The Rector’s Study: Change is Hard

I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter. I love how it keeps me informed up to the minute (well, actually my brain loves the dopamine this produces, but that’s for another time), but I hate how, lately I am constantly on the verge of flinging my phone to the other side of the room in rage.

Like many people, it’s hard to know what to think about the way the world is spinning today. Whatever your opinion, it seems that many people think that the world seems mad, and no one seems to know how to stop it. We are interested in the hope and change that we are promised, but it never seems to happen, not really.

Ed Friedman, working from the theories of Murray Bowen, characterized any system, that is any group of people, whether a family, a church, or a society, as always seeking to remain in balance, or homeostasis. That’s the goal, to keep things even and calm, where disfunction and idiosyncrasies are not undone or healed so long as they are balanced.

Any system resists change. Change is the opposite of homeostasis. This doesn’t make systems bad or evil; it just make change hard. It also means that the system will privilege disfunction that it knows and has accounted for over healthier functioning that is unknown and unbalanced — even if that healthier functioning is better for the people in the system — us.

We have been confronted by this reality in the last several years. I lived in St. Louis in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer. Between that killing, the murder of Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, the victims of Sandy Hook, Pulse Night Club, and so many others, including Charleena Lyles, here in our own community. The homeostasis of our society includes an unnerving comfort with violence and death. We are continually trying to let go, but these are habits that are deeply engrained; we just don’t seem to be able to let go.

Change is difficult. It requires us to live the discomfort that the system feels when homeostasis is disrupted. In order for change to stick, we have to actively resist all the attempts by the system to bring us back to homeostasis. Change has to happen within us and through us, because systems will not change unless people choose change, over and over, day after day. It is up to us, with the help of the Holy Spirit to begin to work on the transformation that God has in mind: to tear down unjust structures, to live out of love instead of fear, to create a world that is vulnerable, tender and embracing of every one as a beloved child of God.

Church of the Redeemer

Community life at Redeemer centers on worship in the Episcopal tradition. Art and music vitally deepen this worship. Our faith expresses itself with service to people, locally to internationally.

Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. We are a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The Episcopal Church welcomes you.