Rooted Adaptability

Today is overcast and grey. I’ve never done well on gray overcast days. They seem to suck up my energy and make me lethargic and contemplative.

I didn’t notice this about myself, however, until I lived in Russia for two years after college. The winters are long, cold, and grey in St. Petersburg. Everyone knows that I’m not a morning person in the best of circumstances, and when I came home I would tell people that I got up with the sun – noon. Shocked faces broke out in laughter at the joke.

In high school and college, I just powered through and got up when I had to. But in St Petersburg I taught in the afternoon and evening, making it easy to fall into lazy morning habits. One day in January, a student commented about the grey winter days and said that even her dog slept more in the winter. Without enough sunlight we don’t get the vitamin D we need, and our bodies start to shut down.

I don’t think it’s just a vitamin deficiency though. The sun has a psychological affect as well. When I was in high school, we moved from Arizona to Oregon – another place with grey weather, and not just winter. One spring day the sun shone bright and brilliant.

I was euphoric.

I couldn’t stop skipping and bouncing wherever I went, my energy felt boundless. I experienced a similar day on a walk with my roommates in St. Petersburg. The sky was blue, the lilacs were budding, all was right with the world. The next day it rained.

Clearly, I don’t adapt well to the weather.

Generally, we think adaptability is a good thing. Life is a constant string of adjusting and adapting to new situations.

The children who do well socially in school seem to be the ones who can adapt to new people and schedules. The popular teenagers appear to be the ones who navigate changing bodies and hormones with grace and ease. The adults who fit in best at work can talk to anyone in any situation.

Adaptation skills are survival skills.

Manakamana 1Should we be adaptable to everything, though? Are there some areas where we should stand firm? I grew up believing so. I think most people grow up hearing that they need to be unwavering on issues of politics and religion. Adaptability in these areas show weakness and feeblemindedness. But these are worldly issues.

I’m thinking of spiritual issues.

Specifically, who we are to our very core. If we truly are created in God’s image then our identity transcends these issues. We can listen to other viewpoints and ideas without feeling threatened. We can be in unfamiliar cultural situations knowing that our social, national, or economic identity is worldly, not spiritual, and different is okay.

Jesus is the best example of this kind of adaptability. Taking on human skin, living a human existence right alongside us, adapting to the culture of the time while also actively and radically pushing back against it. An identity so rooted in the truth of who he is that he could be anywhere and it was unshakable.

Our identity stems from that same deep root.

Adaptability isn’t floating through life changing with each situation just to fit in and making ourselves unknown to those around us. It’s the opposite. It’s tapping into our deep identity root so that we too can meet people where they are, and in turn, be met.

And the weather? Well, that’s another matter.