Down through the ages, enlightened souls have shared with us these truths drawn from their own realization. But we still expect, or at least hope, that the playful kitten will never grow into a lazy cat; that the vitality and dynamism of our youth will never fade; or that we’ll never face debilitation or death brought on by the ravages of time.
Yet in some recess of our awareness, we know that life’s changes are inevitable, and become distressed by the fact that things don’t stay the way we want. A few days ago a friend of mine at Ananda Village shared an inspiring story about how she’d dealt with change in her life.
She and her husband are about to move on from what they’ve been doing for many years—the training and support of new community residents—and I was praising her for the wonderful job they’d done. Suddenly she looked at me intently and asked, “Do you remember how we started working with new people? You asked us if we’d be interested in doing this, and I replied that I’d think about it. But inwardly I was thinking, ‘I’m dealing with some health challenges right now, and I really don’t feel up to taking on a new job. Besides, I like what I’m doing, and I don’t want to change. No, I’m not going to accept this position.’
“Later that day, as an afterthought, I added the prayer, ‘God, I really don’t want to do this, but if it’s the right thing, then You’ll just have to change me!’ And I left it at that.
“A few days later as I was meditating, a wave of deep peace enveloped me, and I said aloud with complete conviction, ‘I can do this job!’ We accepted, and for the next eighteen years, I loved every minute of it—from taking out the garbage to cleaning rooms.”
I thought about her story that day, and later realized how closely her words echoed the thoughts of Gyanamata, Paramhansa Yogananda’s saintly woman disciple. Gyanamata wrote in a letter, “Late one afternoon, I was kneeling in prayer in the chapel—I was thinking of something that was coming into my life that filled me with apprehension. I knew that it was not the will of God that I should be saved from the experience. Even at that moment it was moving toward me. Suddenly God told me the prayer He would listen to, and I said quickly: ‘Change no circumstance of my life. Change me.’ My prayer was instantly answered. I was changed.”
So what is the best way to deal with change? Follow the example of the wise: Give up fear of an unknown future. Don’t resist or run away from change, or pray that circumstances be different. Instead try to embrace the only change that is lasting: personal transformation. Once this becomes our goal, we can stand with steadiness on the shifting sands of time, and find the purpose and joy behind God’s will in our life.