Transition: the process or an instance of changing from one form, state, activity, or place to another. Easy? Hardly. And right now, it seems that everyone and everything I know is in some form of transition.
The country – what is happening to us? How long has this transition been going on and when will it end? Into what are we changing? Is it for the better or worse? Who knows?
My friends – some are going back to school to begin new careers, while others are retiring. Some are building lives around empty nests, and some are having babies. And many are caught in the sandwich of caring for elderly parents while simultaneously trying to meet the needs of their children and grandchildren.
My own family – one sister is transitioning from band mom to Marine mom, another is a grandmother to a teenager, my brother is counting the days to retirement, my sweet mom is mourning the death of her oldest sister, and well, y’all know my ongoing transitions. Transitions are not easy.
How do we endure changes that pull us in multiple directions without falling apart? How do we navigate the ocean of emotion without capsizing? How do we keep molehills from becoming mountains? How do we move beyond the blinding darkness of the unknown into the light of tomorrow’s new dawn?
How do we change into something new or different, into the next stage, into the next place in life, without losing who we are? Can we? Do we? Are we supposed to?
Transitions have always been difficult for me. When my children were little, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, who was known as “America’s Pediatrician” was on television talking about transitions and he said something like: Life is a series of transitions, when we anticipate, plan, and prepare for them, they are easier. Right. Got it. Anticipate. Prepare. Plan. Easy. Wrong.
Maybe I’m not anticipating correctly. Or I’m preparing poorly. Or I’m caught off guard with lack of planning. Or something. My transitions have always included conflict, heartache, misunderstandings, poor timing, and usually brokenness before I am able to leave behind the old and move into the new.
Whether it is a stage in life, a relationship change, or a move to a new place – almost every transition has been difficult. I guess I like things to just stay the way they are. But they never do. You’d think I’d learn that eventually.
However, in this season of transition (ah, yes, there’s always a season of transition), I decided – finally, you might say – to look at how Jesus handled his transitions.
Can you imagine the transition Jesus experienced when he stepped away from the glory that was his in heaven – Jesus, the Word who was with God and who was God. Jesus, who existed in the beginning with God. Jesus, through whom all things were created. Jesus who gave life to everything that was created and whose life brought light to everyone (John 1:1-4) – became a human baby!
Talk about a transition! How did he do it? What can I learn from him? The Apostle Paul makes it clear how he did it: by being humble and thinking of others as better than himself. Jesus didn’t look out only for his own interests, but took an interest in others. And, then, Paul challenges me to have the same attitude that Christ had:
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being (Philippians 2:6-7a NLT).
Is humility the key to transitioning well?
Jesus went through another transition at age twelve when he stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents were frantic – as I tend to get during transitions — yet, his response was so calm: “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house (Luke 2:29 NLT)?
Is staying close to God the key to transitioning well?
Jesus also transitioned from living as a private citizen, a carpenter, to a public minister. That transition was fraught with opposition, the likes of which we will probably never experience, and included being tempted by the devil for forty days (Luke 4:2 NLT). Jesus rebuked and withstood the devil’s onslaught through the Word of God.
Is knowing and applying God’s Word the key to transitioning well?
After living a perfect life, preaching, teaching, healing, restoring, and performing untold miracles, Jesus died on the cross in your place and mine, enduring yet another transition. The perfectly righteous Jesus took on your sin and mine – he became sin – and died so that we would not have to. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross (Philippians 2:7b-8 NLT).
Is obedience the key to transitioning well?
Clearly, trying to hang on tightly to what we have, attempting to short-circuit changes, or working to maintain the status-quo will not bring about an easy transition. Truly, Jesus has showed us how: Live humbly, walk close to God, know God’s Word and apply it, and live in loving obedience.
How well do you transition? I trust you’ve had less friction than me, but if not, perhaps keeping our eyes on Jesus, and humbly following his example will help us.
Speaking of transitions – My good-looking husband, Brian (who has always transitioned well), will be moving into a new decade on Wednesday! Happy Birthday, Brian!
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