The Choice For Change

This past year has been incredibly hard as a pastor in a local church because all of the ways that I used to provide pastoral care for those in need had to change because of COVID.  

I have had church members lose loved ones and not be able to hold a memorial service for them.  

I've seen people lose their jobs, struggle with depression, worry over children, and cry out in desperation over the state of the world, and I've only been able to comfort them over the phone, or through a video screen.  

It's been a year of storms for all of us.  We've all been through a lot---none of us has been immune to experiencing some kind of loss, and some of us more than others.  

Today I read a quote from author Haruki Murakami that I resonated with, but I also thought it a bit incomplete.  Here's the quote: 

Once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive.  You won’t even be sure in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain.  When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. 

Going through a storm and then coming through the other side changes you, to be sure.  But how it changes you is what makes all the difference.  You might very well be a different person for having gone through the storm, but the kind of person you become is entirely up to you.  

I was in a car accident once where in the split-second before it happened, I just knew I was going to either die or be seriously hurt.  

When the powder from the airbags settled, I remember looking down at my body, expecting to see nothing but carnage.  Instead, I was completely unscratched.  

In the same way, when the storms in our lives subside, we often get the chance to pause and take stock of what has happened to us.  I've discovered in my own life that what I thought was going to bring complete and total destruction, usually didn't.  

But even when it did, there was always something new and unexpected that rose to new life in its wake.  And with that new life, new direction, or new growth, there also came a choice.  

You see, we all have a choice when it comes to how we respond to the storms in our life.  We can choose to let them leave us embittered and hollow inside, or we can choose something different. 

The storms of life can take a lot of things from us, to be fair.  But they can't take away who we are deep inside where the Spirit lives and moves.  They can't take away our identity as beloved by God.  

If you have gone through some hard things this past year, rest assured that it has changed you.   

But what you do now depends entirely on you.  You can choose to trust that God is going to do what God does, and there is restoration and resurrection on the other side of it all... or you can take the other option. 

Just know that the other option isn't life-giving at all, and you'd be better served to just let it go.  Choose life instead.  Choose to let the changes you've undergone shape your best and truest self. 

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  

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