Thoughts on life, inspired by fiction.
The Good Word
A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold
We are told that words are powerful, that words matter, that a spoken thought has a ripple effect in the world whether for good or ill. The main character in my novel A Voice Within the Flame is Samuel, the last great judge and prophet before the monarchy was introduced in Israel. There is a descriptive phrase written of Samuel that is used nowhere else in Scripture, nor is it used to describe any other character. It is stated of Samuel that God “let none of his words fall to the ground.”
This is biblical poetry and does not just refer to Samuel’s prophetic declarations. Those pronouncements, while profound in effect, were infrequent and not the everyday life that Samuel led. This idiomatic expression reveals Samuel’s deep and knowing character rooted in truth. Whatever Samuel spoke, either in the sacred language of God or the common communication of man, it could be trusted.
The ancient Hebrew phrase “fall to the ground” means that something is useless and carries no weight or power. In Samuel’s case, his words did not fall to the ground like “precious liquors if spilt upon the earth, or like an arrow shot from a bow not arriving to the target,” as one commentator wrote. As spilt liquor upon the ground or a missed shot of an arrow are useless, so are thoughtless and foolish words when spoken.
When Samuel spoke his words carried the full weight of truth. Many times people did not like what Samuel had to say or the way he said it, but the measure of everything he spoke was bathed in the oil of truth, and the people trusted him.
The Bible, the Ancient Greeks, the Drama
A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold
The Invention of Tragedy
The invention of tragedy as a form of dramatic storytelling often is attributed to Aristotle and the ancient Greeks. The basic construct of a tragedy is that the protagonist—the one with outstanding qualities—rises to prominence before succumbing to disaster and being destroyed due to personal failures, circumstances beyond their control, or a combination of these two factors. Tragedy has been a creative style of expression in multiple art forms ever since.
The Role of Catharsis in Tragedy
When told well, a literary tragedy gives an audience the opportunity to experience catharsis. Simply put, when we become engrossed in a story, we experience deep and intense connection with the characters and, thus, identify with them. With our imaginations, we enter the story’s unfolding action and see ourselves in the different characters. Our emotions are engaged, and by the end we will have had a complete empathic experience. It is like a cleansing for the soul.
Long before the Greek playwrights wrote their stories and the actors donned their masks and began to orate in the amphitheaters, there was King Saul, the first true tragic figure of this kind in the Bible. Preceding when Sophocles wrote of Oedipus’ encounter with the prophet Tiresias, Saul encountered the prophet Samuel.
The Tragic Formula in Crown of the Warrior King
In my novel Crown of the Warrior King, the story of King Saul picks up where my first novel, A Voice Within the Flame, left off. Saul is in the early days of his kingship, winning the hearts and minds of the people of Israel with his success on the battlefield and benevolent leadership. But then personal hubris (excessive pride and self-confidence), crept in, and the tragic formula began to develop.
Art holds up the mirror of our humanity reflecting the tragic and comedic realities of our human nature. In Crown of the Warrior King, Saul reveals those human qualities we recognize in ourselves and makes choices that prove to have fatal consequences. It is a cautionary tale for us all.
Cutthroats and Swindlers and Thieves…Oh My
A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold
The Bible as an Entertaining and Instructive Book
John Milton of Paradise Lost fame wrote in a letter to a friend, “Why is the Bible more entertaining and instructive than any other book?” I say it is because the stories are addressed to “the imagination, which is spiritual sensation.”
More than forty writers are attributed to its authorship, and the divinely inspired literary styles and stories range from historical, poetic, wisdom, prophetic, narrative, and epistolatory to apocalyptic. Some of my favorite passages are in Psalms. Every human emotion is expressed in those one hundred and fifty psalms. Honesty at its most raw.
The Timeless Relevance of Biblical Stories for Modern Readers
Scripture also does not shy away from revealing every distinguishing trait of human nature—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some stories are so outrageous that people can’t believe they are included in such a holy book. I say, how could they not?
This great quote from Bono describes one of many reasons I have such affection for the Bible: “That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers, and mercenaries used to shock me. Now it is a source of great comfort.” Ancient times or modern times, nothing is new under the sun.
Conflict and Tension in Crown of the Warrior King
When I began to write my biblical historical fiction series, The Song of Prophets and Kings, I dreamed of gleaning truths from these three-thousand-year-old stories without altering any of the historical events and put them into an artistic context so a modern reader could relate to the situations and the emotional life of the characters.
