September is a month of change and transition. Summer is ending and the fall is beginning. The new Church year begins September 1, and school is back in session. Whether we are working or studying, we can all identify with a feeling of change this time of year.
So how do we hold on to some feeling of stability and normalcy in the midst of a move, a new school year, or whatever transition we are experiencing?
1. Find community
When I went off to college, I suddenly became a social butterfly. I wanted to get to know everyone, to make connections, to find community. I think undergirding that gut instinct to make friends and community is to avoid isolation and to find support in the midst of change. So I joined clubs and I made a connection with the local Orthodox community. This gave me a support system, and helped make an otherwise unfamiliar place a home.
So whether or not you stayed connected this summer, you can make that connection today. All of us - regardless of how independent or adventure-loving - eventually will feel the pangs of home-sickness or loneliness. Maybe we are natural introverts, and it’s not always the easiest for us to reach out and make connections. The good news is that there will always be room for you in the nearest Orthodox community for you to find peace and home.
Finding community helps us weather the changes that life brings us, and keeps us rooted in healthy relationships.
2. Take root in Christ
Christ is our rock, He is the one we need to stay connected to for support. Not all of us handle change very well, so it can come as a relief that there’s at least something or Someone Who is always there for us and Who never changes: Jesus Christ.
The “how” of it all we all know: attend the Liturgy, pray, read the Bible. But sometimes that can seem so simple that we don’t do it. Or, we do pray and read Scripture but we still aren’t relying on Him to guide us and to keep us afloat when life gets choppy. So when we say “take root in Christ” we mean choose today to let Christ guide you and protect you. Bring Christ into important decisions, ask Him for peace in your day and for His presence when you feel alone.
If we are rooted in Christ, none of life’s changes or transitions can knock us down.
We all need to rediscover our love for exploration. When life gets busy, we make excuses that we don’t have time for this or that. But the reality is, we always have time for what we find most pressing or most important. So whether we have just moved to a new place, or if we are still in our same job, find a way to explore.
During seminary, some friends and I would go out for “Safari Sunday” to get to know Boston. After church, we would set aside studying for the afternoon to spend some quality time just exploring our new home. And when life became a bit too scheduled, we would have a “Sabbatical Saturday” (yes, we do like alliteration) so at least we could get off campus and study at a new library. Exploring Boston helped us find our place in a new and different city.
Exploring where we live, even if it’s just visiting a new park or a different restaurant, grants us some stability when we feel like everything else is changing around us.
Sometimes, we crave change and we have to get comfortable with stability but most of the time, change disrupts our serenity, and we need reminders that there is something left that is stable in our life. Community, Christ, and exploring can help us find our footing during a time of change and instability.
How do you handle change and transition? What role have community and prayer played in helping you to be at peace during a challenging time? When was the last time you explored where you live?
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Sam is the Pastoral Assistant at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He grew up in Powhatan, Virginia and studied International Affairs and Spanish at James Madison University. Sam received his MDiv from Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in 2013. He loves food, languages and good coffee.
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