We all face interesting life paradoxes as we experience being new and different every day, yet also the same. In my 29 years of working, driving, walking and living in our Juneau community, I have seen many changes, both good and bad. Yet with all of these changes, I can still look around me and experience the awe and wonder of the same mountains, valleys and sea that define this community. Much has changed, yet, much remains the same.
Some of us become so infatuated with newness and change that chaos results. We are never satisfied. We seek something different to appease our hunger for change. Our society spends a lot of energy and money trying to convince us that we are not satisfied with things as they are. Discontent is the all too frequent everyday reality.
Some of us are caught up in sameness. Change is viewed as a threat. There is a longing for things as they were. In all areas of life security is found in the familiar — in that which remains the same. The reality is change and sameness need not be at odds. Life without change is void of newness, just like a life of sameness closes the door to a vibrant life. Our struggle often centers on finding the wisdom to know when to hold on to sameness and when to embrace change.
The Bible invites us into both newness and sameness. For example, II Corinthians 5:17 says, “so if anything is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything has become new!” Faith invites us into newness. Yet Hebrews 13:8 reminds us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.” Just as the Bible gives us a vision for the blessed sameness of Christ’s love and forgiveness, so we live in newness that is life-changing and brings a whole new dimension to life.
Sameness can cause us to cling to behaviors, attitudes, opinions and stereotypes that may be very harmful to others and us. Likewise, change for the sake of change can cause us to leave behind the stability that is vital to life. As we struggle with the paradox of sameness and change, God gifts us with the wisdom to discern a healthy balance between the two.
Give some thought to where you stand in relationship to sameness and change in your life. How do contradictions get resolved in the living of your life? What is the same in your life that should remain the same? What is the new and different that enhances life? How can you incorporate newness and sameness into your decision making? In all these realities we have God’s promise to be with us always.
We face many paradoxes in today’s complicated world. We both struggle with and celebrate the implications of sameness and change every day of our lives. The times we are living in seem overwhelming. Thankfully God’s gift of hope gives us strength and sustenance that makes our wandering through the paradoxes of life possible. We have the assurance of hope as God continues to open doors for us as we experience what is new and different, as well as what remains the same. May we experience the gift of God’s presence as we struggle with the paradoxes of life.
• Pastor Larry Rorem is a retired Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor. Laura and Larry attend Resurrection Lutheran Church and are advocates for the least of these. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.