Walking Our Faith: How to cope with seasons of change
Walking Our Faith
The other day, I captured a photo of the first yellow leaves on an aspen tree surrounded by the green leaves of summer. These yellow leaves were the first hint of the inevitable change heralded at this time of year as we move from late summer into early autumn. These first signs of seasonal change are like a treasure hunt, and I find myself looking for the first red leaves on the ground cover as I step outside to my car each morning.
It seems like this is also a season for change in our community. Some of my friends, who are very dear to me and have been instrumental in my finding a place of community when I first arrived in Breckenridge seven years ago, have now decided to move away to be closer to family as they age.
Last weekend, I attended a memorial service for Carl Rasmussen hosted by his wife of 63 years, Barbara Rasmussen. It was a beautiful service. Barb and her children perfectly captured Carl’s charming personality and love of the outdoors by sharing small anecdotes from his life.
Barb was one of the first people who welcomed me to Breckenridge. She was a host at Saint Mary’s Saturday evening Mass. She always made sure to say “hello” when I arrived and made sure to tell me when she noticed I had skipped Mass for a couple weeks. We always shared a quick kiss and then an “I love you,” which made me feel as if not only Saint Mary’s but also Breckenridge was a place I could finally call home.
But with Carl’s passing, Barb is looking for her own next home in a retirement community in the Denver area.
Another one of my earliest Breckenridge friends is Pat. During the first year and a half I lived in Breckenridge, I dealt with a very serious bout of depression, and Pat was a stalwart friend who invited me to her house for dinner and insisted that I get out of my own home every Wednesday to go to knitting group. She knew that that might be the only time I would leave the house during the week.
Likewise, she was the one who pushed me to interview for the job I now have at St. John’s, again to get me out of the house and around other people. I can truly say Pat saved my life through her efforts.
But now Pat and her husband, Vern, will be soon leaving the beautiful home they built in Breckenridge to move back to Iowa to be closer to family.
As I’ve chronicled over the past several weeks, my mother has moved to Breckenridge to live with me as she can no longer live alone. We are still looking for an apartment or home with a main floor bedroom to move into because Mom cannot navigate the stairs that lead to the upstairs bedrooms in my apartment, and she is currently sleeping on the living room couch. I also know that as much as she is happy to live with me (and I with her), she faces the adjustment of leaving friends behind in Florida.
These are only a few of the stories that have closely touched my life during this season of change. I’m certain you have your own because it seems like we are in a period of upheaval with friends leaving or perhaps our own lives changing in some fundamental way with new jobs or new health challenges.
Change can be very exciting as we look forward to new friends to meet and new places to explore. In this case, periods of change can be full of optimism and excitement.
In the same moment, they can also give us feelings of uncertainty or anxiety, especially if we face these changes alone or if these changes mean leaving familiar friends to move someplace where we don’t know many people.
So how are we best to cope with change? The first place that helped me to feel at home was finding a church community, which can function as a microcosm of your larger community. It is a place where you might be lucky enough to see the same friendly faces week after week, find a place where you can become involved in activities that speak to your heart and which you find meaningful, and find like-minded individuals who can become new friends.
On a spiritual level, upheavals in our lives and surroundings are great opportunities to draw closer to God and remember that God is the Alpha and Omega. He knows the beginning of our journey, and he knows the end.
Nothing we are facing is a mystery to God. While uncertainty might cause us to feel anxious, this is exactly the time to turn to God and ask for his strength and wisdom to guide us. Let’s ask God to hold us near his heart and remind us that we are his beloved children, and for this reason, we are never alone, and we are always loved.
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.’” — Isaiah 41:13
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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