Transitions

So, I’m about three and half months into my new job and new home (same city, same company), but I’ve really had a rough go of it. Having been in my first and only job for 18 years before this, I am surprisingly still off balance a bit. I forget things easily, can’t recall words hanging in the front of my brain, need more sleep, feel emotionally detached and then overwhelmingly emotional.

There’s grief in leaving my former team, and missing them and the way we did things there. There’s excitement about learning and exercising new skills. There’s learning a new office culture and being the “new person.” It’s just been a lot more than I knew would come. Then again, how can you know?

One book that has been helpful to me is called Transitions (surprise!) by William Bridges. He gives examples of transitions such as marriage, promotion, loss, moving, etc.  Here are some of the main points from the book that have provided context to my experience, followed in italics by my response.

“First there is an ending, then a beginning, and an important empty or fallow time in between. That is the order of things in nature.  . . .But endings make us fearful. They break our connection with the setting in which we have come to know ourselves, and they awaken old memories of hurt and shame. Growing frightened, we are likely to try to abort the three-phase process of ending, lostness and beginning.” P. 17

No wonder I feel a little lost out here on my own! It’s part of the process and it’s scary. Note to self: Remember it’s fruitful. 

“Every phase of life has such a task [an ending], and failing to complete it satisfactorily means that you make the transition into the next phase with unfinished business. And most of us didn’t entirely finish the job of resolving identity issues back then. Consequently, whenever we enter a new transition, some of those old identity issues are going to reemerge.” P. 32

That makes sense to me; I’m feeling inadequate in so many ways, feelings of insecurity I haven’t experienced in years are creeping up again. Can I really do this job? Why is my loneliness so intense right now? Note to self: Remember that you are beloved in Christ, Judy, that never changes. It’s normal to have amplified emotions.

 “Endings and beginnings, with emptiness and germination in between. That basic shape is so essential to growth that we must learn to recognize it in our own lives. The societies that were most knowledgeable about it and designed rituals to facilitate it had, however, little faith in descriptions. Literal statements do not reach deep enough in the mind to have a lasting effect. For that reason, these societies couched their most important insights in the form of stories.” P. 175

The Greatest Story Ever Told follows the pattern of creation, fall, redemption, restoration. Note to self: Knowing my story in light of this story makes all the difference!

 

Perhaps you have some hard-won advice? I’m all ears. 

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6 Comments on “Transitions

  1. I’m sure you know this quote…
    “I had always felt life first as a story and if there’s a story, then there is a story teller.” G. K Chesterton.

  2. I’m thinking about this myself – we’ve got five weeks left in Singapore. I think one thing I learned in my most recent transition was to sink even deeper into the character of God and my identity as His child, because those are my two constants. Have you read the book Strong Women, Soft Hearts? A friend gave that to me when I first came to Singapore. It’s not about transition per se, but I definitely found principles in it that applied for me.

  3. “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

    Judy, as you know, I moved to the US about 2.5 years ago and I know how painful and frustrating change/transition can be. Time and prayer has helped me to understand that change is a great opportunity to grow and bring us closer to God.

    Elisabeth Elliot once wrote: “When ours are interrupted, his are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable) “toward the goal of true maturity”.

  4. I HATE CHANGE! I was in my old job for 14 years and then transitioned to a new job in the same company and I expected no big transition. HA! It has been almost four years and I feel I am still in transition. And I don’t like it. Course I’m not good at reading those hifalutin books and deep thinking like you so…I guess I’ll never “arrive.”

  5. I read this yesterday on a friend’s website, talking about some changes he’s going through. It’s a quote from Henri J. M. Nouwen “The Inner Voice of Love”:

    “You have an idea of what the new country looks like. Still you are very much at home, although not truly at peace, in the old country. You know the ways of the old country, its joys and pains, its happy and sad moments. You have spent most of your days there. Even though you know that you have not found there what your heart most desires, you remain quite attached to it. It has become part of your very bones.

    Now you have to come to realize that you must leave it and enter the new country, where your Beloved dwells. You know that what helped and guided you in the old country no longer works, but what else do you have to go by? You are being asked to trust that you will find what you need in the new country. That requires the death of what has become so precious to you: influence, success, yes, even affection and praise.

    Trust is so hard, since you have nothing to fall back on. Still, trust is what is essential. The new country is where you are called to go, and the only way to go there is naked and vulnerable.

    It seems that you keep crossing and recrossing the border. For a while you experience a real joy in the new country. But then you feel afraid and start longing again for all you left behind, so you go back to the old country. To your dismay, you discover that the old country has lost its charm. Risk a few more steps into the new country, trusting that each time you enter it, you will feel more comfortable and be able to stay longer.”

  6. Some friends mentioned ideas on my Facebook, so I thought I’d post for your encouragement:

    Bill said: God is righteous in all His ways; kind in all His deeds. He sits on His throne in heaven and His sovereignty rules over all. continue to trust Him through the transition… He is faithful. and expect growth.

    Bella said: Hi Judy. I read your latest blog, and feel for you. Transitions are naturally confusing periods. I have been through so many, and one of the most important things I’ve learned is to trust in Time. You may struggle in your understanding of all the changes you are going through right now, but in time, you will understand. When you are in the thick of things, it is very difficult to step back and have some perspective. Just know that things will sorts themselves out, you will regain balance, but you can’t rush things along in an effort to understand everything. Let go a little. As your last quote from Wm. Bridges states, “Literal statements do not reach deep enough in the mind to have a lasting effect.” Not enough time as passed for everything to fall into place, but it will.

    Megan said: Judy-great blog. You well know the stress that is caused by transition, and stress is typically what causes us to shut down, experience short term memory loss, word search issues, and all of those challenges. My advice would be unhealthy, if it were only what I’ve often modeled: less sleep, more caffeine, more email! But your utter, peaceful reliance upon God, your writing for the experiential healing, and the prayers of friends will carry you through to the next season–out of the season of transition.

    Sue said: Wow, Judy. I think I could have written your blog almost word for word. I don’t understand the “why” any of what has happened over the past year, and I probably never will this side of heaven, but I’m trying to be focus on being with my Abba and letting that be enough. Not easy! But when it “works” it’s incredible.

    Susan said: Judy, I just read your blog,According to Judy, and I think you are amazing! Time, Time, and Time – Trust In and Lean on our Lord. When I was in college in Boston and having a hard time transitioning, my Grandmother Stewart sent me the following verse written out on an index card: Isiah 40: 29-31. You are going to be GREAT – The Lord is on your side!

    Chrissy said: Judy,
    To paraphrase from the movie “Hope Floats:” Beginnings are scary, endings are sad. It’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will… “

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