Managing ‘Transitions’ [v128]

OCTOBER 2009

MANAGING ‘TRANSITIONS’
Last month I talked about sort of a ‘transition’—the “prodigal”—someone that wandered astray from loved ones to search for a change in their lives that would bring them their ‘freedom’.

Well this month, since my son, Tyler, ‘transitioned’ to college at Central Michigan University, I want to discuss, in more general terms, the concept of ‘transitions’ in our lives—how they come into our lives at many different times, in many ‘forms’, and how we can manage them ‘successfully’.

Some transitions are the result of choices we make: going to college; changing jobs or careers; getting a new car; getting married or divorced; having a baby; moving to another house or different city; how to care for your elderly parents; how to care for your family when you die—and so on. Some are part of the normal progression of life: graduations; promotions; and “retirement” (can anyone even do this anymore?). Some come unexpectedly: illness; downsizing; having to relocate; an accident; the death of a loved one; or even what will happen to us in the next minute!

All transitions, both those we seek and those that surprise us, require a ‘transition’. They are a threat to the ‘usualness’ of our lives. Often, even though we know transitions are coming, we are unprepared for our reactions to them. They may awaken fears about the future, and frustrations with things that are out of our control.

In a broader sense however, transitions are life’s way of ‘asking’ us to re-examine our present way of being. Whatever the degree or intensity of the event, every transition we experience has one thing in common. It forces us to ‘transition’ our existing life.

The good news is that transitions are ‘springboards’ into our future—like Tyler’s college education will do for him, preparing him for his future career choices. Whether timely or not, they put us in a position to find out what we are ‘made of’, what our foundational ‘beliefs’ are, and what we may want to ‘focus’ on the rest of our lives. Transitions allow us to become the author of the next ‘chapter’ of our lives.

Whatever type of transition we face, the one thing they all have in common is that any transition always requires some sort of ‘ending’—just like the “prodigal” is ‘ending’ their relationship with their father—we all must say ‘goodbye’ to whatever we are ‘leaving’: the school, the neighborhood, the home, the family, or the old ‘self’.

Transitions typically mark an ending followed by a time of self-reflection, which hopefully, leads to a new beginning or outlook on life. Every life transition asks us to ‘let go’ of a past way of thinking or doing—and by doing so, we are given the opportunity to replace the old way of being with something new and better. During the transitional period however, we usually feel uncomfortable, almost ‘disconnected’ with our environment and even ourselves. While this is natural to some extent, if you can’t move through this phase, these feelings can often overwhelm you, sending you ‘spinning’ out of control into emotional turmoil. Many times, people turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to numb the anxiety and stress of these transitional times. Admittedly, life isn’t always fair, but often the most good comes out of what seems at the time to be a completely overwhelming experience.

Even when the transition is a good one, we need to acknowledge a loss or change, and sometimes we need to actually ‘grieve’. Trying to skip this step, or pretending there are no feelings about an ending, usually does not work. Fortunately, we have ‘rituals’ that help in this process. We hold graduation ceremonies, promotion dinners, and moving-away parties to both honor the end, and celebrate the new beginning.

Transitions are difficult because we unconsciously, or even consciously, resist change. As humans, it seems like every ‘fiber’ of our being is innately ‘programmed’ to resist anything new or unknown to us. Whether we realize it or not, even good changes like winning the “Publisher’s Clearing House” sweepstakes, can cause us to feel stressed and uneasy. On some level, we are simply not comfortable with the unknown.

People who do not truly say ‘goodbye’ to the past life may have difficulty in the new one. When too many of our thoughts go back to the old friends, old job, old school or how things used to be, we have no energy left to participate in the new life in front of us.

Though endings can be hard and new beginnings scary, the hardest part of a transition is the middle, ‘uncertain’ phase. During this time it’s difficult to know if our decisions have been good ones. We are unclear if the path we are on will turn out for the best. However, we can usually tolerate that ‘up-in-the-air’ feeling if the transition has meaning for us. In fact, the uncertainty can be exhilarating if we feel that we are moving closer to a goal we desire.

