I have been on a personal journey recently which has involved a number of “shifts” in my life — some great, some unexpected, some painful and some filled with anticipation.
When I was a child, my grandfather used to let me “drive” with him by sitting in the middle of the front seat of his pick-up truck and move the tall floor shifter into the right gear as he drove around town. It was great fun. I felt as though I was an important part of the process. I was necessary for us to get where we were going. He never seemed upset if I “grinded” the gears a little bit. The joy was to share the journey together, experience life and make memories.
Shifting, though, is more than merely a childhood memory. It seems that everyone is feeling both the tension and the exhilaration of the shifting times in our current culture. While change is always occurring, the speed, rate and impact of change is at an all-time high. Uncertainty, caution, confusion, along with excitement, hope and expectation, fill our days and our world as we struggle to navigate this gift called life.
We wonder the following: “What does it all mean?” “How do I feel about life?” “What do I stand for and believe?” “What is coming next?” “How do I live in the midst of all of this shifting?”
As a result of all of this, I was reflecting about shifting. Many people want to comment about all the shifting, tell others what they believe about life and seek to influence and control the shifts that are occurring in our world. It seems to me that all of this is a little misguided. As I was reading the Bible in John 8, I was reminded of a few truths that have helped to clarify my thoughts about living in a time and culture of shifts.
Here are some humble observations on how we can navigate shifts in our lives and in our world without getting caught up in the complexity of it all:
1) Focus on including rather than isolating.
2) Focus on living right rather than on being right.
3) Focus on loving rather than judging.
4) Focus on forgiveness rather than guilt.
In other words, don’t focus so much on the shifts that happen in life but how you will live in the midst of those shifts. Don’t tell everyone what to think about the shifts in life but live and be the difference in those shifts.
Shifts don’t happen to me or around me; shifts are opportunities to live for and represent God’s love in my life for everyone to see and experience. Keep on “shifting!”
The Rev. David A. Carter is the lead pastor at New Beginnings United Methodist Church in Delaware.