With the publication of Crown of the Warrior King, the second installment of this series, the tension between the characters sharpened, and the conflict between the monarchy and the theocracy has intensified. The choices made by the main characters threaten to destroy the nation of Israel and bring down the reign of King Saul before it barely had time to be established.
The human struggle in this novel is as relevant for the modern reader as it was for those who lived through it so long ago. We can learn from our past. It is not inevitable that we repeat it.
Chaos, Hover, and Create
A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold
Human Love for Order
Human beings love order. When our world descends into chaos, we quickly begin the task of restoring a semblance of it. When the larger world around us becomes chaotic, we are fearful of being sucked into the wider maelstrom.
God chose to reverse the chaos of the amorphous universe. After hovering over the waters of turmoil, God began the process of creating form and beauty out of disorder.
Maintaining Order in Our Lives
Just contemplate what you do in the waking hours of a single day and consider all the ways you attempt to maintain order in your life. How do you react when your personal world order hits the turbulence of life and is threatened by upheaval?
We spend a great deal of physical energy bringing form out of our chaos and maintaining an ordered life. And when our world does spin out of control, too many times our natural response is to complain, curse, and blame.
The Three-Step Process to Bringing Order out of Chaos
In the book of beginnings, Genesis 1:2 reveals a simple three-step process to bringing order out of chaos. How and when the chaos in the universe came to be is a debate others can argue. But chaos existed in the dark, wet, void of the cosmos. Perhaps this image was in the subconscious minds of the creators of the lava lamp.
Then God hovered. The original Hebrew meaning for hover is “to brood; to be relaxed.” When we are relaxed enough to ponder and mediate on a situation, the time spent in doing so allows our imaginations to consider new forms to replace the chaos.
The Satisfaction of a Job Well Done
After such a brooding time, one goes into action to create beauty, to restore the benefits of peaceful existence in one’s heart and to the community at large. God’s response when the creation process was complete was to say, “It is good.” What a wonderful appraisal to be able to say when one is finished creating something beautiful, that “It is good.”
From the beginning it was so. Chaos, hover, and create.
Tell Me a Story
A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold
Conflict and Drama
When our girls were young, they would badger me with requests such as, “Daddy, tell us a story about when you were bad.” I think our girls learned about the reputation of my younger days by listening to family stories at the gatherings of the Arnold clan. Do not be tricked. When you think your kids aren’t paying attention, they are.
I never told them all the stories; they were too traumatic for their little psyches. I usually distracted them by suggesting we create our own stories full of characters that got into trouble.
“Like you, Daddy?” came the innocent question. “Well, maybe…” was my cagey reply. We would create scenarios fraught with conflict, danger, and drama, and we figured out how their characters got into and out of these troublesome situations. This freed their imaginations and got me off the hook.
Surprises and Authenticity in Storytelling
I have lived in the world of storytelling all my life as an actor, a playwright, a director, and a novelist. I have played and written about all manner of saints and scoundrels. Kay, my wife, tells me I do best with scoundrels. She knows me too well. But to be an effective storyteller it goes back to the advice I gave our girls: pay attention.
I try to look at life from a 360-degree perspective, paying attention to what is happening around me but also what might be happening within me. Surprises will follow. I am surprised by what other people reveal of themselves, and many times I am surprised by my own reactions. Both responses are real and authentic. I want my characters to be fully believable because I have fully felt them.
Refraining from Judgment
Refraining from judgment is a test for a storyteller. I seek to describe the action taken by the characters and the possible motives behind the action. There are always consequences to the choices characters make, just like in real life. As a writer, I try to make logical connections between character, choice, and consequence.
The Art of Daydreaming
This requires daydreaming. “He has his head in the clouds” would be an apt description when it comes to the artist. I see the reality of the world around me, and then I take the time and freedom to daydream about what it was, what it is, and what it may be in relation to my story. To create a compelling story requires time spent in the clouds to give meaning and depth to our lives here on earth. Defy the law of gravity. Keep daydreaming. Keep creating. The world is a better place for it.
The Singer of Israel
A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold
My parents gave me my first Bible on my eleventh birthday with the inscription written in my mother’s hand: “To our son, with the hope that this book will serve as your guide all the days of your life. Our love and prayers will always be with you. Mother and Daddy.” It was the standard KJV translation. “If this translation was good enough for the apostle Paul, then it is good enough for us,” was the occasional argument heard among the brethren back then. It sits on my desk—dog-eared, held together with a rubber band and petrified masking tape, with the pages inside marked and worn.
