“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did I sac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8)
He set off and had no idea where he was going.
Let’s pause and think about that for a second: Abraham was called to a place that he would later receive as his inheritance, but he didn’t know where he was going.
He didn’t know where he was going, but he picked up all his stuff (“all the possessions he had accumulated”) and set out. Left his home; left what he knew.
What do we do when we’re faced with change? Lately, I’ve been reading a book called The Sacred Enneagram (it’s good— get it), and I’ve been thinking (I mean, really thinking) about the fact that we are all wired up uniquely. I mean, it’s ridiculous how we’re all made up of the same stuff (blood, etc.), but each one of us is this complicated ball of yarn and fabric, totally unique in our responses and theories and coping mechanisms. Just thinking about how different you and I are reinforces my belief in a Perfect Creator who put all of this stuff together, and it also humbles me— when I think about how different my response to pain is from my husband’s, this thought immediately comes to mind: “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master servants stand or fall” (Romans 14:4). You and I are so different, how could we ever judge each other? I have no idea how you were designed to work— and even if I know, who am I to say if it’s right or wrong?
(It’s more complicated than that, I know, but you know what I mean)
So today, I’m looking at changes. Change happens all the time. Things break and get replaced. Rules and laws get amended. Politicians get elected and fired. Friends move. People pass on to glory before we do.
For me, I like change. I like new opportunities and a different view— change helps me think of new things; a change in perspective literally inspires a change in perspective for me. I grew up rearranging my bedroom when I got in trouble; Virginia Redding at Pine Street used to let me stay inside and rearrange her classroom when I felt overwhelmed (I didn’t know that about myself, but she did).
But here’s the wrench, what stresses me out: not knowing what to expect. I like change, but I like to know what the change is going to look like. I like to rearrange and reevaluate and repaint and reorganize. I like to meet new people and learn new things, but I like to know what the layout of the airplane is or what side of the hotel my room is on or where my table is going to be at a conference. I like change, but I like to know that I can escape if I need to. I like to know that I can hide if I need to.
Basically, I guess I like to be in control of the change happening around me.
Here’s where a smiley face emoji would go.
So today, this is what I’m talking to myself about: where is the good in the change happening all around us in our community? Because there is so much good to be had. Not good because you’re glad people are retiring or getting promoted or getting married or widowed or divorced, but good because it’s good to rotate the crops and take a bath and change light bulbs and oil filters and diapers and house colors and outfits.
And when it’s organizational change, we step up and welcome the new people. For the folks in our county, we’ve said goodbye to so many dear friends in the last four or five years, but here is what I hear from the people who are wiping their hands and looking up and down the hallway at new signs over doors and new rules regarding parking lots: when do the kids get here? What new tradition are we going to try to start or carry on this year? We’ll make sure there are people who still remember when Evelyn and Ginger didn’t go outside for the fire drill that time, and we’ll laugh at seniors who still can’t find the door to the basement (do not ask us, guys— everyone is lying to you. They will never, ever tell you).
And we will help our new principals, assistant principals, teachers, coaches, and students to be as successful as they can be. Because we love this town. Because we love Rockdale. Because we love these students. Because we know that, in a family, an individual’s success is the whole family’s success. But mostly, because we know that there is gold buried in this place. There is gold in each person-- the children and the grown-ups— who has been called to share space with us this year.
You might not know it, so I’ll just tell you: there are treasures in Rockdale county, and if you’re here it’s because He believes you’ve got some of what it takes to help us call forth this gold. There is a calling on this third smallest county in the state. There is something special about this place.
God has not moved. He has not changed His mind or His address. He has not changed your assignment. Every kid walking into each of our classrooms deserves to get what He called us to give. And I need to let go of sentimentality and fear and embrace this new season and the victories that are before us. And if I need to wear a name tag bigger than a name badge all year to make sure that we get to know each other like family, I’ll do it. My job is to help the newbies WIN. My job is to help my new principal WIN— to succeed in outrageous ways. I want to inspire our new superintendent to be so grateful to have arrived in this county that he actually cries at night before he goes to sleep.
We are being called out upon the water, Rockdale county teachers, parents, business owners, students, administrators, baristas, ministers, lawyers, judges, secretaries, landscapers, builders, coaches. We have been given charge of future versions of ourselves. They need our whole hearts.
We are being called UP to greatness. Let’s resist the fear of change and embrace the possibility of greatness. We have been given the honor to call forth the gold in the children in our community. Let’s not be distracted from that tremendous calling. Let’s lock arms and call it forth.