malcolm marler

on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Month: August 2011

Adjusting to Change

This is the seventeenth in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

“He Said.” . . . by Malcolm

One of the lessons Mary and I learned from our recent two week spontaneous road trip is that we can’t really know what most things will be like until we get there.

Mary has settled into her dorm room in Alexandria, attending classes, learning her way around a new city, and making new friends which she has such a gift in doing.  She has discovered many things are better than she had originally imagined, while others call for a new plan.

Brendan packed his car this weekend and moved into his apartment for his junior year at Auburn. Kiki will come home for a few days before she leaves for her junior year at Birmingham Southern.

This is a new version of an empty nest for me.

I am working on developing a new routine at home, sometimes struggling to do so.  I’ve been surprised how much I have been out of sync all week as little seems routine, because well, it’s not, yet.

Mary and I are a great team in our relationship and family, but when she isn’t home it seems as though I forget everything I learned during my eight years of singleness before we married.

I’ve had to laugh at myself when simple things have seemed so hard.

  1. I drank decaf coffee without realizing it for three mornings at home until I realized the cause of my daily headaches.
  2. I left my tie at home (an hour away) one day and had to go shopping at 7:30 in the morning in Birmingham.  Note: Walmart does not have a good men’s tie selection.
  3. On Friday, it took me two hours to get home instead of one because I kept leaving things at work that I needed for the weekend and had to return to my office over and over again.

There were many more examples of my wrestling match with change.

Change is hard for most of us.  When it happens, we have to think about even the simplest details in our day.  It is uncomfortable and it will wear you out.

I’m learning to take a deep breath when I get frustrated or sad, and give myself a little grace and space instead of the negative self talk that I should be doing better.

The truth is . . . we can’t really know what it is going to be like until we get there, no matter how much planning we do beforehand.  Change demands that we go with the flow.

How about you?  What has helped you adjust to significant changes in your life?  What secrets can you share in the comments below?

Switching Gears

This is the sixteenth in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary.  Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.

“She Said.”  By Mary Bea

Anyone who has ridden a bicycle uphill knows the climb is made easier by switching into a lower gear. Timing, especially on steep inclines, is critical.  According to bicycletutor.com “It’s very important not to shift under pressure, as this will cause shift problems and damage your drivetrain.”

I think I have waited a bit too long to shift into a lower gear.  I have seen this hill coming for a long time.  Depending on how you look at it, some would say I have been anticipating the move to seminary for over a decade.  Even if we only count back to March, the month when I decided where to attend school, I have had a good five months to prepare for the upcoming move and next Wednesday’s classes.

But I have been pedaling along as if I were riding through the flat farmlands of Ohio, risking damage to my “drivetrain.”  I don’t see this tardy transition preparation as a lack of enthusiasm for that which awaits; but rather a testimony to the love for that which I will leave.

Cheeks have been kissed, hugs savored, and tears slipped away now and then.  Borrowed books have been returned, new, already beloved ones beckon.  Last Sunday the family and I were formally blessed by a congregation that has blessed us since we first wandered into Grace Church six years ago.  And yet in my “knowing” I have not “known” to shift gears yet.  This gentle flat land is so familiar and in some ways, easy.

Even though I am excited about this new adventure, perhaps my hesitation is due to a healthy dose of respect for the difficulty on the road ahead.  Whatever the reason, it is time to shift into a lower gear, rely on training from former “rides” and pedal.  I know from past hikes, runs, and rides, the biggest climbs are the most beautiful and gratifying at the summit.  And so I will lift my eyes toward the hills…

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip-
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm-He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

May the Lord watch over you and yours.  I will continue to write as frequently as I am able in my new world.  I am grateful to you, my readers who have encouraged, supported, and given me strength for the road and I will carry you in my heart.  Namaste

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