As a chemist, I've learned a fair amount about the history of science. Across time, there have been several huge milestones, where the scientific community has had a "paradigm shift." Early theories of the solar system held that the Sun orbits the Earth, but Copernicus discovered that the Earth and the other planets actually orbit the sun. Newton described gravitation as an attraction between two masses, while Einstein showed that gravity is actually an effect of "bending" in the fabric of space-time.
Each of these paradigm shifts was met with resistance, and the scientists who became proponents of the new theories were often treated with disdain and disgust by their peers, the clergy, and society as a whole. For new theories to be adopted by the scientific community, the "old guard" usually has to relinquish control of the establishment, and a new generation of scientists (ones not steeped in the old way of thinking) has to take over.
On Sunday morning, Karin talked about perspective. She pointed out that evaluating the present from the perspective of “how things used to be” can bring about fear, saying, "The stability that we’re looking for when we try and apply routine processes is never found in them. In fact, they never last.”
Change is hard. Humans are created with an ability to recognize patterns in the world, and to rely on the consistency of those patterns. In times of stability, this ability serves us well - it allows us to ignore what stays the same so that we can focus on the little changes as they happen. Every once in a while, though, that ability fails us. When all the patterns of "life as we know it" change at once, our minds and hearts are overwhelmed. While humans are amazingly adaptable, we're much better at gradual change than total upheavals.
A few years ago, I lost my job suddenly. My identity, my emotions, and most of my relationships were tied into that career. Because we'd just bought a new house, our finances hadn't settled into the "new normal" yet, and I found myself driven to find a new job, or at least a new occupation, as soon as possible. I was reeling.
In a telephone conversation, a dear friend and mentor stopped me in my tracks. "Stop talking. Stop planning. Just stop. Breathe. Right now, this is not what's important."
"What do you mean? I can't just sit unemployed; I have to figure out what's next! We just bought a house. I need to work!" I said.
"No," he said, "you don't have to work right now. You don't need to plan - you need to grieve. What just happened to you was a huge loss. It was traumatic. You're hurting. You can't think clearly in this state. Right now, the most important thing is for you to be still, breathe, and grieve. God will help you with all of the other stuff later, but to be healthy, you need to take care of your heart first."
It literally felt like a breath of fresh air. I'd been given permission to take care of myself and to be still. I took time to just rest. I slept a lot, I prayed, and sometimes I just stared into space and cried.
My friend was right - God brought me a job that was everything I needed. That new career has not only provided the money we needed, it has also given me hours and hours of additional time to spend with the Lord, to rest, to volunteer, and to take care of my family. Because I'd taken the time to grieve, I could meet the challenges of the "new normal" with more calm and joy than I ever could have expected.
Karin's discussion of perspective gave us Biblical tools to help us deal with the changes we're facing right now. Everything in our world is changing faster than it ever has, and we don't know when the "new normal" will take hold, much less what that will look like. In order for us to let go of what we're used to and move into our new reality, we're going to need to grieve. So when you feel yourself worrying, stressing, spinning, planning, and re-planning, take a moment for a deep breath. I often pray something like this: "Lord, this is hard. Carry me through this moment. Give me hope and perseverance." He knows what you need, and He's right here with you. Allow yourself to be comforted in your grieving so that you can emerge from every big and little crisis with newfound joy.