by Olivia-Grace Phillips
My mother says that it’s healthy to have just one major life change per year. As you come out of this season of chaos and confusion, you are well aware that many things have changed over the course of the last eighteen months. You are right to feel shaken, disoriented, or even laid low. You are right to feel.
Lately I’ve done a lot of transitioning. In addition to applying to and attending college, meeting the end of my teenage years, moving to a new city, and changing career paths, I (along with all of you) have adapted and readapted to major changes brought on by a global pandemic that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Yet after some time and over a year in quarantine the transitions continue. What I’ve realized is that the majority of life is lived in transition. Pregnancy is defined by its nine-month term, not labor which only takes several hours. The walk to my local Starbucks takes ten minutes; even though it only takes five minutes to get my latte. Packing for a big move takes days, even weeks. However, going from your old home to your new home may only take hours.
Transitions aren’t always physical, though. Sometimes they are emotional or spiritual. These types of transitions don’t have a predetermined length. The transition after the passing of a loved one. The transition after giving up drugs or alcohol. The transition after a breakup or divorce. These transitions are the hardest. Changing career paths only took a couple steps, but I’m still grappling with the huge shift in my identity. Moving to a new city only took about a month or so, but almost three months later I’m struggling to find my role within a new community.
Through my recent transitions I have learned that although things change, many things stay the same. If I set my mind on what is the same, I can find stability. Although I’m in a new place, I’m still in the same body. To tap into that I meditate, do yoga, and other somatic activities that help connect me to my body. Although I don’t have the same job title, I still have the same gifts and talents. What can I do to tap into those gifts in this season of confusion? Most importantly, the ultimate constant to find solace in is The Lord. He is the same God today, tomorrow, and forevermore.
Another thing I learned is to be kind to yourself during these times. I was recently having a conversation and something to live by came out: Don’t should on yourself. “I should be there by now, I should feel this by now, or I should do this.”
“Shoulding” on yourself has an expectation of defeat and despair. “I should do this, or this bad thing will happen” or “I should do that or else I’ll be a failure.” The Bible tells us to expect good things. We can act with the expectation that good things to happen to us and through us, not sit paralyzed by the fear of things going wrong.
The most important thing I’ve learned during times of difficulty during transition is to turn to God. Transitions are hard. However, there’s good news. God sees you. He sees your struggles. He does more than just acknowledge you, He comes to give us wisdom, peace, and comfort.
One of the greatest transitions in The Word is that of Joshua. In the book of Joshua, Moses has died and the mantle has been passed to a man named Joshua. He is responsible for leading the Israelites to the promised land. Joshua assumes his new role in Joshua chapter I. God knows that this is a huge responsibility for Joshua, a man freed from slavery who has now risen to a leadership position. So, God speaks to Joshua and tells him to “be strong and courageous.” FOUR TIMES.
God is not one to waste his breath. God wants us to know that he will remind and guide us through transitions. He won’t just “pop in” give us some simple advice and leave. No. He will come and consistently encourage us, reminding of the tools we have in order to power through. He is ever present in our time of struggle.
Olivia-Grace Phillips is an aspiring writer and editor. Olivia-Grace Phillips is in her second year at DePaul University where she is studying Communication and Media with a minor in Screenwriting. Coming from four generations of ministry on both sides of her family, she has a great passion for the church and serving others. She volunteers on the communications team at City Church Chicago and the production team at Soul City Church.