Beyond the cocoon

If change is inevitable, why is it so painful?

For it is inevitable, that much is plain to me as I hike with a good friend along a former railroad in a valley in Central Pennsylvania. There once had been two thriving coal towns along this line. Now there are only deep woods, with an occasional cement block to hint at the former inhabitants.

But that’s not the only change. We pick our way down to the edge of a shallow lake, covered with miniature lily pads. In the middle is a beaver lodge.

My friend tells me that beavers had built a dam years ago, but when the food ran out, they abandoned it. Over time, the dam broke and the marsh reverted to a stream in a meadow. But now, the beavers have returned. And with them, the lake. The cycle of change continues. It looked to me like the meadow waited in the wings for those dammed rodents to leave again

Though change may be natural, it doesn’t come naturally to humans. We often fight it tooth and nail. We gravitate toward comfort and stability -- which would be fine if weren’t still in this current world. Jon Foreman, frontman for the group Switchfoot, when asked about More Than Fine (my favorite song of his and my phone’s ringtone), answered, “So much of what I hear today is content with things the way they are. I feel like contentment can be a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Now is the time to change.”  

Dangerous contentment. One of our enemy's most insidious ploys.

We are like the caterpillar I photographed inching down a plant stem. We crawl along. We eat. We function quite well, thank you. But we were never meant to remain slow-footed and anchored to a plant. Or wrapped in a comforting cocoon.

We were destined for flight.

I am facing a major life change in the coming months. As I do, I will take to heart the words of the Christian thinker, Frank Goble, who said, “The creative person is flexible -- he is able to change as the situation changes, to break habits, to face indecision and changes in conditions without undue stress. He is not threatened by the unexpected as rigid, inflexible people are.”

That adaptability is not just a quality of creative people. It is the flexibility of faith. For we know that if we must let go of something good, something better is coming.

That’s how the glory can be ever-increasing.

Jesus, you were able to bear the cross because of the joy beyond it. Help us to accept the changes you bring us with eyes of expectation and hope, knowing that all these small acts of letting go bring us closer and closer to our true selves: being more like you.

 

 

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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