One of the most important ‘conscious’ “endings” we all go through is preparing for our death—and, in my opinion, the most important “new beginnings” you could choose is to be with God forever—but you have to make that choice while you’re alive!

There are many practical ‘strategies’ for successfully managing the transitions that happen to us here on earth. A few are: Develop supportive relationships; Reduce high stress levels; Eat a balanced diet and exercise; Get plenty of rest; Be more open and flexible; Learn to notice transitions; Foster a positive attitude; Make regular time to be alone; Set realistic short- and long-term goals; Reward yourself for progress; Help other people; and take ‘charge’ of your thoughts and actions.

Another ‘strategy’ that has helped me through some tough times was written by author, Carol Van Atta. I will summarize what she wrote using the acronym “L.E.A.N. O.N. G.O.D.” to help us remember the ‘best way’ to experience a “new beginning”:

L: Live in the Truth:
Without a foundation of truth, we are prone to fall prey to lies, lies that increase our pain and keep us from growing and moving forward. [“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32].

E: Enlist others for support:
New beginning times are best faced in the safety net of a group of caring and competent Christian friends. Find support, encouragement, and help from others who have experienced similar circumstances, and be open to their aid. [“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” John 15:13].

A: Approach God boldly:
Christians have the amazing opportunity to approach God with boldness and confidence. We need not face anything without God’s help. Go to Him boldly, after all, He tells us we can. [“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” Ephesians 3:12].

N: Never give up:
Remember no matter what our present circumstance may look like, no matter how difficult letting go might be, with God, we win in the end. [“…I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” Philippians 3:14].

O: Overcome obstacles:
Lingering negative feelings and thoughts can become obstacles that keep us stuck. With God’s help and the support of others, we can continue forward, getting rid of whatever holds us back. [“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” Romans 12:21].

N: Neutralize the ‘enemy’:
The Bible is very clear that we, as Christians, have an enemy—the devil—the enemy of our souls. He would like to ‘destroy’ us and keep us from accepting God’s plan for our lives. We can disarm the devil by utilizing the “armor” that God so generously provides. [“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes. You may be able to stand your ground…” Ephesians 6:13].

G: Go forward with God:
We don’t need to continue by our own power. In fact, our limited human power won’t be enough—but with God, all things are possible. Allow Him to lead, as you lean on Him. [“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” 
Philippians 4:13].

O: Open your eyes:
Take a look around at the beauty surrounding you on your journey. As you embrace your new beginning, you will discover (if you open your eyes) the wondrous ways God is working in and around you. [“Ah, Sovereign Lord , you have made the heavens and earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you” Jeremiah 32:17].



D: Decide to Worship:
Praising God in the midst of any situation brings blessings far beyond our greatest expectations. Worship touches the very heart to God, and in turn He will touch yours. [“Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” John 4:21-24].

So, the Bible says that one cannot do any of these unless we have “gone forward with God.” Every one of us has to ‘make it right’ with Him if we are to expect His best for us.

God promises that He will help us through any ‘transition’ (even if that transition is ‘turning away’ from our old way of life to a new one focused on Him – [“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:16-18].

God also promises that He will never leave us ‘alone’—that He ‘sees’ far beyond the pain we might be experiencing during our transition, and will make our new beginning ‘beneficial’ to us—and to those around—if we’ll let Him.

In the Bible, the prophet Jeremiah reminds us that God’s “compassions never fail. They are new every morning” [Lamentations 3:22-23], and that God will be “faithful” with His mercy and love—forever and always.

