Andrew Suderman teaches theology, peace and mission at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He also serves as secretary of Mennonite World Conference’s Peace Commission. Andrew […]
Hannah Heinzekehr is Executive Director of The Mennonite. This article appeared as the November 2017 editorial in The Mennonite magazine.
I have a specific memory of sitting with friends at a park roughly a year after we graduated from college. Collectively, the year between graduation and our gathering had been full of job searches, weddings, break-ups, cross-country moves, moves back home, service placements, internships, student loan payments, and many joys and struggles of building community for the first time in roles and places that were separate from school.
I can remember saying to my friends, “Won’t it be nice when all this change and transition slows down? Can you imagine?”
At that time, adulthood seemed like a far off status that we would reach someday and we would know that we had arrived because things would feel settled. We’d have a Career (with a capital ‘C’), we’d be partnered with 2.5 kids and live in a house that we owned. I exaggerate, but hopefully you get the picture.
As it turns out, I continue to learn that, as cliché as it sounds, the only constant in our lives is change.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Each of us will experience a variety of types of transition throughout each of our lives. Some will be joy-filled, some will be cause for lament and others will be a mixed bag. Some will happen without much thought and others will be the product of years of processing and wrestling. Some will be chosen and others may feel like they are forced upon us. Some will be personal transitions and others will affect the communities we are a part of.
We cannot choose whether or not we will experience seasons of transition, but we can choose how we understand and respond to each of these change processes. I recently attended a seminar on resilience. One of the invitations that the speaker gave was for each of us to reflect on the worry stories that we tell ourselves and that we hear in our organizations and to then think about how we might be able to better understand and possibly reframe that narrative.
Mennonite Church USA is also in a season of transition. The Future Church Summit and now the newly-launched Journey Forward could be seen as large-group transition processes. So perhaps it might behoove us to ask: What are the worry stories that we are telling in Mennonite Church USA right now? And how might these worries or transitions—chosen or not—be an opportunity beckoning us forward?
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