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Time for Change
By Susan Hines-Brigger

Q U I C K S C A N

Letting Go in Order to Grow
Making Change Happen
For Teens: Work for Change
For Kids: If You Were President




It’s been a long couple of weeks for our family. And it’s not because of the weather or the post-holiday letdown. No, what’s challenging our family is the beginning of a new year—pacifier-free.

Riley, our youngest, recently turned three. Her dad and I decided that it was time for her to give up her pacifiers—or “binkies,” as she called them. Each night, she would count the binkies as she placed them on her fingers like rings. And if on that particular day she managed to locate more binkies than her fingers would hold, the extras would be strategically placed on her blanket.

When we first presented Riley with the idea of going binky-free, her dad and I explained that, with her third birthday looming, she was on the verge of becoming a big girl. And big girls, we said, don’t use binkies. She didn’t buy it at first, and when I thought about it, I can’t say I blamed her. I’d probably have a similar reaction if someone told me I should give up my caffeine. It was Riley’s first taste of the fact that, like it or not, life is one long lesson in learning to adapt to change.

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Letting Go in Order to Grow

This month, I bet a lot of us are thinking about change. Part of that could be because of the inauguration of Barack Obama, our newest president. But it’s also a pattern that seems to take place every January—new month, new year, new resolutions. For most of us, those changes focus on improving ourselves and our lives. It is about letting go of old ways and making changes in our lives.

A lot of times, those changes mean letting go of something that we are accustomed to or that brings us comfort. Maybe it’s food, a relationship, a grudge or a particular habit. But what they all have in common is the fact that in order to grow, we have to learn to let go. Sometimes, like for Riley, that change can be scary. Other times, it can be new and exciting.

In other words, being open to change often requires taking a leap of faith. Luckily, our faith teaches us that, as long as we have God on our side, everything will turn out all right. Of course, that doesn’t mean things will always turn out the way we hope. But it does mean that, no matter what, God will be with us.

As we begin this new year, here are some ways that you and your family can welcome change in your life with open arms:

Take stock. Take a look at your life and figure out if there are some things that you need to change. Do you want to find more time for prayer? Would you like to find a volunteer opportunity that can make a difference in someone’s life? Do some soul-searching and then commit to making those changes.

Make some family resolutions. Discuss what’s important to the members of your family. Then draw up some resolutions, such as trying to eat dinner together more regularly, attend Mass together, eat healthier, exercise more or just spend more time together. By engaging the whole family, the chances of success with your resolutions are much better.

Remind yourself. Sometimes what we need to make those changes in our lives is visual reminders. Here are a few quotes to cut out or write down and place somewhere where they can serve as an inspiration. Use them as gentle prods for prayer and reflection.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”—Mahatma Gandhi

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”—Anne Frank

“Things do not change, we change.” —Henry David Thoreau

“The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual—for it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.”—M. Scott Peck

As for Riley, I’m happy to report that she’s been binky-free for a while now, and she is happy to tell anyone who will listen what a big girl she is. Change is good.

Now we’re on to potty training. Prayers would be most appreciated.

 

This month, thousands of people will gather in our nation’s capital for two major events—the inauguration of our new president and the annual March for Life. At the heart of both of these events is the element of change. One is a change to a new administration, and the other is to make a change in our nation’s policy.

Are there events or issues in your life that you could be a part of to make a change? Gather some of your friends, find an issue that is near and dear to your hearts and you feel needs a change, and work for that change. It could be something as simple as your school’s uniform policy or as big as a change in your local government. You could also join groups at school that work for change, such as Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).

Barack Obama will be inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States this month. During the campaign, people talked a lot about how things needed to change. If you were to be elected president, what changes would you make in the world? Would you make sure every kid has enough food to eat? Would you focus on education? Come up with your ideas and then present them to your friends and family. Maybe they could help you find a way to work on some of those things long before you make it to the White House.

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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