Transitions

    Monday, March 04, 2024

    tran·​si·​tion | tran(t)-ˈsi-shən
    A change or shift from one state, subject, place, etc. to another
    A period or phase in which such a change or shift is happening
    (From Merriam-Webster)

    You don’t have to be a pastor’s family to face transition. Though as pastor’s wives, many of us have faced our share of changing seasons. Whether from job changes (often requiring a move), kids moving out or moving to college, aging parents, or changes in leadership, transition and change find all of us.

    Our family is walking through a year of transition. At first it was unexpected and full of grief, then welcomed and embraced. But our excitement about the coming change didn’t lessen the challenges we’ve faced. Transitions are hard because they can leave us feeling vulnerable. This transition has involved a major move, and small things, like the new weather patterns, have left me feeling uncertain and hesitant. Everyone else seems to navigate the impending storm with ease and I’m left with anxiety, wondering, “Is this normal? How do I prepare? How am I supposed to walk through this?” The newness leaves me unsteady. It takes time to find my footing again.

    In the midst of transition and change, there are few things that help me steady myself. The first way I have kept my footing in this season of change is by prioritizing life-giving relationships. My husband and I have spent many Friday mornings (his day off) sitting by the window in our bedroom, with steaming mugs of coffee, processing the changes we see.  I have friends who are pastor’s wives and understand our life. Through the joy of technology, I’m able to reach out to them to pray for me when the new things feel overwhelming. I’m also developing friendships in our new town. I’ve loved having coffee and lunch with women in our church as I begin to get to know them and share my life with them. Many of these women have been the new person in our community and they care about how my family and I are adjusting to our new culture. Investing in relationships helps me to remember I’m not alone and helps me to feel more at home in our new community.

    Another way I’ve found my footing as we walk through transition is to have compassion for myself. Transitions take time. I can’t expect it to all feel “normal” overnight. When I feel sad or lonely, it helps me to remember that of course I miss my friends. Of course, this new thing is challenging. I’ve lowered my expectations and given myself more grace. I was hiking with a friend recently, feeling discouraged that the hike was harder than I thought it should be, when I realized, I’ve only lived in the mountains for three months. It takes my body time to adjust, and I can offer myself compassion. In the same way, I can offer compassion to myself for the emotional challenges of grief and transition. It takes time. Life will look more settled in a year than it does now.

    Last, in new beginnings, I stay close to Jesus. When Joshua faced a transition into leadership at the beginning of Joshua Chapter 1, God exhorts him to find strength in Him and in His Word. Courage to face what’s next comes from knowing God’s character. He reminded Joshua that He would be with him, that He would be faithful to His promises. I’ve made an intentional decision to stay close to Him, no matter what comes. Maybe that means joining (or leading!) a new Bible study, spending more time in prayer, or turning on worship music throughout the day. I recently started listening to a Psalm through the Bible app at various times of the day. Hearing the Word read aloud steadies my soul when my circumstances feel uncertain. It helps me to stay close to Christ.

    God is the one who brings new beginnings. Through seasons of change, even when they’re painful, He is writing stories of His faithfulness in our lives. When life feels uncertain, we can anchor ourselves and rest in His unchanging character.

    When darkness seems to hide His face

    I rest in His unchanging grace;

    In every high and stormy gale

    My anchor holds within the veil.

    — from “My Hope Is Built” by Edward Mote

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