Nothing has the power to shake up your identity like a season of transition. Just when you thought you were figuring life out and things were finally settling down, a new season comes along and the winds of change begin to feel more like hurricanes.
Even as someone who is normally very excited about change and looks forward to new experiences, transitions still challenge me. But this most recent one shook up my entire world in an unprecedented way.
My husband and I lived in Hamburg, Germany for two and a half years and worked there as social workers/missionaries. In July of 2018, we felt that God was maybe beginning to move us into a new season and maybe we should begin thinking about moving back to the States. By the end of that month, we found out we were pregnant with our first baby. From there, things moved very quickly. We ended up finishing our work in Germany, moving back to the States, having our first baby and my husband started a new full-time job in less than 8 months.
Yes, it was a lot. Yes, everything did move very fast. I felt like my world was constantly being undone, and I couldn’t slow down the process. But I just had to keep on keeping on.
When we arrived in California, we moved in with my mother-in-law, to a town that we had never been to before. We did not have a car or friends or community or our favorite date night spot; we didn’t have anything that seemed familiar. I felt like my entire life was ripped out from under me. We were going non-stop in Germany, and our last couple months in Hamburg were especially busy and overwhelming.
When we got here, it felt like our life just came to a very abrupt, screeching halt.
That feeling of unsettledness lasted a couple months. I began to question everything; my identity, my purpose, my past, my mistakes, my past successes, my past failures, my dreams, my integrity, my Creator. It felt like a fog. If that wasn’t enough, add all of the hormones a woman in her third trimester might have to this whole mess.
I remember being so lost in the beginning. I wasn’t sure if I even knew who God was anymore, and I definitely had no idea what He was up to.
I would have moments of sitting in His presence, and just asking “Why?, What are you doing?, What am I doing here?”. Anything would be more comforting than the radio silence I seemed to be receiving.
Thankfully, the silence didn’t last forever. He was just waiting for me to witness what He was doing. Little by little, I felt my sanity returning to me. The normal didn’t come quickly; just in little moments here and there. I would meet people that were really nice to me. I would hear a message at church that carried a little glimmer of hope. I would receive a message from a friend that was comforting. I would talk to an older couple that would remind me that there is grace. I would catch up with an unlikely friend that would give a word of encouragement at just the right time. Every encounter felt like a nudge, a kiss, a hug, a smile from God.
It has been six months since we arrived in California, and things are much better. Still, I feel like I am putting together the pieces. I am still figuring out my new identity as a mother. I am still figuring out how I will serve God in this season of life, when before it was so obvious as a missionary. I am still not sure what the entirety of God’s purpose for me is. I am not sure of my calling anymore.
But I am walking (sometimes it feels more like crawling) by faith and hoping that the fog will fully clear one day and that I will look in the mirror knowing exactly who I am and what I have been made for.
And my hope is that this all happens before our next transition.
I will say, when I didn’t have a rhythm or purpose, these things were incredibly helpful and they helped me survive:
1. Honesty with yourself and God.
You have to be honest with yourself and how you are really doing. You have to be honest with God; believe me, He can handle it. Please do not be afraid to share your emotions, grievances and hurts with Him. Jesus carried the sin of the entire world to the cross and said, “It is finished” and tore the curtain that has separated us from God for a thousand generations.
He can handle what you are going through right now.
2. Looking for God’s grace
It is difficult, but begin to train your eyes and your spirit to always look for what God is doing. As I mentioned earlier, it can be something as small of someone being kind to you for a moment, or a person at church wanting to get to know you and your story.
Do not disregard those little moments because they are your reminders that God sees you and you are not alone.
3. Find a friend
Whether it is a brand new friend or an old one that you have wanted to reconnect with, it is so important to have someone to talk to when you are in transition. Hopefully this is someone you can share with and who will remind you of your Creator in a place of doubt. Or someone who can simply be a listening ear when you can’t help but word vomit. Or maybe, even better, it can be someone that you can invest time in and take a break from being absorbed in your own trials and struggles.
Pray for them as they pray for you.
4. Read the Bible
This one was probably the most helpful one to me and my husband as we have been going through this transition. The Word is alive and so relevant in every season and every situation. It is full of comfort, understanding, love, truth, direction, instruction, grace and God’s eternal promises for His people.
Allow God to minister to your own heart as you read the Bible and allow its words penetrate the fog of transition.
If you are going through a transition yourself, I hope you will consider some of these tips and remember to lean on God. He is the ultimate comforter.