Now, do not be deceived. As sweet as my mother’s sentiment might be, I tested the inscribed words. Their “love” was tried and their “prayers” were many when I took a prodigal turn and remained “in the wilderness” for what, I’m sure, seemed like ages to them. I am grateful to the faithfulness of my parents, and like the prodigal son, when I “came to my senses,” a discovery of an active, loving relationship with God and an intense thirst for scripture came with it. A devotion to tell or retell stories from the Bible would soon follow.
All artists, whatever their art form, interpret life through a particular lens. My lens just happens to be scripture. I have been asked often how I came up with the stories I have created in my historical fiction series The Song of Prophets and Kings. I usually react by quoting Isaac Newton when he was asked how he came up with the theory of gravity. His reply: “By thinking on it continually.”
Writing really is no mystery, no sleight of hand. It is hard work. It is a constant devotion to a task. It is not a sudden onset of inspiration—that is, of course, if you are already busy at the work of creating when inspiration appears. I have thought about these stories in this series and how I may compile them in a cohesive whole for a long time. I have invested years of labor and received generous encouragement from Kay, my wife, and many others all along the way.
The third volume of the Prophets and Kings series released in December 2022 and is entitled The Singer of Israel. I devoted this volume to the rise of David to a prominent place in the court of King Saul only to be forced to flee for his life and remain on the run for years.
Building a Chicken Coop
A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold
William Faulkner once said that, “Writing a novel is like building a chicken coop in a high wind: You grab any board you find and nail it down fast.” Writing a novel an be a long-term battle in a headwind, and when you are writing an historical novel, you have many facts flying that you could use to build that literary coop. But, alas, the sustained headwinds are so brutal that some of those facts just sail right past you. Even if the coop is missing a few factual “boards,” you hope the story is still complete.
I love writing novels—the ones in progress and the ones I still hope to write. I love taking the stories from biblical history and using my imagination to bring characters and events to life that have existed in mystery. I am bringing a vanished world to life on a page, inviting a reader into a world rich with human dimensions and dynamics.
I am not an historian. The skill of the historian is to take the verifiable facts as they happened, and while they attempt to tell those facts in such a way that are interesting and give a reader a solid sense of place and time, they can’t make stuff up. That is the rule of the game for the historian.
The novelist need not adhere to such a rule…completely. Certainly, they must assemble the pieces (historical facts) that fly in the headwind so that the chicken coop at least resembles such a structure. The reader wants to be secure in the knowledge that the novelist has done the research and has created an accurate and believable setting in which the characters may exist.
But the novelist is free to get inside the character’s heads and hearts and describe what is going on. I allow myself the freedom to invent and, thus, allow myself the potential to feel a human connection to the characters. Hilary Mantel of Wolf Hall fame says, “If we want added value—to imagine not just how the past was, but what it felt like, from the inside—we pick up a novel.”
This is what I attempt to do each time when I set my fingers on the keyboard and watch the words appear on the screen. I want to know “what it felt like from the inside” in the biblical fiction I have written. I invite all readers to take that journey with me in my series The Song of Prophets and Kings.
The Shortcomings of History
A Guest Post by Henry O. Arnold
I wonder if there is such a thing as “total accurate history.” History is the compilation of facts that help explain events we want to remember. But is it possible to have all the facts, even in today’s world with our advanced technologies? I read a quote recently by a German poet from the Romantic period who went by the pen name Novalis: “Novels arise out of the shortcomings of history.” Too often, however, the novel rushes in and makes a mess of things, giving migraines to the angels of history.
Works of fiction are created and designed to fill us with all sorts of human emotions: awe, shock, tears, sorrow, and so on. These emotions help secure the characters of a story firmly into our memory. A fine-drawn fictional character may live much longer in the memory than an historical one. Unless, of course, the historical character is given enough human dimension based on historical events that draw the reader into the heart and soul of that character.
This is where one historical character may become a legend. A legend is presumed to have some basis in historical fact with real people or events. But historical fact can easily morph into a legend when the truth has been exaggerated to the point that real people or events have taken on a romanticized, larger-than-life quality.
In my recent novel The Singer of Israel, the historical character of King David becomes an overnight legend the moment he slays a giant. His exploits are even turned into paeans of praise. You know you’ve achieved legend status when an entire nation sings songs about you.
