tran·si·tion: the (sometimes annoying) process or period of changing from one state or condition to another
The word transition has been on my mind a lot lately. Frequently finding myself trying to connect the dots of how we go from where we are to where we want to be. And, obviously, the only thing I get from that is a headache. I mean, it’s not like I can see the future – but boy, do I sure try to plan it!
It’s obvious that planning ahead is in our human nature because we can’t stop doing it! We plan everything! We make a plan to make future plans. Yet, even in the process of our planning, we can’t always plan transition. Transition is something that no one plans on, it’s simply a force we cannot eliminate – although how hard we may try to.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago I began to look at the transitional period of life differently. I started seeing the importance of transition with the seasons, understanding that without a time of transition, no new healthy growth can happen in the coming season. Once that was put into perspective, it changed everything for me; literally a mind-blowing moment. Which then lead me down this path of reflection for the transitional periods I’ve experienced and the amazing impact they’ve continued to have on my life.
Like when we wanted to start a family and remembering it did not go the way we thought it would. I couldn’t see what the future held, I just knew what I wanted it to have: a child. And after about 3 years of hoping for a pregnancy, God did something incredible for me. He took me through a period of transition. What was once something I thought about day and night suddenly disappeared from my mind almost overnight. Now, looking back on those times, it is so clear what God had planned all along: them.
I’ve learned there are many good things to want in life, like being a mom, but sometimes those “good things” are not the “great things” God has planned for you. I’m thankful God got my attention in that brief moment of transition because I know my life and my relationship with Him would look so different if I hadn’t simply let Him do what He needed to do.
But the period of transition we had from being childless to having kids happened quickly. We went from one season to another with a 3-day transitional period. It wasn’t what we planned but I knew God had been preparing us. The day we went to pick them up from DHS, we were excited, yet scared, anxious, yet scared, nervous, but mostly terrified. We had no idea what to expect – we had no idea what to do with a 1 & 2 year old. But God did. They are who God chose for us in the time He chose for us to have them.
Then I began to think about other transitions Travis and I have gone through in our almost 11 years of marriage. Thinking about all the moves we’ve made, the jobs we’ve had and the places we’ve lived in. We’ve moved 5 times, had 13 jobs, and have lived in 4 states. Living in different types of homes of all kinds of square footage. And sure, those weren’t always the easiest transitions and most of them stunk big time, but now, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
But this last transition was a bittersweet one. We just recently finished a 3-month transition of Travis being gone in Texas for military training and for the time he was away, the kids and I had been staying with my family in Ellensburg, WA. And although it was nice having the support and company of my family, it didn’t give me much inspiration for writing. Maybe I could’ve had more to say if the kids and I were in Silvia (our travel trailer) alone, without Travis or family for 3 months – but I’d rather not think about that:)
While being with my family, though, I continued to have this deep longing inside of me to be somewhere that was home. We’ve had many places that we called home, but they weren’t really home to us. We simply lived there. To me, they were all periods of transition; transitioning from one place to another but never truly settling down, like a tree that is growing above but not below. It has been hard, hard because we knew every time we weren’t home. Having this constant feeling of being unsettled.
Over these last few months Travis would tell me how excited he was to come home, but all I could think to myself was, “where is home?!?!” I have always felt God pulling us in different ways and to new places, but this time is different. I don’t feel or see God moving us anywhere other than around. And, more often than not, I doubt, wondering where we are, what season we’re in, or if we’re stuck in this transitional period that, from my angle, never seems to end.
But then I take a deep breath. In spite of my struggle with transitions, I am grateful for them; sincerely grateful. At times, I become so focused on the individual steps in life, that I don’t focus on the “big picture” of what God has done and continues to do in our lives. He has grown us over the last 4 years. We’ve grown in interest, we’ve grown in knowledge and insight. We have changed in our perspectives, in our values, in our understanding and, most importantly, in our convictions. The things Travis and I have experienced over the course of our marriage is amazing, both in good and bad ways. Yet, we know each transition God allowed, He used to challenge us and grow us as individuals, parents and as Husband and Wife. And one word can sum up what most, if not all, of our experiences have taught us. That word is less. Meaning, less of me and less of what I think is best in terms of everything.
But sometimes transition feels a lot like Winter – you cannot see what is growing beneath you, so you assume nothing is. And just like the seasons – we have to go through moments of dying for regrowth. Seasons where the strength of your roots are tested by wind, drought and rain. Days when the sun is behind the clouds. And sometimes, these clouds make you wonder what you’re doing and where you’re going. I know that’s why I’m starting to view transition in a new way. It’s this preparation time; this necessary faith strengthening period. But only God knows how long that preparation time is for.
But as reassuring as that can be, it doesn’t make transition any less scary. At times it can feel like you’re taking a step in an unfamiliar direction. Not being able to see what is ahead or even see where the present step is taking you. All you hope for is sense out of it all – some sort of confirmation to what you are doing and the confidence that it’s leading you to what you believe God’s overall goal is for your family.
I believe most people would choose a steady, clear and straight road for themselves. The kind of road where you can see everything all at once so you’re not surprised when things come your way, being able to go where you want whenever you want to. Smooth sailing! It’s predictable, stable and controllable. I would think most people would choose a road like that. But a winding road – who would choose that one? A curvy road where you have to turn left and right, going uphill to mountains and downhill to valleys. Even hitting random stop signs along the way and wondering where in the world they came from. Finding yourself knee deep in the sand of a barren desert, then kneeling by green riverbanks. Standing alongside the ocean waves then getting caught up in a storm. Walking through thick forests and lush meadows, then moments later walking on the edge of a cliff. It’s not predictable – it’s not controllable – it’s not clear. Sometimes your view is hindered; sometimes you can’t see what is 2 feet in front of you. You are always, always surprised. Yet, there will always be beauty around you – only if you choose to see it. Only if you want to see it.
That’s why I love nature and why I am learning to enjoy all aspects of this crazy adventure with God. If it wasn’t for all of the transitions, I wouldn’t get to experience all that God has and wants to offer me. I wouldn’t know how beautiful a rain forest is if I haven’t been in the desert. I wouldn’t understand the height of a mountain if I stayed in the valley. I wouldn’t appreciate rain if I have never experienced drought. God’s desire is for me to see His character, and He is using transition to constantly define purpose, His purpose. But, for me, it has to start with trust. If I do not trust God then I will choose the straight and steady road every time, because the truth is, we are all in search of some inkling of comfort, of stability. We want to clock in and clock out. Live a predictable, controllable, no surprises kind of life.
But I don’t want that kind of life. Even though we still have no idea what we are doing with our lives, it doesn’t change the fact that I must trust God through the uncertainties. Understanding that transition will never end for us because God’s work in us will never be complete. He will continue to move us into new transitions and seasons, stretch us to new lengths, and teach us more of His character. The lesson of learning right from wrong will never end. We will continue to mess things up because that’s what we do. We are perfectly imperfect and in need of a Savior every single day. And, in spite of everything, God is good. He is always good. And He will continue to be good, always. As much as I wish this transition was over, I know there are reasons for why God has us where we are. I don’t want to miss what He’s trying to teach us and I shouldn’t want to leave this transition until we do. I realize this more and more each day because I am learning that there’s nothing wrong with not knowing what’s next, because God knows…I just wish He’d fill us in a little bit more:)
Less is more,