Challenge, to choice, to change, to comfort
Alliteration. My honors English teacher taught me about it in high school. I always thought it was “cool” to use a single letter to link other concepts together. Change is a tough topic, though, if one is honest. It should be easy, because change happens all the time. But the frequency of occurrence doesn’t make it any easier to reason through or discuss. Change is tough. In fact, sometimes it is super tough. I’m finding some comfort in using a familiar concept to start this off.
Challenge. Life is filled with challenges. Challenges give us opportunities for growing and learning. We need to be challenged from time to time. It doesn’t mean we have to like it. When presented with a challenge, we have options. We can do nothing and keep things at status quo. No learning or growth will take place. This might be our comfort zone and a place we do not wish to leave. We will quickly learn that life will pass us by if we don’t grab onto a challenge from time to time.
In accepting a challenge, we have already begun to make a change. Learning and growing are present. We have choices to make. Our life experiences guide the choices we consider. There are many paths and options. Some will move us forward, while others might make us slide back. The option to “do over” is almost always available, too.
How lucky we are. If we are lucky, we find a choice that brings about some change. Over time, we hope that our changes lead us to places of comfort. It may take some time, but comfort is preferable to starting back with a new challenge.
When faced with challenges, I have always found the following scripture to be a guiding force in my own life. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
When my youngest two daughters were about to be born (they are twins), I was hospitalized an hour from home on bedrest with preterm labor. My mother came from her home to help with my older two daughters because my husband was on active duty with the army at Fort Riley.
One evening, about two weeks into the hospitalized bedrest, my husband was at the hospital visiting me. He was acting strange, and I asked him what was wrong. He said my mother had told him not to tell me. This made it all the more reason he needed to tell me what was going on. I, being persistent, got to the truth.
He had received orders to re-deploy to Iraq. Soon. It was uncertain if he would even be there when the babies arrived, let alone to help with them once it was time to return home. I was about to be the solo parent to four girls, ages premature twins to age 12. This took some time to process. Hello, challenge.
I knew I had some choices to make. Some made more sense than others. I could go it alone in Manhattan attempting to handle four children on my own. I could find someone to help me at home in Manhattan, but who?
I could move home to Hays with my own parents for the year while he was deployed. I’ll be honest--the thought of packing up our home and moving to Hays was not terribly appealing while on bedrest anticipating the premature arrival of our twin girls. Our friends and support systems were in Manhattan. The two older girls had known Manhattan for most their lives. Manhattan seemed to offer so much more. My parents and their help “back home” seemed like a setback. I swore at age 18 when I left Hays that I was never coming back except for visits. Hello, choices.
Hello, change. The twins arrived six weeks ahead of their due date in early June. They spent some time in the NICU and came home in mid-July. Their dad was able to be around for all of this, fortunately. My oldest daughter was about to start middle school in early August, so I needed to make a decision about where we were going to be. Matt’s orders had him leaving in September. We made a quick move to Hays. Reflecting back on the early days of being a momma to four girls, two of them premature, it’s all such a blur.
I barely remember packing and leaving. I know that somewhere along the way our one-year move turned into a much longer stay. We moved so my parents could help us. Sixteen years later, we now help them. Hello, change.
Change after change, after challenging changes and challenging choices. We found our comfort. The words from Jeremiah are always present. I have it posted in a variety of places. It continues to bring me comfort in times of challenge.
Becky Rogowski is the Generations in Faith Together Coordinator at First Presbyterian Church in Hays.