When I was pregnant with G, I switched from wearing grown-up, make your feet look nice dress shoes at work to tennis shoes (sneakers, whatever you call them). They are much more comfortable for all the standing and walking around the lab I do during the day. I never switched back.
This means that I spend hours and hours in my comfortable shoes. I wear them out fast, and end up having to replace them pretty often. Today is my first day in new pair, and it has started me thinking about change.
New shoes, at least for me, feel foreign. The arch is in the wrong place. The heels feel funny. They even squeak. I especially noticed the awkwardness of the shoes as I was driving to work. I drive a car with a standard transmission – mainly because I think it fun to drive. In our town, though, a standard transmission can requires some skill and finesse. I am especially referring to our hills and viaducts – stopping and then starting again, without rolling into the car behind you is a particular challenge. It may sound strange, but my feet know what they are doing – I can tell where the perfect clutch point is through my old shoes – but not through the new ones. Awkward and annoying.
Why am I telling you this boring story about my new footwear? I think it is an analogy for change in the church. Last year our church experienced some rather radical changes. It’s a little like new shoes – at first no one can tell whether the change is for the good or not. It will be a couple of days before I know whether these shoes will become old friends, or terrible torture devices causing blisters and bound for the trash can. Transition takes time in a church, too – much more time than a couple of days. I think we are still adapting to the changes we had last year. We are still trying to find our way through new structures and routines.
However, several months into these “new shoes” at church, we are beginning to see what is working and what is not. We lived with the shoes long enough for the awkwardness to end – long enough to celebrate what has changed for the good, and to begin to try to adjust what still needs fine tuning.
I think we can learn a couple of lessons from this, and learning lessons is important, because more change is coming.
- At first, all change feels awkward and wrong. We need to be patient with the change, enduring the squeaks and misplaced arches until the “shoes” start to fit.
- Speaking of patience, we need to realize that not everyone adapts to change at the speed that we do. Sometimes we will feel left behind, nursing blisters and mashed toes, and sometimes we need to understand that other people’s shoes are pinching more than ours are, or that their feet or more sensitive. Sometimes we need to know that the other person, in addition to wearing new shoes, may also have new glasses, a new hat, and has lost his gloves. All the new shoes are doing is making him more grumpy (yeah, I know, analogy carried too far).
- Sometimes people become so comfortable in the familiarity of their "old shoes" that they fail to notice that they've worn holes in the soles and that their bare toes are sticking out the ends. Maybe then it's time to lovingly point out to them that new shoes are a must to prevent frostbite, gangrene, and amputation.
- Once we’ve gotten over the first shock of new-ness, it’s time to evaluate. Is the change working? What can we do to make continued improvements? Necessary adjustments?
Note: I'm leaving for Florida tomorrow, and may not be able to post again until Monday evening. This is post #99; I've been posting daily since January 9 of this year. That's 74 days of straight posting, and I hate to miss a few days. Blogging -- especially, I think, when you do it everyday, opens your mind to what is around you -- like squeaky shoes.