Transition is not easy.
I’d like to think that I’ve mastered it after living abroad for 5 years, spending a year traveling all over internationally, and then a year moving across the United States—in which I moved every 4-7 days, visited more than 100 cities in 33 states, and stayed with as many hosts (as cities).
I’d like to think I’ve mastered transition, but I am still clueless as to how I will arrive and how the new space, people, and responsibilities will affect me.
I always think I’m ready for something new, ready to leave the pallid rhythms of everyday for new. Ready to leave my present for something better.
But then, no matter how prepared I am, when I end up in that new space, role, environment – I find that I arrive with insecurity I thought I’d left behind.
The Me I Can’t Escape
I find myself outwardly functioning but inwardly floundering. Longing for a place where I fit in and where people see me for who I truly am; a place where I am appreciated and wanted. A place where I finally feel like I’m doing something worthwhile, something that makes me feel alive.
But that hasn’t happened.
Struggling with emotions that usually aren’t labelable…. Finding again, that no matter where I go, I go with me. With all of my foibles and feelings—my habits—undiscipline, and lack of experience.
I cannot escape myself.
All my frustrations come with me. I do not find that when I change my environment or the demands on my life that I am a more gracious, patient, kind person. I do not find that I desire less, or need less. In fact I find that this new space highlights, even brighter, my lacks.
I have spent the last decade in transition after transition. This latest transition has taken me back to my childhood neighborhood, a dear and familiar church—but with a new community—and opened me up to a new season: dating.
I came here to help a friend of a friend for a few months while I continued to pray about where I should go and what I should do after leaving my nanny position in Houston, where I’d spent the last two years.
The few-month commitment then turned into a longer commitment.
Hearing God in New Ways
There were a few hard weeks transitioning my thoughts of what the year would look like. Letting go of some hopes and trying to come to terms with the this.
Staying meant continuing to live with someone who didn’t have the capacity for deep friendship, and helping her out on a daily basis. …It also meant keeping my very own room, bathroom included, rent free. My very own room…something I hadn’t had for quite a bit. A room I could lock, and no one else had a right to enter.
But transitioning from traveling and a kind of independent freedom back to everyday normal life in the same place again…I didn’t know if I wanted to do that again after two covid nannying years in Houston. That too had initially only been a few months commitment. It had been good – but hard too. Could I do that again? Did I want to?
When I got here (mid-California), there was a lot of good and a lot of new. Provision and possibilities and also, new problems; like loneliness, and work conflict.
And silence. The last three years have been marked with silence in answer to prayers over “what’s next?” The transition from clarity in prayer to this kind of, “well then…this is what I’m going to do. And if it’s not the right path, then please change my direction!” has been hard. It’s been confusing. It has caused me to realize that God has seasons of teaching us to hear him in new ways.
As I prayed over what transition I should choose for this year, I got the image of him sitting across from me and placing his hand on a piece of paper with his question to me from last year on it.
What do you want, Carolyn?
I still didn’t know.
Another transition of growth.
For me those have looked like the Lord suddenly allowing a new place in my life or mind to be stirred up. – A new place to be addressed and challenged, and healed.
A friend told me this last week, “I love the obedience to God in your life!”
“What are you talking about?” I asked, laughing a bit. After all my prayer and agonizing, I’d finally decided to stay and take a few classes to see if I wanted to pursue my Masters in Counseling Education. I felt clueless and frustrated with my year plans. I felt unanswered.
“God asked you what you wanted and you’re taking classes to figure it out!”
Wow. Thank God for community. I had not even considered that.
After he said it, it seemed so clear to me. It made me hopeful for the Fall.
Other hopeful things in this period of transition?
Right now the thought of a relationship that could lead to marriage is something I ponder with mild delight and trepidation.
I’m taking time to meet with and read books by godly women, to ask and hear the wisdom they can impart on me about life: the hard, good, ugly, and beautiful. The joys and sorrows. The hard asks and the forgivenesses…
I’ve started to see a counselor to address some of the compounded stirred stuff that’s come up this last transition.
In it all, I wrestle with who I know myself to be. Who I know humans to be. And in the midst of this horrible wonderful life I consider the more.
The one hope I cling to when I feel stuck somewhere, or when I’m in the midst of hard transitions, is the promise that transcends my now—one that transcends all earthly circumstantial nows—and that is God’s promise that he will finish what he started. That he will transform me into the image of Christ. That one day my life will be ripe with peace and patience, joy and kindness, gentleness and faithfulness, self control, goodness and love.
For this transition, I long. That one day I could look back on all the transitions and say, “it is well with my soul!” That I could look at my life, see all he has done, and say, “it is good.”
So in pondering future transitions—as dubious as they make me feel—I hold this hope tightly, “In every birth and in every death, God is in fact moving us toward the life He promised; the details just won’t look anything like we expected.” – Paul Angone (1)
And I realize, that’s OK. Because he is with me in the transitions.
Surprise me with goodness, Lord!
- Paul Angone, All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, epub edition 2015), 200.