I’m writing this right before my youngest child graduates from high school. In fact, that same kid turns 18 the day after she graduates. To say we’re in the midst of a bunch of transitions in our family is an understatement (because my son is almost 20, too). At first blush, I don’t really care for transitions. They remind me a little too much of that 6-letter swear word, change. But when I dig a little deeper, I not only see the benefit of transitions, I see them as an opportunity for us to allow some of God’s most holy work to occur within us.
In my opinion, one of the best (and, alas, most graphic) examples of the holy work of transition is the transition phase of non-surgical child birth. To spare my one male reader, I will keep things PG, and say that when a woman is “in transition”, she is at the point of her labor where it’s too early to push, and too late for any epidural medication. Transition represents those last few centimeters of the body’s readiness before the baby can safely be delivered. This phase often finds women feeling very vulnerable, in pain, and out of control, because there’s nothing they can do to speed up the process or make it easier. They simply must ride it out. It takes however long it takes. But guess what? After transition, the mother can actively push out the baby and typically feels much relief at the prospect of doing so. And then, THERE’S A BABY! So it’s all good and amazing. Through this transition, God brings forth the miracle of a baby.
There are other transitions which occur with less fanfare, but the waiting on God to work us through them can feel reminiscent of pushing a watermelon through a keyhole. Transitions can even be very exciting as we build up to them, and we know we’ll appreciate them after they occur. For me, however, the in-between time is very disconcerting. Most difficult for me is that the in-between time takes TIME—a time of vulnerability, of allowing God to do what in my own strength, I cannot. Allowing for Him to change me as He will from one side of the transition to the other. Oh, and, as in childbirth, it takes as long as it takes.
Child graduating? Upcoming wedding? Spouse retiring? Retiring yourself? Moving? Changing houses of worship? Pregnancy in your family – new baby or new grandbaby? Adoption? New job? New school? Searching for a job? Injury? Illness? Meno/Mano-pause? Big Event?
Life is full of events tethered to transitions, isn’t it? In each of these aforementioned situations, we look ahead to the event, perhaps even planning and participating in the event, and then we view the event in our rearview mirror. It’s so tempting, at least for me, to rush through and get things done, because I don’t like the uncertainty of being in limbo (even though I’m not – it just feels like it). I’m a do-er, not a be-er. I like to know what’s happening, when it’s happening, and how long it’s going to take. I like to feel like I can control an outcome, or at least know that I have a great impact upon the outcome. What’s hard for me? Accepting that God’s timing is perfect. Leaning IN to Him when I want to pull the covers over my head ‘because this is taking too long!’. Resting in His faithfulness, rather than churning in my restlessness. When I think about it, I feel silly and quite convicted of heart. Why? Because when I focus so hard on getting to whatever goal/event/milestone I’m trying to conquer, I miss out on the chance to see and appreciate Jesus doing His work in me. Every day.
I can complain about the changes my body is going through, or I can thank Jesus for the other sisters who have been put on this planet to walk me through them. I can stress out over graduation festivities being just so, or I can ‘waste time’ hanging out on my daughter’s bed, talking about nothing in particular. I can anxiously await hearing news on whether my child is accepted to this school or that, or I can embrace the day to day rhythm of life, and enjoy that my child lives at home, at least for now.
When I think about it, since most of my life is spent transitioning from one thing to another, I have the gift of waiting upon God to refine, refresh, and remake me into His image. May Jesus do the same in you, I pray. Holy work, indeed.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. ~ Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ~ Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. ~ Psalm 51:10 (NIV)
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. ~ Matthew 10:39 (NLT)
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ~ Revelation 21:5 (NIV)