Insights with Emily: change means letting go

By Emily Salerno-Oswald

Once again, it’s the start of a new school year. The leaves have started to change, and crisp breezes signify the coming change of seasons.

New beginnings can be exciting but also overwhelming. It often feels like just when we’ve gotten the hang of one season of life, it’s time for a new one.

Time for us to start fresh and to be uncomfortable all over again. In the midst of so much change, it’s only natural to look for something to cling to that stays the same.

Maybe you’re a freshman and you’ve found a solid friend group, so you latch on to the new friends for dear life. You don’t want to lose those friends as quickly as you made them.

Maybe you’re a senior, and you feel you’ve figured out the job you want to pursue after graduation. You clutch the thought of that job being the only way to success, as you recall how long it took for you to settle on a profession.

The problem with clinging to external things for stability, such as plans, outcomes, situations and even relationships with others, is that they are all inevitably subject to change. However, when we cling to the One Who never changes, it’s okay if everything else around us does.

Speaking of discomfort, I’ve decided to try something new this semester by being a reader at Mass. I have never done this before, so my first time trying it was a bit intimidating.

It turns out there’s more to it than simply reading Scripture in front of the congregation.

One must also think about pacing, when to walk up to the sanctuary, when to bow and what the protocols are for walking up to the altar with the Book of Gospels and saying the Prayers of the Faithful. At first, it seems like a lot to keep track of.

I found it so striking that God has allowed us to be participants in His divine plan, despite our imperfections. In fact, he works with our imperfections and brings His glory by way of them.

Just as Jesus, Who is perfect, entered into our fallen world by becoming human, God invites us in our brokenness to be part of things that are so perfect, beautiful and beyond us.

He works through the humble words and actions that we use to witness to others. He worked through me by calling me to read the Word of God to a whole congregation of people even when I felt unqualified to do so.

Not only that, but Jesus states, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” (Matt 20:16).

That means, if you would disqualify yourself from proclaiming God’s Word, He would have you process into a church, triumphantly holding the Scriptures above your head. This is just how Jesus works.

So, how does my experience of being a Mass reader relate to the topic of how much life changes? I suppose it demonstrates that change is good for you; it’s how you grow.

But you often don’t know what you’re doing in the midst of it, and for that reason, it’s messy and disorganized. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

We are fortunate enough to have a good Creator who bends down to meet us as we are. God invites us close to Him and His divinity even in our smallness, our imperfection and our inability to ever really love Him as He deserves.

He makes Himself totally accessible in the Eucharist, just as He did on the cross, arms wide open, holding nothing back and inviting all unto Himself. Likewise, His Word is so accessible to us.

We rarely treat it with the amount of reverence it is due, compared to the profundity that it is. We often feel like God is silent while having the Word of God at our fingertips! How crazy is that?

What’s my point? Be present to the change that is before you now.

In the middle of the messiness, know that God holds you and appreciates your efforts no matter how discombobulated they are.

Don’t miss the change but also don’t cling to it for fear of it passing away. Let it come and go in God’s timing, knowing that God gives and takes away.

He has ordered all of your days before you even walk in them, and He is with you through every one of them.

Remember that detachment can be freeing. If you don’t need to hold onto any particular earthly thing, then your arms are open to receive almost anything.

You have the freedom to love as things come and go and the strength to remain steadfast through all of it.