Beginning on Easter Sunday till Pentecost, a period of 50 days, the Easter is the greatest feast in the Christian calendar, for “if Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain.” With the Resurrection of Christ, a new life is beginning; a new narrative commences for the disciples as the angel says, “do not be afraid, he has risen” (Mt.28: 5-6). The risen Jesus himself offers them peace and courage as he sends them forth to “go and tell my brethren” (10). The disciples who, overcome by the death of their Master and remained fearful behind the “closed doors” (Jn. 20:26), experienced the gaze of Jesus that penetrated deep into their hearts. A CHANGE occurs in their life, every doubt is resolved, the most beautiful expression of faith happens, “my Lord and my God” (28). A new path opens up in front of them as He puts them back on their feet and here indeed; the resurrection of the disciples is accomplished. Post-Easter is the time when change take place in our own lives – change of place, change of responsibility, change of people, change of community, change of atmosphere, change in conveniences and many more. It often has the feeling of displacement, put out of comfort zone, an intriguing sense of insecurity. For us who are committed to mission, being send forth constantly, such change is neither unusual nor unexpected; it is natural part of our life. Some reflection may be of help. Change in human life is inevitable and necessary; it is central to being human. Yet, we fear change because we are creatures of habit, we like certainty and predictability which gives us a sense of control. When we are faced with change, we are suddenly thrown into state of uncertainty and fear. “The oldest and strongest emotion of men is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft.
Change need not always have to culminate in fear and anxiety. It is perfectly normal to feel fear and be unsettled with change; it is quite human that at times we don’t feel totally in control of things and certain about the future. What is not healthy is that we respond to change inappropriately – resisting change, put off with it, failing to see the positive in it or ignoring the deeper and broader meaning of it. Integrated and awakened people will always manage their fear and focus on the new path of opportunity in order to adapt to change and bloom in the new environment. Change can be positive, disruptive, a welcome one, painful, put you out of control etc. Your reaction to change might vary from excitement to fear, resentment or a confused mixture of emotions. At times, you can’t stop change happening, but you can choose how to deal with it. Your attitude will determine how you turn it into a positive and progressive experience. With right attitude and mindset, we can discover opportunities in change and go on to make the best of it for the self as well as for others. How to cope up with change?
Acknowledge the change.
Understanding and accepting change is one of the first step towards managing change well. Change is necessary for growth, creativity, renewal and transformation. Acceptance involves positive strategies such as affirmation and mindfulness. “We accept reality as the bird accepts its wings: to fly…it is joyful recognition of all that is, in order to make the best of life as it is. Recognition and acceptance are in no way invitation to complacency, but the best invitation to personal growth and social change. (Remember), change is never forced, it occurs; growth promoting change is that which comes from self-acceptance” (C.G.Valles, SJ).
Face and replace fear with confidence.
Identify the fear, name it and check with your past experience. Ask, how did I mange it last time when I faced change? What attributes did I use to turn things into positive? Was I patient, rational, cheerful and generous, appreciative, adaptive, accommodative etc.? Clarify and define your personal values instead of yielding to fear. Recalling and reminding ourselves of our personal values can help us rise above the immediate threats and enable us to realize the worth of our personal identity. Face the world with a healthy sense of oneself as endowed with power to ‘Go forth’ with greater love than fear.
Be flexible and embrace change.
Be open and flexible to new challenges and tasks; approach the new environment and new people with an open attitude of learning, of stretching yourself towards broader horizon. Even if you do not like something new in the system, if you are flexible, people will generously collaborate with you. Embrace change as a doorway for continuous renewal and personal enrichment; to build up your reputation and image.
Communication and more communication.
Part of the fear of change is the unknown. Do not sit back and brood; share with your friends and others so as to understand their feelings. The support of others around is often what carries us through difficult or uncomfortable times. Raise constructive questions to mobilize meaningful information that will be helpful for understanding the new environment better. Be aware that there can be chance for distortion, misleading etc.
Create a sense of meaning.
Take time to acknowledge how valuable your attributes and skills are to the organization, the community, the new environment. Place yourself in the big picture and commit yourself to the realization of the common vision. One must be convinced of the fact that he/she is a participant in ONE BODY which is the Church of Christ, greater than self. It is a privilege and blessing to be so.
Handle stress and enhance resilience.
When stressed and hard-pressed we need to focus on being strong, fit and healthy. Resilience is a way of facing hard realities with resolve, a deep belief that life is meaningful and an uncanny ability to improvise -doing well with whatever is at hand. Focus on exercise, diet, deep breath, meditation, silence; smile, walking etc. can be beneficial.
Celebrating and Moving forward.
Accepting change does not mean giving up entirely on your former situation. You celebrate the past and move forward in the present. You will carry your valuable memories, relationships, skills and talents forward to the new environment as assets to be engaged in your new undertakings. Well harnessed, such assets will contribute to reap manifold fruits and bring you a greater sense of self-worth and joy in your commitment.
Ignatius Loyola spoke of freedom from attachments to places and possessions in order to be open to new and ever changing missions. For him mobility, speed and prompt response is simply “living with one foot raised”, always ready to move forward, driven by restless energy, with a sense of ‘magis’, always something more, something greater, greater than one self.
We are Easter people. For us resurrection is not an event after death but a reality of everyday life. Change is integral to our faith journey. We are called to leave behind the OLD and go far beyond and reach out to a new integration of self. It is a journey towards ‘kairos’, understood as opportunity or encounter. In the liturgical life of the Church, our journey through the seasons, with their different atmospheres and messages, enable us to filter the light and the shade of our experiences in our search for God, so also befriending change in everyday life enables us to realize that the spiritual life is a constant choice to let the challenges of life become an opportunity for renewal and conversion. This is possible only “through the deep realization that in life love and fear, joy and sorrow, tears and smiles are never found completely separate, they exist together” (H. Nouwen). It means the affirmation of the present, which becomes fully possible by reminiscing the past and expecting more to come in the future.