Does it mat­ter how I re­spond to change?

The Covington News - - LOCAL - B. WI­LEY STEPHENS COLUM­NIST B. Wi­ley Stephens is a re­tired United Methodist Min­is­ter and au­thor who now re­sides in Cov­ing­ton.

Pogo, a car­toon char­ac­ter cre­ated by car­toon­ist Walt Kelly, fa­mously said, “We have met the en­emy and he is us.” While there are “en­e­mies” to our suc­cess and se­cu­rity, beyond who we are, much of our strug­gle is of our own cre­ation. In our daily lives and in our com­mu­nity, many of our strug­gles come from our own ac­tions. We can’t blame oth­ers. Change is a re­al­ity of all of life but how we re­spond is in our con­trol.

Each day brings to us new chal­lenges that we must deal with. That is true on a com­mu­nity ba­sis as well as on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis. We need to be able to re­spond in a way that moves us for­ward in the best di­rec­tion.

We rob our­selves of great op­por­tu­nity when we don’t think “out­side of the box.” While what worked in the past may have been good for its time, it may not be ad­e­quate for to­day’s chal­lenges. I am re­minded of two men fish­ing around a pond. The older fish­er­man no­ticed the younger throw­ing back about ev­ery other fish. The younger fish­er­man would catch a fish, hold it up to his hand, and if big­ger throw it back, and if smaller keep it. The older man asked the younger man why he was mak­ing the se­lec- tions he was mak­ing. The younger man replied, “It is be­cause I only have a nine inch fry­ing pan.”

We run the risk of rob­bing from our fu­ture when we are not will­ing to adapt to the changes around us. We have to chal­lenge the re­stric­tions to al­low for the growth and change that will bring a brighter to­mor­row. There comes those times that we need a “larger fry­ing pan.” What has al­ways worked may need to be changed for the new world we find our­selves in.

Too many times we are guilty of fo­cus­ing on the prob­lem in­stead of the so­lu­tion. Of con­vinc­ing our­selves of all the rea­sons we can­not solve a prob­lem in­stead of seek­ing to find the ways we can. Our re­fusal to let go of the past and seize the fu­ture may block the way for­ward.

This doesn’t mean ev­ery­thing changes. But we need to be se­lec­tive in what we hold on to and what we reach for.

One has to be will­ing to fail at some times in or­der to find what we can ac­com­plish. A lit­tle boy was throw­ing a ball up and swing­ing a bat at the ball when his fa­ther walked up. The boy said, “Watch me, I am hit­ting them a mile.” As his dad watched, the son tossed the ball, took a swing and missed. He yelled “Strike one.” He tossed the ball again, missed again, and yelled “Strike two.”

“Don’t worry” he said, “it only takes one hit to get the job done, and I am go­ing to re­ally smash this next pitch.” He threw the ball up, swung and missed again. It was strike three. The boy turned to his Dad, “Gee I must be a pitcher.” One key to the fu­ture of growth is be open to see­ing our­selves and oth­ers in new ways.

An­other key to suc­cess is the will­ing­ness to try. It may not turn out the way we first imag­ined but we may find an­other way even bet­ter. The key is be open to the pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Take a men­tal in­ven­tory of your life. While many things we trea­sure are still a part of our world, change has come to some ar­eas for all of us. And what is true for in­di­vid­u­als is true for com­mu­ni­ties. Are we will­ing to try a bet­ter way? Are we will­ing to risk in or­der to gain?

Many times we don’t have to look fur­ther than the mir­ror to see who the “en­emy” is. Pogo spoke with a lot of wis­dom. We need to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity for what we can do. We need the courage to act.

Change is in­evitable. How we re­spond to it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity. The fu­ture we leave those who fol­low us will be shaped by how we live to­day.

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