Transitions are Challenging
Let’s face it. Embracing unexpected change isn’t always easy. If you are like me, you are happiest when you are cruising along in life, enjoying your relationships, finding passion in your work, and engaged in a community.
Then, boom!! The unexpected happens. You don’t see it coming.
Or, maybe you did. In fact, maybe you initiated the change, but you didn’t quite understand the potential impact.
The key is that something important in your life shifts. New choices and decisions are looming.
- You lose your current job or you begin a new job
- You don’t get that hoped for promotion
- An important relationship comes to an end
- You face a threatening illness or injury
The list goes on….
Ready or not, the unexpected launches you into a transition. You change from one thing to the next through your actions or your state of mind. “Trans” means to cross. So, as we transition in life, we cross over into new and sometimes uncharted territory. You have to decide a new direction to go. It can be both exciting and terrifying!
When transition comes, I observe three distinct responses in people. The first group outright denies that any change has occurred. The second group chooses to resist, until they reluctantly accept the change. The third group readily embraces change, even under the most unexpected of circumstances.
3 Reasons to Embrace Transitions
I believe God calls all of us to be in that third group.
We are to readily embrace transitions for 3 important reasons.
1. Transitions are part of life.
When you look closely, you will notice that your life is filled with an amazing number of daily, weekly, and monthly changes. Our bodies, our relationships, and our finances, to name a few, are constantly changing as we mature. Some of these changes are imperceptible and gradually sneak up on you, some are expected over time, and some happen in a heartbeat. When you acknowledge and prepare for transitions, you are taking major steps that will help you overcome any denial and resistance.
2. Transitions lead to transformation.
Transformation is defined as a dramatic change in form or appearance. Transforming moments often happen during some of our most difficult transitions.
One of my clients, Susan, experienced life-changing transformation as she began preparing for her retirement from hospital nursing, a major life transition. To prepare, we discovered her God-given identity (her personality, gifts, strengths, passions) and where God was calling her through prayer and study. As a result of what God revealed, she began working through her church as a community nurse, meeting the health needs of sick people with limited means. God used this transition and her relationship with Him to cause a dramatic change in her. She was elated. The transition into retirement opened up amazing new opportunities for her!
There are hundreds of transformation stories borne out of transition. You may discover that you aren’t ready to be transformed until a major change happens, and you discover you can’t do it on your own. It’s in these moments that we welcome God and transformation begins.
3. Transitions result in necessary endings.
In his book Necessary Endings. Dr. Henry Cloud talks about some of the employees, businesses, and relationships that all of us have to give up in order to move forward in life. Sometimes it takes an unexpected change, like the impacts of an illness or the unhealthy actions of an addicted family member, to make us realize that an ending must occur.
If you are working a high stress job, but are reluctant to begin a job search, a stress-related illness may be the unexpected transition that forces you to face the reality of your situation and take action to change. A transition could save your life.
Most recently, God used an unexpected transition to launch me into a necessary ending. For 5 years I was a board member and prayer warrior at a local prayer house that had transformed my life. It meant the world to me. But, suddenly over the course of a month or two, the funding for the center dried up and it was closed. That was NOT an expected ending, but in hindsight I now understand it was a necessary ending. Out of endings come new beginnings that move us forward in God’s plan.
How have you dealt with unexpected transitions? Have you embraced them? Has God used them to grow and change you? I would love for you to share your comments and experiences.