Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oh, So Many Changes

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France


As I read this quotation this morning, I had to stop and wonder about all the 'lives' I have had.  I jokingly talk quite frequently about doing things 'in a former life' and people tend to find that humorous. 
It's interesting that I find myself writing my own words today instead of sharing someone else's whom I find challenging or inspiring.  The past few days several friends and I have carried on an ever-evolving conversation about this very topic.  They are amazed when I talk about my life as the christian education director at a church far away and then my next life as a preschool teacher and new mother, then my life as the founder and creator of an organization for children who were abused or neglected, and then my life as the director of a family resource center providing all levels and types of services to families in rural middle-America.  Then there was my life as an unemployed middle-ager with a teen aged son. And now my life as the program director at another church.  That's just the last twenty-two years.  There were many other lives before these.
These friends have lived in the same community their entire lives, doing the same jobs, living in the same house, with the same friends.  They are amazed at the "adventure" my life has been.  I am amazed at theirs.
I don't know that I would call my life an adventure.  The dictionary describes adventure as: an exciting experience, a bold undertaking, or financial speculation.  Well, I guess my life up to this age of fifty-five years, has been an adventure. 
Certainly, it has had its excitement.  No, I haven't had glamorous trips around the world.  I don't party with the movers and shakers at any level.  I work hard at keeping in the background as much as I possibly can so that what I do doesn't become about me, but about the cause to which I've given my time, my money, and my talents.  Certainly, the majority of the folks reading this will think there was little excitement in what I did, but for me the challenge of taking on that position, that cause, was and is excitement.  Making a difference and leaving that place a little better because I was there is the excitement. 
I am sure that many would not think what I have done was bold, but if you had known me as a child you would be amazed at some of the things I have done.  I was very shy as a child, afraid to speak to anyone who wasn't well-known to me.  I have sat with senators and law enforcement officers and leaders at the local, state and national levels about the issues that I hold dear to my heart.  I have called those meetings, and those people have come to talk to me.  Pretty bold for a little girl who used to hope that no one noticed her.
And about that financial speculation, well, anyone who knows me knows that I have tried never to make money the issue.  I am not a wealthy woman by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, the last few years have been a challenge for me financially, but I am a survivor and I will continue to do the work that I believe is important and know that it always works out in the end.  Don't get me wrong, I am doing alright but I will NEVER make what I do about the money.  Some will say that this philosophy is foolish.  For those folks, I simply say, "You will never understand, and that's OK." 
This life--all of it, the BIG one--is about growing, stretching yourself, and continually learning...about the world, about those around you, and mostly about yourself.  Each life held its lessons and at the end of all of them, its about what you did to make the world and the people around you better, because of some little thing you may have done, or not done as the case may be.
Each life will have its challenges, its bold steps, and its financial speculations, but it will also hold all the riches that come with meeting those challenges, bold steps, and financial speculations head-on, accepting them, and surpassing them.  Then you can rise to the next level...
And begin the next life. 
"Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins.
If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.
No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."
Matthew 9:17

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