. Done. Maybe even reduced.
That’s not really the desire or plan God has for us. He would love it if we would choose to continue progressing because that’s why He made us. He created us so we could grow, love, and become like He is. “Eternal progress” is what we call it at church, and it starts now. It is the path we choose by wanting it with all our hearts. When truth resonates in us and we love it enough to incorporate it into our lives, we are rewarded with a little more truth, learning as we go. It’s a little at a time and comes according to our heart’s desire to have it.
When we choose to bring truth’s opposites into our lives (lies, selfishness, enmity) we don’t grow, we stay. Whether our souls actually shrink or just seem to in contrast to the growth we have previously known, I’m not sure. But there’s no joy in holding still, not least because the world and people around us continue to transform.
Consider the potential for personal change as a gift. Is it beautiful? Yes, it can be.
Prestigious? Yes, considering where it can take us.
Rare? No. Common, although change can make each of us into magnificent individuals.
Useful? To the extreme if we use it well.
Valuable? One cannot begin to estimate its immense value.
Given with a good background story and loving intent? A full yes to both.
I appreciate this gift, this ability, the opportunity to change. It comes with bitterness and sweetness, heartache and joy, and I am trying to be thankful for all of it. It’s the kind of gift I want to keep forever.
I am not the person I want to be, yet. I want to travel an upward path, modify, transform, evolve, increase, improve, refine, upgrade, and polish myself: I want to change. Constantly.