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.
We are about to transition into a new season – in the church calendar out of Eastertide and into Ordinary time, in the seasonal calendar out of spring into summer or autumn into winter. Many are also transitioning into new stages in their lives. Some are leaving school to start new jobs. Others are moving across the country or even across the world.
Whatever the changes we are facing transitions are never easy.
Transitions require us to identify the stability points that will not change.
The place to start as we face transition is not with – what is changing but what is not changing. What are the stability points that keep me strong throughout change?
Part of what I have reflected on over the last few weeks is the foundations of my faith in the goodness of God, 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. Routines provide comfort for us and when they change we are often disoriented and destabilized. Suddenly there are lots of new options out there for us. We don’t know what we should be doing. It is easier to look back than to look forward. Deliberately working towards change is a very important and at times painful journey for us.
Question: What do I long for that I should be letting go of?
Transitions require the creation of new boundaries and new rituals.
When Tom and I stepped down from the leadership of Mustard Seed Associates we embarked on a major remodel in our house. As part of that remodel I moved the desk in my office so that it is not longer the focal point. My space became first a sacred space and then a work space. It was part of the transition, part of the establishing of new boundaries and new rituals. It provide a new environment for both of us to work in and encouraged us to establish new practices and new priorities.
Then we went on a major trip for our 25th wedding anniversary, taking 6 weeks off to travel Europe, visit some of our favourite people and places and set boundaries around what had been and what was to come. We both came back refreshed, renewed and ready to start on new things.
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 times. 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 companions for the journey.
As part of our transition two years ago, I will engaged with a new spiritual director and a life coach to help me move into this new season of my life. I also read a lot and sort the counsel of a broad array of friends and wise counsellors. I had lots of ideas that I think are from God but realize that I cannot move into the journey God has for me without help. Some of those ideas have been lost and will never be fulfilled, others are slowly coming to fruition.
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 you through transition?
Transitions cannot be rushed.
When I go through major transition season I always hope for a brief, sometimes painful phase and then hope everything will settle down again without too much hassle.However I know from experience that transitions usually take months if not years 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 of growth until 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, maybe it is only the brief transition of changing seasons, 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. Or, at least for those in the northern hemisphere, preparing for the coming harvest season.
Sit and reflect on the transitions in your own life. What is God saying to you at this time that could help you through the days ahead?