“I am in transition.” This is what I keep preaching to myself several times a day, every day. Six weeks ago my family and I made a move from Florence, Italy to Austin, Texas. We lived in Italy for five years and experienced many highs and lows. You would think coming back to your home culture would be easy-but it’s not. There is a general malaise that will hit me at any point in the day. I can’t tell if I am longing for what I had or anxious about what I don’t yet know-or both. We are experiencing what most would call a major transition. But transitions come in many forms and can still have the same effects. Transition can mean changing jobs, changing teams, changing locations, experiecing tragedy, losing a role, losing a community, etc. Here are three observations I have made so far about life in transition.
1. Transition is Always Disorienting-Transition is defined as movement, passage or change from one position or state to another. Whether we seek transition or transition seeks us, it necessarily involves change. And change is always disorienting to one degree or another. We leave the known for the unknown. We move from that which has defined us to the realm of being experientially undefined. This disorientation usually causes stress behavior. I see it right now in my wife and children. Of course I am not exhibiting any stress behavior-right! My tiredness and my anger are just underneath the surface. I can simultaneously yell or fall asleep depending on the circumstance. Unfortunately I pride myself on remaining under control. What I am learning is that I have to embrace this season of transition. I must recognize the season I am in and recognize the ways that it impacts me. AND I have to realize that it is OK. There is a rock that is higher than I. And I must turn to Him in my moments of sanity and realization. Only Christ can provide me with true north to balance the compass of my disorientation. I think the answer lies in pursuing Christ personally and as a family, embracing transition and fully trusting Him to take us through it.
2. Transition Always Involves Gain and Loss-Change is like that. As a family we chose this transition from Italy back to the U.S. We fully believed that this is what the Lord had for us. Yet we lost many things in the process. We left a country that was beautiful, had incredible food, and valued relationship. We left American friends. We left Italian friends. We left a ministry that had been challenging, exciting and rewarding. We left behind a vision and a dream of serving overseas for the cause of Christ that will not be easily recaptured. We left behind an incredible season of growth as individuals and as a family. And though we carry the memories with us, we have left behind the real experiences of smiles, tastes, sounds, images and conversations of a season past. We also gain a lot. We have linked our lives to a new and fresh vision. We have entered into new experiences that hold the promise of new relationships, new learning, new opportunity and the application of fresh faith. Not all of this is realized yet-and that is what makes the pain of transition so real-leaving the known and quantifiable for the unknown. I think the solution is in giving thanks for what we have already experienced (good or bad) and believing God for what He has yet to do, but will reveal.
3. Transition Always Tends Towards Isolation-I don’t think this observation is just about me or just about being male. When we are disoriented and unable to get our bearings there is a tendency to look inward. There is the tendency to give in to our tiredness and a desire to feed our thirst for comfort with that which is less than satisfactory. I think this is where temptation lurks, desiring to suck us in to it’s vortex of self gratification and temporary pleasures. I think the answer lies in community. In the midst of transition and all of its highs and lows-we desperately need the fellowship of like minded people who can keep us balanced and pursuing that which really matters. Today I had lunch with a good friend who helps to anchor me and provides me with godly perspective, so that I don’t do something stupid. In transition I am always prone to do something stupid.
What are your thoughts? How have you faced and handled transition? Please comment below.