Regardless of my shortcomings as an artist, I have attempted to capture the truth of the emotional lives of my characters and give them depth and meaning. History is tumultuous and fraught with misperception and misunderstanding. Even with time and distance the historical events and facts can remain distorted and difficult to understand. But when human emotions are expressed, even those emotions-by-design applied by an author to their characters, then historical characters really may live forever providing generation after generation of readers pleasure and understanding of who they are and who they may become.
Anything but Alone: Finding the Balance Between Independence and Support
By Marisa Stokley, Director of Marketing, WhiteFire Publishing Group
The First Steps
Beep. Beep. Beep.
Never in my life had I imagined a sound would become so significant. But those beeps indicated that my newborn daughter was breathing, and thus in her ability to stabilize her breaths, my own could follow suit. Sophia merely was hours old, but already her ability to do something on her own dictated how my life and my husband’s would play out. Our daughter had to become independent much sooner than she should have, and I have no doubt that forever will influence her future.
Independence, particularly for Americans, is a highly sought-after trait. Perhaps it is a call back to our patriotic roots, or perhaps it simply is because we have an inherent desire to prove our capabilities. Either way, by the time most of us begin kindergarten, we already have proved our ability to be independent. We have taken our first steps without holding a parent’s hand. We have entertained ourselves with our toys. We have demonstrated that even the littlest person can take care of themselves (to some degree) and influence others.
To progress in life, every person must have some degree of independence. With every passing year, children are entrusted with more tasks to complete. Grade levels and employment are contingent upon individuals successfully executing assignments without supervision or micromanagement. In the case of my premature daughter, she had to breathe, drink her milk without a feeding tube, and remain at a certain body temperature on her own before she could leave the hospital. No matter the age, income level, education level, or lifestyle, everyone encounters the choice to be independent or not.
As with most traits, independence can be overused or implemented in right and wrong ways. While independence is a positive quality, too much of it can be detrimental. Children who are overly independent may find themselves in harmful situations. Adults who are too keen to show their worth may not consider the thoughts of others despite that teamwork is essential in the workplace. Nevertheless, too much dependence upon others is equally detrimental. Those who are not independent often are timid, afraid, or lack confidence. The key to executing independence the right way is balance. With balance, we can know our own minds, have confidence in our abilities, and know ourselves while still respecting others and recognizing boundaries.
From Stepping to Walking
The world was closing in around me. Only three weeks remained until my wedding, and while I should have been focusing upon making the final preparations, instead I was staring at a bookshelf. Panic ran rampant from my head to my toes as I considered which books I needed to box away. I couldn’t make the choice. Changing anything on my bookshelves felt akin to traitorous behavior. I’d lived alone for four years, and I counted my books among my closest of friends. Despite that my then-fiance had lived with me for a few months, our apartment still looked and felt like mine. I’d not put away my figurines, my dresses filled most of our closet, and everything pink and flowered decorated our walls. I was in a relationship, but I’d yet to experience to change from an independent life to one shared fully with another.
With every change in life, independence rears its head. The transition from living a single life to living one in partnership with another can be particularly difficult. With the emphasis on independence known for so long in children and young adults, to go from a focus primarily upon ourselves to another person is jarring. A life of thinking only of doing what we want to do, when we want to do it, and how we want to do it switches to one of how our choices will affect someone else—and sometimes in a big way. In addition, when we transition from singlehood into a relationship, we likely are going to give up a part of ourselves for the good of the other.
As I contemplated whether my bookshelf of classics and contemporary romance would stay or go, I actually was considering whether or not I slowly was losing what had made me who I was for so long. Never mind that my husband was—and remains—a reader. Never mind that he’d never once asked me to box away any of books. I was choosing to do so to help him feel more of a part of our life together. With each book placed in the box, though, thoughts of what I’d already given up came to mind. I was willingly putting aside a piece of my single life in lieu of the good that was coming, but in doing so, I also was losing part of my independence. It was a surreal moment for someone who’d always dreamed of marriage, and it is a lesson I recall often as a moment of growth as I reflect upon how easily merging our lives has become. I might have lost shelf space and the pretty aesthetic of hardback Jane Austen novels for the neon paperbacks of Stephen King, but I gained a new independence of knowing I am still me even if my books aren’t on display.
