change – verb | \ˈchānj\

: to become different
: to make (someone or something) different
: to become something else

When I walked into the kitchen just now to get a few more spoonfuls of the watermelon Steve chopped up over the weekend, I noticed out the window a branch of leaves that has turned burnt orange. I’m scooping out the sweet taste of summer while the deep colors of fall are flapping in the breeze. I don’t know if I’m ready.

On Saturday while Steve and I walked to the farmer’s market, we talked about how cool it had been the evening before, and we noticed other signs of the changing seasons.

“Somewhere, I saw a whole row of trees turning,” I told him. Then on second thought, “Or maybe I just dreamed that.” Because for the life of me, I couldn’t remember where I’d been when I noticed such a thing. So it seems all the way down to the subconscious level I’m thinking about what’s to come.

Having children in school in the northern western hemisphere means autumn is a beginning. We talk about the boys starting school on Thursday; we’ll probably post pictures of their first day on Facebook; they will have new teachers. Practically speaking for us and many other families, fall also means a return: back to bedtimes and homework and afterschool activities. During the summer, our schedule is more a non-schedule, the exceptions more the rule. Back to school means a return to some amount of the routine and predictability we all need.

Either way, whether what we are facing is new or a renewal, it all amounts to change.

I’ve been thinking a lot about change. That old adage, “the more things change, the more things stay the same,” feels true inasmuch as we just get used to a lot of change after a while. But sometimes, things change so much—we change so much—that we hardly recognize our lives, ourselves.

From time to time, I’ll have occasion to go back and read through old journals or academic papers for a writing project I’m working on. Sometimes, I skim through old blog posts and online articles. And while I remember the woman writing those, I don’t recognize her much when I look in the mirror.

Sometimes that’s good. I could be awfully self-righteous and painfully impulsive and incredibly naive back in my younger years. Whatever wisdom I have earned over the years has calmed me down and caused me to move more slowly and deliberately than I used to.

But sometimes, when I’m experiencing all the changes that happen in life, I miss the me who seemed to roll with the punches, who was more flexible and open-minded, who would walk two miles when asked to go one.


But the reality is, she wanted to change, too, even in her self-righteousness. Those journals are filled with enough turmoil and angst that I’m hard pressed to grow too sentimental toward that younger me. And is any of us ever happy with the whole of who we are? Should we be?

Many days, I thank God for change, which really is just a new opportunity for us to become fully the people we were made to be, even when it’s painful or boring or downright embarrassing. I may not always be comfortable with change, but I’m not satisfied with leaving things the same either.

As our family adjusts to new bus schedules and teachers and practices, as we watch the leaves turn and the temperatures cool, and as the sun begins to rise a little later and sink a little earlier, may the biggest change be the one that happens in me, as I learn to love more fully, forgive more easily, and laugh more loudly than ever before.

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Photo by Giovanni Orlando, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.