Transition. It’s a word that conjures up many different things and situations for people. Transition is a word derived from a Latin word meaning, ‘to go across’, it’s a word that describes change, yet is much more than a physical change. It’s a deeper thing – we change clothes, we experience the weather change, changes happen and we generally move with them. Transition on the other hand is a deeper work, an ‘inside job’ that involves feelings, emotions, mindsets, beliefs – pretty much all of the things we can’t see!
Being a Mum of four children, I can recall very clearly the transition stage of labour – it caught me off guard the first time (as did the whole process really!!), but as I experienced it each time I began to see it for what it was – a signpost to a whole new reality. I experienced it as this moment in time where all my feelings changed. I was always excited when labour hit and was never taken seriously until examined because I came in excited and smiling, keen to meet this little person… my enthusiasm carried me through the first stage of labour mentally. Then transition hits and the world turns upside down. I know I’m there when the overwhelming feeling is, ‘I’m done!’ I remember asking, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore, can I just go home now?’ It gets irrational to the point of thinking I’ll just stay pregnant forever, or maybe come back another day… let’s just pull up stumps here and call it a day… It seemed so reasonable to me!
Transition in life happens in a similar way – maybe because we are being metaphorically pushed through a birthing canal to begin a new thing. What once was a caterpillar is now breaking forth from a cocoon. It’s painful! It’s confusing! It’s a storm of frustration and emotion and the things that used to give you your bearings are no longer helping, no longer righting the ship. You are different, but you look the same. You haven’t changed shape but nothing seems to fit right anymore.
Transition takes time. Change can happen quickly, but transition is a process. The caterpillar isn’t a butterfly overnight. The baby (unfortunately) isn’t born instantly. When we change a belief system or a mindset it also takes time. When you transition from child to adult it happens over time – you fluctuate between each stage until finally you are living far more from the adult mindset than the child’s. When you get married, the ceremony happens in a moment, but the transition from single to married takes time. When you have children the transition to being a parent is a process of time. The baby arrives at a certain point in time, but the mindset of a parent takes time. The length of time of this process, much like birthing a child is also an unknown. There are those that seem to effortlessly move through it quickly and then those long laborious, seemingly eternal transition periods that feel like you’ll never emerge out the other side.
The hardest part of transition for me is the sense of failure that comes with it. Don’t be thrown by it! I don’t like failing, but I find with transition periods in my life I inevitably feel like this. It’s like what I used to be and what I used to do isn’t working anymore. All of a sudden it feels like I don’t belong the way I used too, or my thinking is changed. It’s the good ol’ ‘I’m done, can I go home now?’ feeling. It’s moving toward the new but uncomfortable, but longing for the old and comfy. You don’t fit here, but you don’t seem to fit there either. There is always a choice in transition – you can turn back, but from what I’ve observed, those that do rarely change from that point. It becomes a ceiling over them that is now much harder to break.
Transition is necessary for growth and to live into your destiny. I don’t believe any of us are born knowing all we need to know to reach the potential that was built within us. We all have periods of transition to work our ways through. Where things squeeze us and prick us as we struggle along. As we feel displaced and overwhelmed. Though it doesn’t feel good, it is doing a good work in you. You are expanding into a new season, the pressure is establishing and refining who you’re growing into.
Here’s a few handrails I’ve found helped in the transition:
- Stay close to the One who knows more than you do.
- Stay open to the process, even if it feels like the blows keep coming. If it’s an entrenched mindset, it’s not going to budge overnight.
- Stay true to what you know is truth.
- Be kind to yourself. When things are shaky, it’s no time to neglect yourself! Go for that walk, watch that movie, give yourself grace in the moments that you feel failure and discomfort, trusting that you will emerge out the other side.
Let me encourage you today if you find yourself in one of these prickly, uncomfy, downright annoying seasons of transition – hang in there! If you can learn to just ‘be’ in the midst of the emotions, you will emerge out the other side into a new season, a new you, a new way of thinking. We were designed to grow and change. We were created to learn and adapt. Hang in there and as Paul said in Eph 6:13, when you’ve done all, stand. You will emerge out the other side and it will all be worth it.