From Walking to Running
Demonstrating independence is about proving your ability to do something on your own. We all need to be self-sufficient, but there is a line between being so due to situational necessity and being so due to stubbornness. My husband, Paul, and I learned this lesson the hard way as navigated the early days of our marriage. While both of our families preached the value of independence during our childhood years, he and I took away different meanings of it as we became adults. My family is one that does not mind asking for help, whereas Paul’s is stubborn to the core about doing things individually. Many times he and I debate about the situations we feel in which it is appropriate to ask others for help. I am much more willing to reach out for assistance if I don’t know what I’m doing. Paul often refuses to ask for help even if he does not know the answer to a question or has spent an inordinate amount of time on a task that someone else could complete in five minutes. Neither way is right or wrong, although the number of times we’ve attempted to put together a bathroom vanity may indicate when to throw in the proverbial towel. We have yet to know which way our daughter will tend to lean, but between her stubborn mother and father and what we saw in the NICU, I imagine that trait has been passed down to her. Our job as her parents will be encourage her to be strong and capable while also gracious in accepting help when needed. There is a time to learn, a time to ask for support, and time to prove our own self-worth and show that our best is our personal best even if it is not perfect.
Crossing the Finish Line
The sound of a handful of voices reverberated in the otherwise quiet NICU neighborhood. Nurses, doctors, and therapists popped in to congratulate Sophia on her last day in the unit. The incessant beep of the heart monitor no longer called my attention. My baby girl was coming home, and nothing could stop me from celebrating.
Sophia might have done the hard work to survive in those first five weeks of her life, but she would not have made it home without the hospital staff to help get her there. Never has a situation so aptly demonstrated the balance between independence and support than a NICU unit. Those tiny babies fighting for their lives have no choice other than that if they are going to make it out of their incubators. But they do not do it alone. Doctors make difficult choices daily about how to treat babies in perilous conditions. Nurses prick tiny heels, delicately push tubes down noses and throats, and keep conditions in perfect silence to allow for the ultimate rest a baby would get in its mother’s belly. Therapists teach babies how to do the most natural actions that those infants cannot do alone. The babies determine the outcome, and the support staff is there to be with them along the way.
The sound of the elevator door opening signaled the final change. I wrapped my hand around the handle of Sophia’s car seat, gently pushing Paul’s fingers out of the way. I was five weeks postpartum and shouldn’t have been lifting anything heavier than my daughter, but I was determined to carry her—car seat and all—out of the hospital. With one final quick glance over my shoulder, I took in the NICU that had been our home during the biggest transition yet of our married life. Most of the nurses had returned to their stations, but hidden behind the curtain of Sophia’s old room, one remained. Nurse Janet peeked her head around the panel and smiled at me. A sense of peace washed over me as I returned the gesture then looked at my daughter. Sophia had proven she could live despite the many odds against her. She was wholly independent and ready to live life on her own terms. And we were going home, yet we were anything but alone.
Looking Ahead or Looking Behind: Facing Change in the Mist of the Unknown
By Marisa Stokley, Director of Marketing, WhiteFire Publishing Group
Clouds and a heavy gray overtone colored the sky as the gigantic Atlas truck pulled out of the perfectly suburban neighborhood on August 4, 2006. My attention followed it as I contemplated what would happen next. I was seventeen and about to begin my senior year of high school in a new state. I knew no one other than my parents and my two younger brothers. Trepidation weighed upon my shoulders but so did a sense of relief. I was somewhere new. I could start over. My family was about to encounter change in a way we never had before, and I refused to look forward with anything other than hope.
When I tell this story, the most common response I hear is something akin to the difficulty of the situation. While I can’t fault that thought process—there is something to be said for moving three children between the ages of eleven and seventeen—the missing piece is adaptability. Adapting to change is a learned behavior, and those of us who learn it from an early age find nothing out of the norm of making big or small changes with little preparation or concern. Two years into our marriage, my husband still calls me crazy for thinking that way, but I’ve found adaptability to change to be a favorable trait. There are also positives to having roots and sentimentality, as I’ve learned from observing my husband’s three-generation-strong Philadelphian family. Hope can be found on both sides of a balanced perspective.
The Influence of Habits on Change
Life is a series of firsts and new changes: first days of school or at new jobs; first haircuts, cars, or vacations; moves to new places; beginning or ending relationships; births, marriages, and funerals. These momentous—or perhaps not momentous yet still significant—moments comprise the daily goings on of life in small and big ways. Yet while the intricacies that encompass these moments will differ between us all, the theme that crosses the boundaries of them is the same: change.
