Learning to live with the paradoxes of life

Living and growing

Posted: Friday, January 12, 2001

There is an interesting paradox to life that centers around our being new and different every day, yet also the same. In my 11 years of working, driving, walking and living in our Juneau community, I have seen many changes and much growth. Yet for all of those changes, I can still look around me and experience the awe and wonder of the same mountains, valleys and sea that define this community we call home. Much has changed, yet much has remained the same.

Some of us become so infatuated with newness and change that chaos results. We are never satisfied. We are always looking for something different to appease our hunger for change. Our society spends a lot of energy and money trying to convince us that we are not satisfied with things as they are. Discontent is the all too frequent everyday reality.

Others are caught up in sameness. Change is seen as a threat. There is a longing for things as they were. In all areas of life security is found in the familiar - in that which remains the same. There needs to be an understanding that change and sameness need not be at odds. Life without change would be void of newness, just like a life of sameness would close the door to a vibrant life. Our struggle often centers on finding the wisdom to know when to hold on to sameness and when to embrace change.

The Bible invites us into both newness and sameness. For example, II Corinthians 5:17 says, "so if anything is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything has become new!" The Christian faith invites us into newness. Yet Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever." Just as the Bible gives us a vision for the blessed sameness of Christ's love and forgiveness, so we live in newness that is life-changing and brings a whole new dimension to life.

Sameness can cause us to cling to behaviors, attitudes, opinions and stereotypes that may be very harmful to others and us. Likewise, change for the sake of change can cause us to leave behind stability that is vital to life. In all these choices faith in God is a resource for keeping us focused on healthy choices.

Give some thought to where you stand in relationship to sameness and change in your life. How do the seeming contradictions get resolved in the living of your life? What is the same in your life that should remain the same? What is the same that needs to change? What is new and different that enhances life? What is new and different that damages your well-being? How can you incorporate the newness of faith and the sameness of Jesus Christ into your decision making? In all these realities we have God's promise to be with us always.

We face many decisions in our complicated and complicating world. We struggle with, and celebrate, the implications of sameness and change every day of our lives. Thankfully we have a God who walks with us on this journey. God continues to open new doors for us as we face what is new and different, as well as that which remains the same. May we experience the gift of God's presence as we live with the paradoxes of life.

Larry Rorem is the pastor at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.

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