I am a creature of habit, I love traditions and repetition. I blame my family and upbringing mostly. I never moved as a child, not even houses, I never changed schools, in fact I wore the same outfit to school for twelve years (well i mean not the exact same outfit, I grew like most children, but khaki pants and a polo as a uniform, not a whole lot of variety there). However, of all the routines and constants in my childhood, holiday traditions are probably the reason I truly became addicted to sameness. I lie somewhere around number 14 or 15 in the list of my grandma’s 32 grandchildren (not including great grandkids), and because five of my grandma’s six children live within walking distance of one another, family gatherings are rarely small. To help tame the crazy we like to keep things routine, we title these routines “traditions”, and we require one another to stick to them. Over the years our list of traditions has grown rather long; the pink salad is made with strawberry jello, never cherry, soup night is held at Aunt Jen’s house, the girls have a New Year weekend up at the cabin, and of course the infamous stolen and re-gifted clock, just to name a few. None of these traditions are necessarily the simplest way, the most efficient, or even the way everyone likes, but they are tradition and we like that, so we keep them.
As I’ve gotten older and the family continues to grow, we have tried to be more flexible and accepting of the fact that traditions evolve. For the majority however, even embracing the smallest of change is a challenge. I suppose when it comes to the holidays, honoring tradition and avoiding change is not necessarily that big of a deal; so we like grandma’s green bean casserole best, that doesn’t really harm anyone right? The problem however, is that my love for familiarity and constant is not satisfied by holiday traditions and it leaks into other areas of my life. I find myself shopping at the same places, choosing the same seat or parking spot, ordering the same coffee from starbucks, the list is endless. There is comfort in sameness, a sense of relief in routine. Change on the other hand, especially for someone like myself is uncomfortable.
Like most businesses and organizations we have a mission statement here at camp. Ours says that Redwood Glen is devoted to creating a space where change is possible. Many of my days are spent purposefully making people uncomfortable, shaking up their routines, and taking them beyond their comfort zones. I have to laugh at this, that God placed a person like myself, someone who craves tradition and familiarity, to work at camp. But not just any camp, this camp, a place where change is one of our core goals. But why does camp put so much value on this idea? Why is change so necessary in life? Why can’t we stay put in the normalcy of life where things are comfortable?
Well lucky for all of you the other day I read a post from a fellow blogger who is much wiser than I am, and who just happened to be writing on a similar topic. This is what she said:
“From the beginning of time until now He (God)
has asked His children to walk out in faith with Him.
To Follow Him into the land of unknown.
To press forward through tribulation.
To stop holding on to what is comfortable.
To be faithful to Him even though we don’t know where He will take us next.”
All throughout scripture, God calls his followers to step out in faith, to make huge life adjustments, and trust that He will lead the way. I think of Noah with his family and the enormous changes that must have come with life after the flood, or Moses and the Israelites wandering in an unfamiliar wilderness, and then of course there are the disciples of Jesus, for whom change was the only constant in their lives. In all of these stories, it is the seasons of change where God is seen moving, where He is truly glorified. The times when there is no routine to follow or memory to recall that will help get you through, that is when God can move. Change is so vital for our lives because it is where growth and development happens.
I wish I could say that I am one of those Christ followers who deals with change and the uncertainty of God’s plan with grace and elegance. Change is difficult and the truth however, is that I am usually the one throwing a fit or pouting because my way was going just fine. Do not get me wrong, sometimes life is routine and that’s where God has you, but i think Francis Chan says it perfectly in his book Forgotten God: Reversing our tragic neglect of the Holy Spirit when he suggests that, “It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that He didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.” We like sameness because it is comfortable, but the assurance that it brings is only false hope. Embracing change and trusting that God has a perfect and holy plan allows Him to do incredible things in and through your life.
So enjoy the holidays that are quickly upon us, take advantage of the traditions your friends and families have established. But remember, when God asks you to make a change, no matter how large or small, cling to Him, accept the adventure, and allow Him to be glorified.