Transitions are tough.
My time at camp as a counselor, program director and director… working with students with autism… as a mother… even just a patron of a grocery store going through a whole store reset… shows me the dilemma of transition.
To move on to something new you have to leave the old.
For some this is exciting, a time filled with energy and anticipation. Others approach this with dread as nervousness reigns supreme. Another might experience mourning as what was passes and it is time to let go. One might find it an adventure, a new undertaking to plan, accomplish and conquer. Maybe the moment is met with apathy, after all it really isn’t that big of a deal.
And the emotions, oh the emotions. If we aren’t careful they go unchecked and reign supreme. I talk with campers on Fridays on the varied emotions people experience as camp comes to an end for the week, why it happens, how it looks and how to not let it run the show and (potentially) ruin the day.
But transitions abound from changes in schedules, birthdays (and growing another year older), a store discontinuing your favorite product, changes in jobs, shifts in families, losing a friend, moving in to a new home… even moving into a new year.
What transitions are you facing? How do you respond to transition?
I’d like to say I handle them well. But… no other way to say this… I don’t deal with change well… at all… not even a little bit… Maybe I hold it together in public but (as my husband can attest) I’m a mess. I’m a planner and my mind runs wild with the unknowns. I’m a remember-er and change brings back a flood of what was and the mourning of what won’t be any longer. I’m a fixer and change has me trying my hardest to determine if I could have prevented it or finding another way around. I’m a fighter… so I can make things a little difficult 😉
God in His goodness had something so perfect happen to speak to my heart and I want to share it with you. I offer this story to you for the present changes you are facing. I give this example to help reflect on changes you walked (stumbled, fell into, dragged your feet through) in the past. I offer this snippet for the benefit of future transitions we both may face… may we learn the lessons it offers, take them to heart, and process what that means for our lives. Oh so very much for me and for you, too.
I’ll call this: The Dress.
To set the stage: I was driving my van, loaded with children. The moment filled with the usual noise: baby fussing, toddler babbling, kids chatting, someone whistling, arguments brewing… When Avari’s voice rose above the fray.
(not paying attention, possibly waiting it out to see if she really needed to talk to me)
Avari: “Mama, I’m gonna wear this pretty dress for Easter.”
Me: “Avari, honey, I don’t think so. That dress isn’t going to fit then.”
Avari: “Yes it will Mama. I’m going to wear this dress for Easter. I like this dress. It is so pretty. I want to wear it.”
Me: “I understand that. But it won’t fit. Easter is a long way from now and that dress is already getting too short.”
Avari: “No it isn’t. It fits fine. I want to wear it for Easter.”
Avari: (a little more indignant now) “I’m going to wear this dress for Easter.”
Me: “Avari, there are many holidays between now and Easter: Christmas, Valentines’ Day… even your birthday. I’m sure you will have a new pretty dress before Easter that you will be happy to wear.”
Avari: (getting a little loud and even more pouty) “But I want to wear this dress. It is my favorite dress and I want to wear it for Easter. I don’t care if it is too small. I want to wear this dress!”
Me: “I get that. But Easter is a long way away. Let’s just wait and see what happens.”
Avari: (so many tears, more arguments, getting angry)
God cut through the moment and spoke right to my heart. It was so powerful that I’m pretty sure I had to put my hand to my forehead to contain the intensity of the lightbulb moment. I forgot to tell you a crucial detail when I set the scene: as I was driving, I was deep in thoughts filled with uncertainty and mourning the “what wouldn’t be’s” of changes I was facing. And God… God reached right in that moment straight to my internal struggle.
Avari wanted to hold onto that dress. Actually, she was mad that the dress wouldn’t fit come Easter. She couldn’t see that her closet was proof of all the wonderful dresses she had in the past/has right now as evidence that she’d likely have very nice dress when this one no longer fit. She couldn’t trust that there would be something better in her future.
What’s more, when Avari first wore this dress she didn’t like it not.at.all.not.even.a.little.bit. The fabric was scratchy. The neck felt funny. I had to make her give it a second, even third try. And now? Now when it was time to move to a new size dress… Now she’d forgotten all of that remembering only that it was her favorite.
I’m just like Avari: mourning transitions because of things from the past that won’t be in the future when I have no idea the blessings God is bringing in the future through the change. We see it in scripture too, the tendency to take matters into our own hands, feel like the bad past is better that the unknown future, choosing to run away when things get tough, even being tempted to give up hope.
Avari has a closet full of dresses (from when she was little through dresses her sisters currently wear) that show evidence of beautiful dresses. What is our “closet of proof” of God’s faithfulness?
- Scripture- God has given us the Bible filled with evidence of his faithfulness and His promises for us. What scriptures remind you of God’s truths when the going gets tough?
- Great Cloud of Witnesses- in scripture but also in our daily living, God provides us with the testimony of others to the work of God in their lives. Who is your “great cloud of witnesses?” When facing the unknown, who can remember for you?
- Your Story- your own life is a testimony to God at work. What examples from your own life do you have to draw upon to see the hand of God at work in you?
Avari doesn’t (yet) have her Easter dress. Even so, today was the day to say goodbye to that favorite pink dress. As she put it on this morning, well, the dress was just too short to wear. So, I chose a pair of leggings for her to wear that dress one more time. And you know what she said?
“I will be okay. It is a very pretty dress. But I’m sure I will have a new, very pretty dress for Easter too.”
Easter is still about 4 months out. Let’s check back then, on her dress situation… sure, but more so on us… Let’s check back in on the situations we were facing and how God worked in them even when we couldn’t see the way through.
For today: What is going on in your life? What are you facing? Do you have a story to share from God’s faithfulness in your life that can be an encouragement for others? What scripture ministers to you when life gets bumpy?