Are you experiencing the tension of transition? Waiting in the “already/not yet” space of leaving what was and not yet realizing what will be? Many refer to this place as the hallway between closed and not-yet-open doors. Although times of transition can be stressful, scary, and secluded, God wants to meet us here. Learn the vital biblical truths we can cling to during times of transition.
What Does The Place Of Transition Look Like?
The place of transition. It’s a place we all dread, isn’t it?
- The hard place.
- The dark place.
- The lonely place.
In The Tension of Transition, Irish pastor Craig Cooney uses the metaphor of a hallway to describe and define this place of waiting:
“People say that God never shuts one door without opening another one. That may be true. But they never tell you about the hallway in-between” (pg. 1).
For me, the “hallway in-between” represents the already/not yet space of leaving what was and not yet realizing what will be. Picture yourself exiting one phase or aspect of your life and moving forward to the next new opportunity or season. The steps you take in the hallway, whether long or short, filled with anxiety or anticipation, doubt, or certainty—is what transition looks and feels like.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines transition as “a change or shift from one state, subject, place, etc. to another; a period or phase in which such a change or shift is happening; something that links one state, subject, place, etc. to another: a connecting part or piece.”
We may also refer to transitions as seasonal life changes. In the hallway of transition, we may be waiting for:
- A job to turn into a meaningful career.
- A relationship to blossom and grow.
- A child to take ownership and responsibility.
- A new place to feel like home.
- A wounded heart to heal and open again.
We may also think of transitional periods of life as analogous to planting and harvesting. It is so easy to lose faith and hope during the planting season as you stare at dirt fields waiting to see signs of life. It is like remaining in a dark, damp hallway with no light, no movement, no signs of life. During times of transition, it can feel like all our sowing efforts are vain attempts as we wait to see the fruit of our labor.
Why We Do Not Like Life Transitions
I don’t like to wait in the hallway any more than you do, my friend. And searching for signs of life after wandering for days in the desert is discouraging and disheartening.
We find it hard to handle life’s transitions because we live in a society where waiting is viewed as an imposition. Whether it is at the doctor’s office, at a stoplight, or for a table in a restaurant, waiting has negative connotations that have to do with power and control. How dare you make me wait? Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you realize what I must do? Can’t you see that I have places to go?
Now, take a moment and apply those very thoughts and reactions to waiting in the hallway of life’s transitions. Talk about feeling powerless, fearful, and out of control!
We might feel the momentary release of leaving a relationship, place, or situation, but we only want to use the hallway in-between to get to the other side. Of course, we understand that we need a connector between the already/not yet spaces, but surely God will not let us waste away waiting in the hallway, will he? We want our transitions to be quick, neat, and painless.
Like driving through a tunnel on the highway or walking through the jetway after getting off a plane, we expect to keep moving toward our destination as we transition from one place to another.
But more often than not, the tension of a transition is like a boat stuck between two distant shores. In the book, The Miracle in the Middle, Charlotte Gambill explains that the middle is where we will encounter the most brutal storms.
“In the middle is when we are at the most vulnerable point, too far away from the last shore to reach back for safety and not close enough to the next shore to grasp it. In the middle the test is internal, while all the challenges are external” (pg. 50).
But maybe there are lessons to be learned in the hallways, tunnels, and jetways.
Perhaps God wants us to feel the tension of transition so that we will turn to him.
Identifying 3 Types of Life Transitions
Before we can prepare to meet God in the middle of a life transition, it helps to identify what kind of change or shift we may be experiencing. Although not exhaustive, I have learned that transitions can fall into three basic categories.
- A Traumatic Transition
This type of transition usually involves a sudden unexpected circumstance that forces us into the place of “in-between” without much warning or notice.
It could be losing a job, a death in the family, a traumatic betrayal, or a life-altering medical diagnosis.
The tension in this transition is overwhelming. We can get angry with God, lose hope, and collapse emotionally. As we wait in the hallway, it may feel like the walls are closing in, and there is no way out.
- A Tedious Transition
This is where we feel like a hamster running on a wheel, moving fast and furiously but getting nowhere.
We feel stuck and hopeless and have lost purpose and passion.
The tension of this transition is the fear and uncertainty of the unknown. We no longer see or know our destination. The hallway feels unbelievably dark and secluded, and we are left questioning ourselves, others, and God.
- A Tense Transition
A tense transition is one full of all-consuming pain and suffering. We have reached our limits and run to the hallway to escape without a clear exit plan or strategy.
We become so concerned with removing ourselves from a toxic situation or relationship that any change is a relief.
Yet, once we reach the apparent “safety” of the hallway, we are left with the mental and emotional baggage of leaving. Depression and anxiety can be all too real in the tension of this kind of transition.
How God Meets Us In the Place of Transition
Despite my desire to walk briskly through the hallway in-between to the next open door, I have learned a profound truth about life’s transitions: it is the place where God is waiting to meet us.
Whether it is a traumatic, tedious, or tense transition that has forced you to seek God in the hallway, you need to know that he is there. And that he may have brought you to this transitional period in your life to protect you from an unhealthy situation, provide better opportunities for you, or prepare for you a greater season of growth.
God speaks to us in the hallway. It is the place where he brings comfort to us as we wait on his timing, lean on his promises, and stand in his truth.
The Bible offers these hope-filled promises:
“God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times” (Lamentations 3:25, The Message).
5 Biblical Ways to Survive the Tension of Transition
Take the time to assess your surroundings and identify your transition. Pause to pray and reflect.
Resist the urge to give in, give up, or run ahead; instead, use this time to stop and think.
Quiet yourself so you can listen to and read the signposts that God may be showing you.
Acknowledge your position and be patient by remembering who you are and what you believe. Pause and wait patiently for the Lord.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, New International Version).
Let go of doing in the tension of transition and rest in just being.
Give yourself permission to breathe, rest, and regroup. Allow yourself to experience the emotions that arise during this season of change without judgment or criticism.
Realize that God is close to you in this place and lean into him before relying on your effort or strength or reaching out to others.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” (Psalm 34:18, New Living Translation).
Change your mindset. Transition is not about claiming the final product but learning through the process.
Understand that the time spent in the hallway in-between is a time to strengthen your faith, lean on God’s promises, and dig deep into biblical truth before opening the next door of opportunity.
Avoid comparing your journey to others because everyone’s process will look different.
“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Psalm 25:5, English Standard Version).
Whether your time of transition is a few weeks or a few years, you must be careful not to become too comfortable in the hallway.
Purge yourself of the past to plan for the future. People, places, and/or things can either hold you back or propel you forward.
Transitional periods allow you to take inventory of where you have been and where God is leading you next. Include God in your plans by seeking his wisdom and guidance even if you cannot fully understand what he is doing.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).
Expect testing and trials during the tension of transition. Even if God is closing and opening doors in your life, there are hallways in-between that you must walk through to get to the other side.
Do not let your time in transition break you; instead, let it build you.
Take the next right step (however small or insignificant) and persist in walking your spiritual journey by faith. If you continue, you will grow and mature, ready for the next season with purpose and passion.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (James 1:2-4, MSG).
Although waiting in the hallway in-between might not be the place we would choose to meet each other, I hope I can be an encouragement to you as you navigate the tension of transition. I know it can be a dark, lonely, and fearful place.
My challenge to anyone experiencing the tension of transition (including myself): Don’t be too quick to rush out of the hallway to find your next open door, or you may miss the opportunity to meet God in this place. Use the time in the hallway in-between to lean into the Holy Spirit and learn from him. If we embrace transitional seasons, they allow for profound growth and connection as the Lord prepares us for what awaits us on the other side.