Leveling the Playing Field

"Things are changing. I cannot say how or what form they shall take eventually, but the change is the thing. It is what makes me feel that all things are possible."
~ Gemma Doyle, Rebel Angels p. 532 Yes, I just finished book 2 and loved it.

In my limited work with families and through talking with friends and relatives, I've come to believe that some of the most challenging times are those of transition and change. We get used to doing things a certain way: our family rules, processes, and expectations whether spoken or underlying. When something significant changes (good or bad. i.e., death, changes in health, birth of a baby, change of employment) oftentimes we find ourselves either scrambling to restore balance or confused because we aren't conscious of the significance of the change and don't know why we aren't happy.

I was raised in a baseball family, spending a lot of time at the ball park watching city/little league games, hearing about the game, or watching long (and boring) innings on TV. I watched my brothers take grounder for hours on end, my dad coaching them to be quick and predict where the ball would go to ensure their glove was in the right spot. I also remember them voicing frustration about how the baseball field in high school was used by the football team in the off-season for drills. This was a problem, because the football cleats tore up the field so when Spring came around, it became impossible to predict where a grounder would go, as the ball would often hit an invisible hole and bounce unexpectedly.

There are a couple options in this scenario. First, you can tear up the grass and level the field, re-sod and wait for it to be ready to play on again, thus restoring the field to the way it was before. The first option takes a lot of energy keeping things the way they were, avoiding change and getting stuck in a rigid way of doing things. Second, you can learn how to play on this new field. The second option takes a lot of patience and practice--taking hours of grounders knowing that at first, a lot of balls will miss your glove and errors will start racking up. However, as time goes on and you are quick on your feet and expect the unexpected, you will learn how to negotiate this new playing field and experience a lot of personal growth, becoming a better player than you were before. But, be aware that in the off-season, the football team is going to practice on your field and make a whole new field for you to play on in the Spring that you'll need to re-learn and re-negotiate.

Maybe you can already see where I'm going with this. Maybe this metaphor won't be meaningful for everyone. Life is full of change and we have endless options of how we want to look at that change. The key, I believe, is being aware of how significant change is in our lives. A promotion may be a good thing, but is still change, adds stress and requires a family to re-negotiate life together. It's so important to talk about how family dynamics, processes, and rules need will to be updated to enable success--a win on the new field. This will take hours of practice until, as a family, those unexpected bounces are easily managed.

I was talking to a friend yesterday on the ski lift (one of the best places for a deep and quick conversation) about how our generation has collectively changed the dynamic of the LDS single and how the line of demarcation for age at marriage has moved up with us as we remain unmarried. We talked about the possible "whys". He mentioned that he thinks it's because we see so much divorce around us, our parents, family members, colleagues, and even best friends. That spurred thoughts in my head about how we can prevent this phenomenon ever increasing in prevelance. I am definitely not an expert in the area of marriage and how it works, so please take this with a grain of salt. I think that it comes down to being able to be quick on your feet and negotiate change. Marriage is one of the biggest changes we face in life, right? Two people who in essence speak different languages and come from different countries, coming together to create a life together. We can either choose to create a whole new language together, new traditions, a new culture OR become bilingual--and I mean really bilingual. Like the missionary who comes to love the new land and people even more than he loves himself, his own land and culture and even reads his scriptures and prays in the new language for the rest of his life. I don't know, but it makes sense to me. BOTH partners leaving the "home of their parents" and cleaving to each other and the life they create together.

How we negotiate change is all a choice and it's totally up to us.


Jenn Daniels said...

While working on Prop 102 (that's Prop 8 to CA) I heard it said that the best thing we can do to promote marriage is to stay married - that means work at it, stick it out, don't take the easy way out. I hope our LDS generation takes that to heart. It's all part of fielding those grounders - loved the metaphor!

charity said...

Absolutely! While canvassing for Prop 8 in Newport that was one of the things I thought a lot about. How can we argue that marriage is sacred if we don't treat it as sacred?

Krista said...

great post charity! and great to be in touch again and catch up on your lovely life. :)