When my daughter was young, she was infatuated with all things Cabbage Patch. The first Cabbage Patch dolls came on the market in 1983, and everyone had to have at least one (or two, or three). Apparently, in case you’re wondering, they are still available on Amazon for about sixty bucks! Oh my.
My point, however, is that things change.
CP dolls are not the rave they once were.
Christmas is about change too. Whether you are a Christ-follower or not, you can’t honestly deny the impact on the world that the first Christmas brought to us. The coming of the Christ-child changed the trajectory of history and billions of lives.
Sitting in front of my Christmas tree filled with ornaments and sparkling lights got me thinking about this time one year ago.
At that time, thoughts about and planning for our Christmas Eve services consumed me. In full-court press mode, everything about the season and my many responsibilities filled my days. I was on staff as a pastor and preparing my Christmas message series. I could barely sleep as the holiday kept me busy and excited.
Today, I am retired from ministry, and things are different and, in many ways, radically altered from just one year ago.
I’m not jotting down spiritual insights I plan on using in my Christmas talks.
I’m not taking extra vitamins C, D, and Zinc to ward off any potential holiday blues.
I’m not challenging and encouraging the staff to dream about how to make this the best Christmas ever.
This Christmas season is different.
But I’m okay.
Sure, part of me is struggling. What will it be like to sit in the pew on Christmas Eve as an attendee? (That will be weird.)
I will miss leading our people in Silent Night as we light candles.
I don’t get to read a Christmas story from my grandpa’s chair on stage to a bunch of wonderful and wiggly kids.
This year is vastly different than what I’ve experienced for over twenty years.
However, if I have learned anything in my sixty-five-plus years on this side of eternity, it’s this: things change.
Sometimes a little.
Sometimes a lot.
Sometimes change is easy.
Sometimes it is hard.
And I can only imagine how much might change over the next year of my life.
Will I say “goodbye” to more friends and family at unexpected funerals? (I officiated at seven funerals this past year.)
Will I gain new friends or lose some old ones?
Will I thrive in my new career as a coach and consultant or work as a greeter at Walmart?
Despite what may or may not come or what my circumstances might be, I do know change will come.
Change is inevitable, unavoidable, and inescapable.
That said, what I do when changes happen is up to me.
And here’s something else I’ve learned over the years: I can manage change, or change can manage me.
In other words, I can’t stop change, but I can determine in advance how I will face it when it happens.
I can go through change, or I can grow through it. Growth and ease rarely coexist.
I can be overwhelmed by complex changes or overcome challenges by choosing where I put my focus.
Regarding change, the poet Maya Angelou once wrote, “If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
As much as I try, I can’t control much of what is on the horizon, but I can control my outlook.
Years ago, I was a sailor. Sailing is generally peaceful, and being on the water is always a favorite pastime. When the winds changed, it didn’t do any good to complain. Instead, I adjusted the sails.
When your life is mildly, moderately, or massively altered in the coming year, rather than quitting or protesting, adjust your sails and keep moving.
Please change what you can (i.e., your perspective and attitude), and press on, my friend, press on.