People are creatures of habit. The rituals that indicate what we are supposed to do, when we are supposed to do it, and whom we are supposed to do it with bring a sense of comfort in knowing what to expect. By its nature, change is just the opposite. It pushes us toward the new, the unexpected, and the unknown. Change often brings about fear and anxiety for that reason—when we don’t know what to expect, we can’t prepare for how to handle what may come. Much like how I walked into my new high school ready for homework, knowing how to change classes, and expecting the same type of adolescent behavior, I also faced the unknown relating to change. Would my new classmates accept me? Would I get lost trying to find which classrooms to go to? Would I have anyone to go to prom with? No amount of preparation could answer those questions despite how much I wanted them.
There is a sense of security—if not a little monotony as well—when things stay the same. Whether or not we like the outcome of sameness, when we know how to take the next step, we have a much greater sense of the forthcoming outcome. We can look ahead with a sense of comfort and continuity when change is not a part of the plan. Habits, schedules, plans, and routines ensure success because people thrive on the known. Children grow as rapidly as they do in their first years because they can depend upon their caregivers keeping them on strict feeding and sleeping schedules. Adults who keep to regular exercise routines are more successful at being fit and healthy. Employees who know when and where to attend meetings show up. Changes, however—even small ones like the color of a wall or a new haircut—throw off expectations. After all, if a meeting time can change or a new haircut be tried, what else may follow?
The Challenges and Benefits of Change
While some of us accept change more readily than others, whether that change is within our own hands and how comfortable we are with adaptability differentiates with how much gusto it is embraced. A fabulous opportunity could present itself, but if accepting it requires someone to leave behind comfort and stability, there’s a chance nothing could entice that person to change. In the case of my family’s move in 2006, my parents had raised the three of us to accept change without question. We’d moved almost every year for my entire life, so not moving regularly was more uncommon than otherwise. Change did not phase me and my brothers, but as our parents found out, attempting to bring about change with teenagers required more mental fortitude than they’d ever experienced before. Change forges adaptability, true; stability, though, provides the comfort that so many need.
It is much easier for most of us to take a step toward change when the floor to the unknown remains in sight. That may mean a change is willingly sought rather than forced, such as someone seeking a job change because they want a new opportunity rather than due to a lay off. It also may mean someone making a change of their own accord rather than at the mercy of someone else, such as a person changing their lifestyle because they want to be healthy rather than because a medical scare pushed them to do so. It all comes down to control. Change is easier to accept and to follow through with when we have control over it. We may never know what will happen days, months, or years later due a change we’re considering or when something new presents itself, but when we have the option to take that change at our own pace or to pull back if we dislike how it is going, we can better handle the fear of the unknown.
The unknown that comes from change incites fear and anxiety because of the loss of control that accompanies it. That loss primarily may pertain to something outward, such as being let go from a job or moving away from family and friends, but often it is accompanied by a loss of control over emotions that is equally as frightening. Without knowing how something new or how a big change may influence an outcome, we have no way to know whether a risk will be worth the reward. My parents faced this challenge when they batted around the idea of the 2006 move. In the midst of a challenging job market, they had to determine whether keeping our family where we lived at time was worth the uncertainty or whether moving us to a new state was worth uprooting three teenagers. Ultimately, they took the risk of moving our family and did, in fact, pay the challenging price of waiting for moody children to adjust to a new home and new schools and admit that the end of the world had not fallen upon them. Fourteen years later in the same home, the positive evidence of the relocation is more than evident…even if none of us saw that coming at the time.
Once change is enacted, the challenge is to look forward rather than to look behind—or perhaps it should be how to look forward with joy and behind with peace rather than regret. Leaving what is comfortable never is easy. There is growth to be had, though, from pushing ourselves to be more than what we are at the present time. While comfort is not bad, we are called to be more than stagnant. Without change, we become flat. Without pursuing something new, we see too little of the world and do too little for it. We do not have to lose ourselves—our identities, control of our emotions, or our self-worth—if change is difficult or doesn’t go as planned. We can make small changes to ourselves but still retain who we are. We also can push ourselves to be better, go farther, and do more yet return home at the end of the day. Like with most of everything that we come across in life, there is a middle ground with change and the new. Fear and anxiety do not have to be negative. We can experience them, learn from them, make the change, and still be OK.