What to Remember About Unwanted Change

J.J. Peterson

I stand in the waves of a changing tide. One moment being pushed in, another pulled out. I desperately want to stand still, but my feet find no footing. Maybe you know how this feels: to be standing in a season where everything is shifting around you, and you’re desperate for something stable.

I long for a season of stability, tired of wave after crashing wave working against my weary soul.

Photo Credit: Joe St.Pierre, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Joe St.Pierre, Creative Commons

In my vain attempt to find some purpose for the shifting ground, I work to catalog each wave as either positive or negative, but they are neither. They are simply waves. Determined to come in whether I want them or not, their only job is to keep coming. They care not for my purpose or attempts to maintain the status quo. They just come.

They are a powerful force, greater than me.

The first time the word “sea-change” was ever used came in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Ariel, a supernatural spirit, sings it in a song to Prince Ferdinand after his father supposedly dies by drowning.

Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change,
into something rich and strange,
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell,
Ding-dong. Hark! now I hear them, ding-dong, bell.

The idea is that his body, through death, has gone through a metamorphosis. There has been an actual change of the bones into coral, eyes to pearls.

The beauty of the poem is that it says that through the sea-change, even in death, nothing is gone. There has simply been a transformation that has occurred.

Death has become beauty.

Every part of his body has changed into something rich and strange, there is no decay.

I seem to think of sea-change, change thrust upon me by an outside force, as a time of letting go of things, sometimes having to let things die.

What if that death is not about the loss of something, but beautiful transformation?

It is only when I step a little further out and float in the rhythm of the waves’ renewal that I find peace and my clenched muscles release the tension that is held in more by fear than fight. I don’t know where the tide will take me, but working to stay still requires too much effort.

I am safer traveling with the tide than grasping at shifting sand.

What if instead of digging our feet into the sand and trying to hold our place in a supposed spot of safety, we allowed the sea-change to bring about something beautiful through the death of something old?

What feels like decay and death often brings what is rich and sometimes strange.

My waves of sea-change are not evil or good, they are here and they are not leaving. They are small, but they still have power. My hope comes from giving them consent to move me to a new places of strange beauty rather than fighting them with fury that I may be asked to stand in an unfamiliar position. The only way I lose to the waves is if I fight the move.

J.J. Peterson

J.J. Peterson

J.J. Peterson is a speaker, author and consultant who helps people understand the story of God and the role they play in that story. He has studied CS Lewis in Oxford, debated theology with film makers at the Sundance Film Festival, directed a documentary, had small parts in various television shows and film, but his favorite thing is being called Uncle J.J. He currently splits his time between Los Angeles and New York. Check out his website at youaregoingtobeok.com. For regular updates, you can follow him on Twitter (@jjpeterson75)

  • Michelle Watt

    Last year, on March 30, we found ourselves under some dark, suffocating waves. A very rare cloud formation – Undulatus Asperatus. It means “agitated wave.” So basically, an “agitated wave” had come over us. It was scary. I assured my daughter all would be well. And took that time together, by faith, to declare some important words from our God. -> He protects those who love Him. Psalm 145:20. -> The winds and waves are at His command. Matthew 8 & Mark 4 -> And the times are in His hands. Psalm 31:15. So, the waves that arrive may seem surprising, looming, indecipherable even. But perhaps the waves themselves are also rich and strange. Mysterious. From His hand. And God uses all of these agitations to direct and protect. To create beautiful things. Out of dust. Out of us. For His glory and our good. Pearls of Great Price. Kingdom Pearls. JJ, this post was so beautiful, I cried. Daddy really enjoyed creating you. A big hug to you today. 🙂