My Hair is Falling Out and Other Ways of Dealing with Change

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I was recently in an Uber going to the airport and engaged my driver, a tech person who had been laid off recently, in a conversation about his work and plans.  He extolled the wonders of disruption as a value, an unmitigated good.  It was also the case that his personal life had been filled with disruptive change.

Is disruption an unmitigated good?  Is the upset of order usually creative or is it just destructive?  What makes the difference?

My most profound recent experience of change was engaging in the bishop election in Newark. What struck me as I was going through it and in its aftermath was my physical response to the emotional and spiritual change that was in the offing.  My hair started falling out.  Not big clumps, but lots of individual strands over the months.  My hair dresser noticed it and commented; I got tests because I thought my thyroid might be out of whack.  But as time went on, I realized my coming baldness (that’s what I feared), was connected to my anxiety about change…even though elements of the prospect were exciting.

In the Bible, there is an ambivalence about change.  For example, in Exodus we are told that God considered wiping out the children of Israel because of their faithlessness and grumbling, but Moses pleaded with God and the Holy One had a change of mind.  In much of the Bible there is an insistence that God does not change.  Similarly, there is exhortation for human beings to repent, which is to change from evil and to choose good, but there is also commandment to stay steadfast—to not change.

There are many changes in our culture and at St. Stephen’s right now.  We are embarking on the next stage of our capital campaign.  We are saying good bye to staff we have valued and loved:  Bob Hymson our Director of Operations and Finance, has taken a position in Austin; Toni Morales-Awobokun, our Director of Communication and Growth will be moving to India and leaving us in mid-September.  We are rethinking our Christian Formation offerings and space.  We are beginning to implement the Strategic Plan and reorganizing our ministries to support it.  People are leaving St. Stephen’s and new folks are joining.  It is a lot!

While our collective hair may not be falling out, it is true that some or many of will not experience these disruptions good.  Some of them will not be, but we won’t know until we have time to live into the changes and weigh their effects.  Others of us thrive on adventure and experimentation.  The Gospel metric that is most important is do the changes bear fruit? 

So as we head into the fall and a new year of learning, let’s watch for the buds of fruit and for the hair balls.  May we bear with one another in love in the bonds of peace.

- The Reverend Lisa Hunt