I’m in the middle of a transition in life, as are most of you I suspect. For me, I’m three days away from an interview with the US embassy in Peru that will determine if my husband receives an immigrant visa allowing us to move to the US. If it’s a “yes.” it will be his first time in the country and my first time living there in 6 years. Everything about our daily lives, including the primary language we use, will change. It’s not, nor is it going to be easy, nor is your transition easy. But there is Someone who holds it all together.
God first called me to Peru as a missionary in a moment that I can only describe as terrifying certainty. I knew, as clearly as I know my own name, what had been asked of me, and it was alarming. Ironically, in that moment I didn’t fully foresee even half of what would be required of me to get there nor what would be sacrificed. Thankfully the certainty of the call gave me a deep determination that would serve to overcome the doubts along the way, and it was simple obedience to the Lord that compelled me to take steps forward.
In one of the required trainings for beginning my ministry in Peru, the speaker described transition like the repotting of a plant. The plant is perfectly happy and adjusted in the small pot. Its roots have filled the available soil and are thriving there. The caretaker knows that the plant will ultimately flourish on a grander scale in a bigger pot. So he pulls the plant up from its happy home, even ripping apart some of those thriving roots in the process. There’s the plant, hanging in midair, roots dangling, soil falling, seemingly falling apart in this transition. The caretaker plops the plant in the larger pot, but it’s just not the same. Roots are shortened or missing altogether and it’s hard to imagine how this could be a good thing! Eventually, the plant is reaching out its roots again, stretching and adjusting in the new pot. It doesn’t happen in a moment, but ultimately the plant is growing and flourishing beyond what was possible in the small pot.
I think of that plant often, especially right now when I feel the caretaker’s hand grasping at my base, prepared to lift me from where I’ve become rooted. I know the end result is worth it – my move to Peru is my personal evidence that transitions lead to great things. Faced with a new transition, I’m looking back and asking myself: What held me together in that transition? Just like a small safety pin can hold things together, I’d like to suggest that it’s simple, small things that hold us together in these times.
Here’s what I believe held me together:
- S – Strength (Spirit): Just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians (3:14-19), it is the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with power in our inner being. It begins and ends with this power and strength. Walk in the strength of the Spirit.
- A – Appreciation: Transitions are a journey and we must appreciate each step in this journey. Verbalizing with our family or daily writing down what we’re thankful for can help us appreciate the present. Show appreciation for the journey.
- F – Flexibility: As Proverbs 16:9 says, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” We can make all the plans that we want, but we have to be ready for the Lord to direct us (and appreciate the steps we didn’t plan!). If we’re rigid in our plans, we’ll inevitably face disillusion. Let flexibility be part of the plan.
- E – Equipped: Paul is very clear in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, that God didn’t choose us because we’re so wise and strong. It’s the contrary! It’s Him that equips us for this journey we’re on. Take heart, you’ll figure it out along the way because He’s doing the equipping and providing. Remember that you are equipped by the Lord.
- T – Tenacity: We have strength from the Holy Spirit and God equips us, but we still need rapid tenacity when the going gets tough. Persistence. Steadfastness. Endurance. Grit. Stamina. Determination. Whatever it is that you want to call it, stand firm! Demonstrate tenacity.
- Y – Yet: Such a powerful word. “I don’t speak Spanish… YET.” I said that a lot in my 7 months of language school. Now I speak Spanish. Ending our sentences with “yet” can help us manage our expectations. We’ll get there, but this is a journey. It’s okay that we’re not there yet. Make “yet” part of your vocabulary.
And remember the basics everyday:
- P – Pray: Pray like you’ve never prayed before. Let your knees be marked by this transition, for those marked knees will make marks in your own life and in the lives of those around you.
- I – In: Stay IN the Word and remind yourself daily that you are IN Christ Jesus. The Bible is our code to live by. It’s foundational and can’t be set aside.
- N – Nap: Okay, so I’m stretching it a little with this last one, but seriously, you’re no good to anyone if you don’t follow the Biblical model to rest! Make your Sabbath rest any day of the week you like, but rest.
Transitions are daunting, but the Lord holds us together. It sounds cliché, and it sounds like a small thing in light of all the decisions and goings-on around you, but it is the only thing that really matters.
Do you trust the Lord to hold you together in your current transition? Can you testify to being held together in the past? What else would you add that has held you together?