• Jess

Change Is A Face Love Wears: On Integrity




If we stop moving for a moment, there is a cacophony of damning voices speaking. About all the things we have lost and are still losing due to the pandemic. About the climate crisis and the humanitarian crises that seem to multiply. About who is wrong and who must be judged.


We are entreated to take action, to raise our voices, to say and do the right thing, to know who we are and what the right thing is. At the same time, we are warned by the example of others what can happen if we don't do or aren't seen to be doing what is deemed right. A climate of fear and judgment cannot create the conditions for safety, belonging and compassionate honesty.


In this moment, who I am is shifting and perhaps you are there with me, in the space of one life cycle and one self ending and a new one in process, feeling fragile and unfinished and utterly unknown. And so, I give you and I both permission to remember that we are allowed to change and to be unsure. Anyone who is completely certain in these times which shift like quicksand is enough of an anomaly to give me pause.


I believe there is a core thread within us that never changes, no matter our persona or our circumstances. You could call that soul or spirit. During those in between times, it can be comforting to lean into remembering that there is a part of us which is eternal and constant.


There is no prize for attempting to refuse change, for trying to become calcified and stagnant. For all their strength, rock faces are worn away by salt water. Old faces are erased and new ones take shape and they are both the same and gone simultaneously. So it is with us.


Staying the same, keeping ourselves and our world predictable and steady, small and regulated has been sold to us as being safe and trustworthy and dependable, a badge worth wearing because it promises validation and acceptance. We are allowed to question before we act, to change our hearts and minds, to take our time in reasoning and feeling, to not perform prescribed roles like barking seals simply because someone shines a spotlight on us.


If being honest about who we are and the values and ethical guidelines we use to govern ourselves costs us belonging, we never truly belonged there. If the cost of acceptance is to turn away from living a full and joyful life which is as expansive as you desire, you are right to decide not to pay it. That decision honours your soul.


You have changed. It was needed, even if it was unwanted. This does not make you inconstant or faithless, not flighty or unable to commit. It means you are alive, listening to the wisdom that your blood sings to you. The person you are becoming holds gifts which might have been obscured or inaccessible as the person you were before.


Where I live now is close to an oceanside cliff at the foot of mountains. When the weather turns, the fog rolls in and if I hadn't seen them with my own eyes, I wouldn't know the mountains were there. What we see in any given moment is a snapshot, not a complete picture. Even a complete picture changes.


With enough time, the fog clears and the mountains are wholly visible. What good would it do to accuse the mountains of deception or trickery because for a time, they were covered by fog? And yet, we can do this to ourselves and each other more than we realize.


Sometimes, our magnificence can be obscured by circumstance or self-doubt, by the whispers of those who fear we will succeed in the greatness we are attempting. Attempting to silence those voices is not a useful direction for our energy. We go on being mountains, under fog or clear skies.


You are changing in every moment. Cells shedding,scars fading, memories surfacing, tastes on your tongue dissolving, objects dancing in and out of vision before you. All living things change. It is the pulse of creation beating within us.


That is the gift of this life. If you live it well, you will once again be astonished. Your heart will break magnificently into different pieces and take a new shape. You will catch yourself turning away from harm and toward kindness. Your eyes will soften where once they were sharp and your understanding will gain the soft focus borne of patience and disappointment and the unceasing flame of hope.


Give yourself this gift and choose to stop holding yourself hostage to past selves. This is what the wisest part of you is asking-- for you to choose yourself. To choose freedom, because everything else you are yearning for is found through the open door of liberation.


How do we meet our transformations? There are many ways, some more helpful than others. Here are some of my tips for working with change.


1) Invite in curiosity.

Is there something for me to learn through this change? Is part of me excited to let something go? Is some aspect of me excited about continuing growth in a particular area or direction?


2) Appreciate past accomplishments.

For me, framing changes as a sign I've unlocked achievements/learned lessons/outgrown perspectives, beliefs and behaviours helps me face change with more courage and less fear. You have done hard things before. You have changed before. You have learned and you have triumphed.


3) Don't make a story about it.

Stay away from making meaning while you're still in the muck. When we're in a transition, it can be hard to know what they mean. Meaning often comes in retrospect, and when we try to make meaning midstream, we can start to cling to stories and behaviours which are untrue, unhelpful and only part of the larger process.


4) Do less.

Wherever possible, take unnecessary work or obligations off my plate. Growing a child or starting a business is hard work, but many other unrecognized or underappreciated transitions are just as valuable AND just as tiring. When we are transforming, busy work is not necessarily helpful.


5) Lean on your beloveds.


Ask for the support of those who have known and loved me through different seasons of my life. Sometimes, this can look like asking for confirmation that yes, even if you change, you will still be loveable, you will still be cared for and treasured. Your loveability is not conditional.


Just as you will become acquainted with who you are now, so will the ones who care for you, the ones who are in your corner, cheering you on and holding space for you.


You are worth meeting again and again, as many times as change visits you.




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