The Realm of 'Intentional Change.'
It seems that there are two kinds of change…unintentional and intentional.
Most of us grow comfortable with our routines, our roles, our place in a group or community, our particular church, specific people, and the kind of work we do.
When unintentional change comes knocking we do not always want to open our door very wide to let it in, but we view it as a part of life. Sometimes this kind of change means altering our set routines, relationships or even a job that we depend on. It can seep into health issues and cause us to have to do things differently. Diet. Exercise. New territory we might not feel drawn to explore.
Dealing with these kind of changes are difficult but we either find ways to make it work for the positive, or we suffer through it. Either way, down the road, we go with it and learn something and then adapt. That is one of the incredible capacities of being human.
Then there is intentional change. When one ‘turns over the apple cart’ so to speak, by initiating change intentionally.
Sometimes it happens when a sense of dissatisfaction overtakes us in our station in life or we feel we have missed our boat. Other times it is when a new opportunity seems irresistible toward a long awaited change.
Mainly, we want to explore, try new things, seek out to become who we truly are and never aspired to. Find ourselves.
The first yearning for ‘intentional change’ usually occurs when one exits puberty and enters adulthood. An eighteen or nineteen year old, for instance, might decide to quit college after the first year to see what else is out there to nourish his or her talents and endeavors. Then return with new enthusiasm, knowing what their true calling is. It is a part of finding oneself, of growing up. Yet unfortunately, this is often discouraged. We doubt the ability of the young seeker to return to his or her studies. To act responsibly. To choose the right path in life because exploration can mean change, and change, we’ve been taught, is risky.
The risk is greater, it seems, when one is denied the opportunity to do so at the appropriate time and is forced to walk a path pre-chosen perhaps by family expectations or traditions. Or by those who live vicariously through their offspring, wanting them to pursue what they themselves never had the chance to.
This kind of prevention of intentional change for a young person results in many scenarios later in life…
There's the housewife who finds a part time job while her children are off at school to finally experience being able to earn money and find herself in a role other than motherhood and as a spouse. Although she loves being a mom and wife, she enjoys wearing new clothing for her job and feels a fuller sense of personal accomplishment which doesn’t go over big with family or friends who disapprove of working moms. She struggles with her new elation due to feelings of guilt.
A highly paid CEO suddenly quits his position, much to the shock of his family and peers, to go off alone to the quiet of the mountains or the beach, where Mother Nature and his Creator fill the soul with a richness that all the success ever experienced could not bring. He eventually reenters the business world with a sense of regret that he hadn’t chosen his own dream outside the world of competition, meetings and twelve hour days.
A long time upstanding member of his or her church might ‘come out’ to the community by announcing that he or she is gay to shed the oppression of a façade and experience the liberation of being true to how he or she was created. It took until middle age to feel free from a life of secrecy.
A graduate from a prestigious university tosses his or her business degree aside to pursue the world of the arts to satisfy a stronger calling, despite the promised financial status being left behind. The attitude being, it’s never too late and this is what I really wanted to do.
These ‘intentional’ changes can bring with them gossip, the shaking of heads, rejection, misunderstandings in families and among peers, as well as jealousy.
When we veer off the traditional path that most travel, happily or not, we risk opinion, uninvited advice, judgment and abandonment by those who remain on that path.
The good news is that there is such a thing as ‘responsible intentional change.’ Easing into who we truly are while maintaining what we have already aspired to. The key is not to burn our bridges. Not to be become opportunists in order to get to our truth. To embrace all those who have come before, while we reach toward those who are ahead, ready to help us attain the change we desire.
Many of us do not find who we truly are until half a century or more into the journey. Others know it much sooner and seek out their truth uphill all the way, until they reach their inner peace and contentment with self and work.
‘Intentional change,’ early on, can be paramount to one’s happiness down the road. And if that isn’t possible, the courage to do so later can mean great fulfillment for the remainder of the ride.
Carving out niches of time in the midst of where we are in life right now, to continue rediscovering ourselves, is 'responsible intentional change.' It’s gradual and ongoing. No matter our station in life, the following quote says it so well…