I was lay leader at our Unitarian Church yesterday, and our minister asked me to write a reflection on change and growth through learning. Here's what I wrote and delivered yesterday. (I based it on a post I wrote a few years ago, so some of it may sound vaguely familiar.)
My whole life I’ve just been trying to figure out who the heck I am and learn more about the myself and world around me.
In a nutshell, here's how my self awareness has gone down.
Teenage years: Who the hell am I going to be?
College years: Well that was wrong, maybe I'll try this identity/profession/relationship! I’ll try this new experience/flavor/location!
Post college years: This is who I am! I like me! I like my life!
Post marriage: Let’s have a baby or two!
Immediate post baby: Can't think about that stuff, must stay awake to provide loving, safe, nourishing home for baby. Only purpose in life is baby.
Post baby period: Now where do I fit in the world and what else can I learn about my place in it?
I needed to take stock of how I had changed since I had children and who I still was outside of them. This led to some serious spiritual questioning of why we were here on earth and then, how I could make my time on it more joyful and meaningful. (This is still an ongoing question and process).
At some point I realized that all this time I have been changing. But I didn’t really know how I fit into the world around me anymore and I needed to focus in and pay attention. I needed to embrace my change.
But it’s not easy. Change is hard.
And sometimes the change is something you really don’t want to happen. You lose a loved one, you lose a job, or you face illness. You know what I mean. Change isn’t always good, but it happens and it changes us and we choose what becomes of us because of that change.
Change threatens control and we can grow through it or get stuck in the same old circle of pain. I think that very struggle IS life.
The struggle to find myself in this world has sometimes been a spiritual struggle and sometimes been a personal one. I feel the need to justify my presence on the earth and to make the world a better place. I hope that I grow, change, become better. I think that’s what most people want, when they think about it. It’s just that sometimes it’s easier to think about and work on than others.
But I don’t think it has to be a big spiritual journey. I have found that if I work on the small things around me that the ripple effect goes out.
Over the last few years, I have been able to continue to look around at life outside of the narrow constructs of child raising . I have narrowed down from my wild search of the divine and my place in the world and began to focus on making our life joyful and meaningful from the home on out.
In the last few years I developed as a caregiver. I mean caregiver in the true meaning of the words. I have been working hard at learning to give care. This has not always been an easy role, . it was one I was handed and the one that I chose and I am making the best of it.
I work to develop my friendships. I tried to make the effort to reach out and deepen the existing relationships I have built with people in my community. The friendships and support that we have right now in our circle of friends (which include my parents-another amazing gift) are so nourishing and wonderful and bring joy to us and feed my soul.
I travel. It is my passion and my addiction and my joy and my great expense. But I love it and can justify it in many ways. I say that it opens our eyes to places outside where we live. It recharges our batteries to face the daily life. It connects us to the people we travel with and creates something special that we will always share. And it definitely helps to make me grow and open my mind.
I feel like I am figuring things out day by day and that is a good pace. I still sometimes hate change. I resist it kicking and screaming at times. But I know change is inevitable. And I’ll either roll with it or fight it and change will still be happening. I’ll just try to stay in the moment more, be more patient, love more, listen more. I’ll just try to keep learning.