“Women Change”, declared the sign as I walked down the hall from the men’s change room at Hillcrest Pool just before 8:00 this morning. Groucho Marx could almost be heard to say “they soitenly do,” tapping his cigar. Relaxed and feeling good after a swim and hot tub, “odd sign,” I thought to myself. Glancing back, just to check where I had been, sure enough, the other sign proclaimed “Men Change.”
Just two words: no punctuation. The message of that sign turned over in my mind. Several meanings, other than the original intended message, occurred to me:
– command- “you, woman / man! Get changed!”
– description / declaration: Men and women are in the habit of changing their clothes.
– have you any change?
Waiting for my wife to change, I thought of the hope embodied in those two signs. Both men and women can, and do, change. We are not stuck in one stage or place.
For me this is a hope to which we look forward. We are not stuck in the troubles and trials of the moment. Change happens. Growth, learning, healing and development are all dynamics at work in people. I have no right to keep others in the place where I think they ‘belong’. I need to make allowance for the fact that people change. Even within aging, degeneration, disease and loss, we have seen people change and grace at work.
Much can be done through effort of will, work and self discipline, but there comes a limit to what we can change. There are the brick walls of life, against which no amount of pushing makes any difference. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other twelve-step programs refer to a Higher Power – a power greater than us – being the something needed when all our other resources are not sufficient.
As a Christian, I have a name for that higher power. God has made himself known in the person of Jesus. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ (Jesus), he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (ESV))
The message of Lent is looking to Jesus for the change that we cannot bring ourselves.