When we’re in the midst of letting go, we can find ourselves burdened by a barrage of obstacles—things on our path that can keep us from walking through the ‘door’ to a better tomorrow. As was mentioned previously, certain feelings of grief and heartache need to be part of the new beginning process. Lingering negative feelings and thoughts can become obstacles that keep us ‘stuck’. Though, with God’s help, and the support of others, we can continue forward, getting rid of whatever holds us back.

That’s what the “Good News” of the Gospel is all about—God’s intervention into our lives by offering His Son as our ‘payment’ for all the wrongdoing we have committed in our lives, and the promise of a never-ending life with Him in Heaven!

If you haven’t already done so, let me suggest you ‘lean on’ God right now—and expect one glorious new beginning after another.

 Each new day we can be filled afresh with the power of the Holy Spirit—Who will help you in your new beginnings. Won’t you invite Him to ‘fill’ you afresh right now?

So, go ahead, ‘lean’ on God, and expect a TRANSITION to something ‘glorious’—and something that will never end!

[P.S.: If you would like to investigate further how you can grow closer to God in the here and now, visit the following link:

http://www.4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q12_d1_1of10.html ].

[Excerpts from: Carol Van Atta; Mary DuParri; United Behavioral Health; R.J. Fetsch; S. Quick; M. Rupured]

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v128) for OCTOBER 2009

If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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BEGINNINGS

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” [Martin Luther King Jr.]

“In actual life every great enterprise begins with and takes its first forward step in faith.” [August Wilhelm von Schlegel]

“All glory comes from daring to begin.” [Eugene F Ware]

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LAND OF NEW BEGINNINGS

I wish there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again,

Where all our mistakes

And all our heartaches

And all our poor, selfish greed,

Could be dropped
Like a shabby, old coat at the door

And never put on again.


I wish we could come on it all unawares
Like the hunter who finds a lost trail,

And I wish that the one

Whom our blindness has done

The greatest injustice of all,

Could be at the gate
Like an old friend who waits
For the comrade he’s gladdest to hail.

So I wish there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again,

Where all the mistakes

And all the heartaches
And all our poor, selfish greed,

Could be dropped

Like a shabby old coat at the door

And never put on again.
[Louise F. Tarkington]

*****************************
‘GEOMETRIC’ CHANGE
While some things never change, we can’t say that about life in the last century. I read that if we were to put all the world’s knowledge from the beginning of time until 1845 on a graph it would measure only 1 inch tall. From 1845 to 1945 —just 100 years—the graph would measure 3 inches tall. But from 1945 until today the graph would be as tall as the Washington monument!

Change, rapid change, has become the order of the day. They say that today’s average worker will need to be retrained at least three times during his working career to keep up with all the changes. Changes in technology, our manner of living, relationships, beliefs, philosophy, manner of dress, morals, and so on, is happening so fast it is difficult to keep up with it all. It can leave us reeling and stressed to the max.

And while we have learned how to put a man on the moon and talk to him while he is there, we hardly know how to talk to one another in a meaningful manner when we are in the same room! Much of our modern education with access to almost unlimited knowledge has taught us how to make a living, but it hasn’t taught us how to live.

And without an anchor for the soul we can be left floating on a restless changing sea of uncertainty and insecurity. But for those who have faith in God, of this one thing we can be absolutely sure—He changes not! His love is from everlasting to everlasting and he is still in control of the world and universe no matter what.

In the U.S. we have engraved on our coins, “In God We Trust.” But until that is engraved on our hearts and we genuinely trust in the God who changes not, we will have no lasting security.

T.O. Chisholm wrote:

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been Thou for ever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
[Dick Innes]

*****************************
TRANSITIONS
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
[Martin Luther King, Jr.]

“Not in his goals but in his transitions is man great.”
[Ralph Waldo Emerson]

“Life is pleasant.” Death is peaceful.” It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
[Isaac Asimov]

*****************************
DEEP THOUGHT:
“Change is not merely necessary to life, it is life.”
[Alvin Toffler]

*****************************
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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!  Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” [Romans 12:2].

Mark

*****************************
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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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