Transitions mean change. They are always challenging, sometimes painful. We want to hold onto the familiar and the comforting. The leeks and garlic of Egypt, all that sustained us in our past lives, beckon us.
Change is usually marked by deliberate steps we take that say life is going to be different. Jesus marked his move into adulthood (at the age of 12) by staying behind in Jerusalem to ask questions of the religious leaders (Luke 3:46). He inaugurated his ministry with 40 days in the desert (Luke 4:2) and he marked his transition towards the cross by a deliberate and determined walk towards Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). Jesus knew when it was time to say life is going to be different in the future and he knew how to prepare for those changes.
As you know I have just stepped down from my leadership position in Mustard Seed Associates and I am finding that I need to mark this transition with changes in my physical environment as well as my spiritual observances. Here is some of what I have already learnt through my transition:
Transitions require us to identify the stability points that will not change.
Part of what I have reflected on over the last few weeks is the foundations of my faith, the bedrock of my life that I know should not change. I need the security of knowing that not everything will change. I need to be able to stand firm in my faith as well as in my important relationships.
Question: What do I need to hold onto that will strengthen my faith and beckon me towards God’s love?
Transitions require deliberate steps towards change.
It is easy to settle into the familiar patterns of the past and not consciously work towards the changes God wants us to make. After all, what I am letting go of is my own creation. Now I get up in the morning and I want things to be the same as they have been for the last 10 years. Its comfortable and comforting to know where I am and what I should be doing. Now suddenly there are lots of new options out there for me. I don’t know what I should be doing. It is easier to look back than to look forward. Deliberating working towards change has been a very important and at times painful journey for me.
Question: What do I long for that should be letting go of?
Transitions require the creation of new boundaries and new rituals.
Tom and I have just embarked on a major remodel in our house. It is part of the transition, part of the establishing of new boundaries and new rituals. It will provide a new environment for both of us to work in and encourage us to establish new practices and new priorities.
Question: What changes may be necessary in your physical environment to prepare for the spiritual changes ahead?
Transitions require space and time for dreaming new dreams.
Transition time is busy time. We have a hundred and one tasks to hand over and spaces to clear out. It is easy to fill our days without really thinking about the future. Sometimes the dreams that moved us towards transition seem to get lost in the process.
We need to take to time to breathe, to sit still and reflect. Clearing our calendars for a season, going on retreat, taking time to allow God to renew and refocus us is essential.
Question: What space is necessary for dreaming new dreams for the future?
Transitions require help from advisors.
Over the next few weeks I will be engaging with a new spiritual director and a life coach to help me move into this new season of my life. I am also reading a lot and seeking the counsel of a broad array of friends and wise counsellors. I have lots of ideas that I think are from God but realize that I cannot move into the journey God has for me without help.
We all need companions who can walk beside us, as well as those who can guide and help direct us into new seasons of life.
Question: Who are the companions and advisors that help us through transition?
Transitions cannot be rushed.
I wish that my transition season could be over and done with in a couple of weeks, but I know it will actually take months, possibly longer before the dreams and possibilities emerge fully. It is easy to get impatient, to try to give birth prematurely. This is not a season to hurry through. The season between conception and birth is essential and even after that there is a long and sometimes slow season on growth to maturity.
Question: How have we tried to hurry the transition process and tried to give birth prematurely?
What is your response?
Maybe you are not in a major transition time like I am, but I am sure that the next few months holds some form of minor transition that require the same kinds of questions I am asking. Perhaps you are starting a new school year. Or you may be preparing for a new liturgical season – Advent and Christmas are not far away. Or, at least for those in the northern hemisphere, it might be the desire to hold onto the last days of summer and the flavour of fresh picked tomatoes.
Sit and reflect on the transitions in your own life. What is God saying to you at this time that could help you through this season?