My oldest son went to middle school orientation today. He had a little nervous energy last night, he was a bit quiet and introspective. I asked him how he felt on the drive in. He said he was ready and excited. When I dropped him off, he got out of the car confidently and walked right into his new school. As I watched him walk into the school, I was so proud of him. I was also a bit sad knowing that we are leaving behind everything that elementary school represents, being a little kid. We’re also entering everything that middle school represents, being an older kid. It seemed like this transition from elementary to middle school happened overnight. For Joey, transition is so positive and exciting. But somewhere along the development path, transition becomes somewhat scary and negative. Why? At what point does transition go from positive to negative?
I often think about transition as going from one place and getting to another place. I think of it in terms of a new destination. But it’s not a new destination. It’s the waiting room between the parking lot and the doctor’s office. Transition is its own space and process. Sometimes the time spent in the waiting room is longer than the actual appointment. That’s super annoying when you’re waiting to see a doctor and you’ve got a crying child on your lap. Yet it’s necessary when you are making major personal changes in your life. The transition time matters. I’ve come to respect the transition time so much even in the last two months. I don’t always enjoy it, but I’ve come to respect it.
Last week, I shared the power in finding your purpose. If you haven’t discovered your purpose, I wrote that you have permission to start figuring that out. You are on this planet on purpose, with a purpose. You have amazing gifts to share. People need your gifts. The world needs exactly who you were created to be. If you haven’t read that blog post, I would start there. Here’s the link. I’m learning that once your purpose is uncovered, it often leads to a period of transition. For some, maybe you haven’t left where you are yet, and you most definitely haven’t arrived at your destination. If you’re like me, you might not don’t even know exactly where you’re going yet. It can be uncomfortable and yet it’s ok to stay in discomfort. The discomfort is where I’m learning to grow my trust not just trusting that this transition will serve me well but also trusting that God has a plan.
The word transition comes from the Latin word ‘Transire’ which means going across or over. It literally refers to the process and not the result. The visual that comes to mind is a steep sloping bridge in Florida that I’ve driven over. When you’re on the first half of the bridge and haven’t reached the peak, you can clearly see where you’re coming from, but you can’t yet see where you’re going. You literally just see sky. The slope is too steep, you haven’t reached the peak of the bridge, and due to your lack of visual perspective, there’s a specific spot where you actually feel like the bridge might just end and you’ll come crashing down into the water. I don’t like that part of the bridge. It makes me feel a little sick. At some point though, you must make the decision to trust the bridge. Even though you can’t see where you’re going, you just keep moving forward. Then, suddenly, you reach the peak and can see where you’re going. Once you’ve reached the other coast, it’s easy to say, “trust the bridge and in time, you see your destination and you eventually get there.” But in the moment where you can almost feel the water submerging your car, it’s hard to trust the bridge. In the same way, it’s hard to trust transition.
Since I’m in transition, I notice that people like to label my stages of transition. They say, “you’re in the XYZ stage and there are 3-4-5 stages of transition.” There’s truth in their assessment but I’ve come to learn that transition isn’t linear like the bridge. It’s a back and forth. Every day is a little different. You take two steps forward and one step back. Then you take three steps forward and four steps back. But eventually, if you’re open to it, you progress. You move forward on the bridge. One of the things that I need to remember when I’m not feeling as much progress as I want, is this isn’t my first major transition. If you’re in transition, this isn’t your first either. Life is literally a series of transitions from very minor to major. It’s easy to underestimate the magnitude of transitions. It’s also easy to overestimate the magnitude of transitions. But just take a moment to think of the change and transition you’ve successfully managed. Child to adult (some old adults are still transitioning 😊), school age child to college student, single to married, independent person to mother, every work-related transition, sleep to awake, awake to sleep, walking to running, only child to sibling. The examples are endless. But take some time to think through some of your significant transitions. You successfully navigated the “bridge.” You trusted when you approached the peak, and you reached the other side. You can trust your ability to transition. You’ve been literally training for this your entire life. You’re a pro!
In my current season, I’m learning to trust transition. I need to remember (maybe you do too) transition doesn’t mean I’m stuck. It means I’m moving, I’m in process, I’m going across or over, so are you. Transition also means we’re going to get to grow and change to accommodate our new surroundings. What I’ve found in my experience though is that God is growing us and changing us long before we even approach the bridge. I love the verse from the bible, Isaiah 43:19:
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun. Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
Something new is coming for you. It’s coming for me too. It’s already in motion even though we don’t see the destination yet. I love that part in the verse where God says to Isaiah “Do you not see it?” God knows we’ll have the panic moment on the bridge when we can’t see anything but blue sky and blue water. But a pathway or a bridge will emerge. We’ll get to the scary point right before the peak, and you know what, we’ll just need to keep on going. I’ll be right there with you in my own transition. And before we know it, we’ll see behind us, we’ll see ahead of us and the water won’t look quite so scary, the water will be beautiful illustration of God’s hand on our lives. Trust the bridge, trust transition, trust God. We’ve successfully grown through transition, and we’ll do it again. I can’t wait to see the amazing version of us waiting on the other side.
If you’re like me and you’re navigating through a transition, is there an opportunity to reflect where you’re at and how to successfully navigate through this season? In my reflection of past seasons of heavy transition, here are some of the questions I’ve asked myself. Perhaps they will serve you in your transition.
- Do you have a mentor or guide to reach out to for support and encouragement?
- Do you have trusted friends or peers that are going through the same thing? Can you support and encourage each other?
- Are you living in alignment with your values and taking care of yourself through this time? If not, read this blog post for more info.
- Through your reflection on past transitions, can you identify learnings that you want to do more of or less of during this time?
In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs encouragement from you as she navigates a new transition? Can you be a mentor to her? Can you be a peer supporter? Have you successfully walked through a season of transition that others are struggling through? If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!
EncourageHer Leader’s Corner: I have learned that many of the people that read this blog are people leaders, leaders of leaders, or leaders in their own businesses or organizations. As a result, I want to provide some context for you specifically as you step into your leadership.
Are the people or business you lead in a period of transition? If so, your role as the leader is more important than ever. The hardest times in my career during a major transition were the times when I had a leader that was too uncomfortable to get into the weeds with me during a time of transition. When that would happen, it would indirectly tell me one of a few things. First, if they were intentionally avoiding the real pain points of the transition (things they didn’t want to hear or address), it reinforced that they were more concerned with their personal comfort than they were concerned with supporting me. If they were avoiding the pain points unintentionally, it told me they lacked self-awareness and the ability to read the team culture. Either way, it reduces trust in leadership when that happens. Trust is key during times of transition. Here are some prompts that you may consider incorporating into your business, organization, ministry or even your home.
- I want to acknowledge all the change and transition you’re experiencing. It’s a lot. I don’t want to assume I know how you’re feeling. How are you doing?
- During times of change, transition and potentially stress, it’s more important than ever that you’re living in alignment with your values, how’s that going?
- How are you taking care of yourself during this time?
- Do you have a trusted mentor or coach that can be helpful to you in processing this change? As the leader, you can’t be the solution for everything, make sure your team knows there are external resources that can help them during this time.
- Do you have a group of peers that you’re connecting with on a regular basis that can be a source of encouragement and support?
- In reflecting on past transitions, is there anything you want to incorporate more or less of that helped you in the past?
- For those of you who are leaders of leaders or running a business, check in to make sure each of your leaders has a plan to check in with their team. Everyone deserves this type of support during times of transition.
- Are there any other needs you have that could support your transition?
- If you think trust might be broken, check-in! And know that if trust is truly broken, you will need to work to establish trust again before you get an honest answer.
I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!