Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Transitions: The Grace Period

As I told my old counselor and now friend… "I hate transition," as she laughed at me for my pure honesty, I have continued to think about how almost all of life is transition or change. I have had many transitions in my own life, but especially big ones in the last few years: marriage, several moves, graduating and career changes. At this point I am kind of done, but am I really? I have had a lot of time to think and reflect the last few months while I have been put on temporary hold at my job due to some state discrepancies. I have been learning so many things that will not fit in just this writing alone. One thing I have been wrestling with is the fact that I am pretty sick of change and difficult change at that. I just want to be in the whole smooth sailing, enjoying life stage. Yet, in the last few days I think I realized that I will never have that stage here, on earth anyway. There will never be a time, let’s say a month where nothing happens…no stress, anger, fights, misunderstandings, etc, don’t happen. It just is not possible. In fact, I do not remember a year that there was not some really big thing that I was working through. And most of those years looking back I could not tell you what it exactly was I was working through. So then I thought, is it just me? Am I drama queen that looks for this? Or one of those people that can’t be continually happy and must need something to be stressed out about? God, I hope not! I’m pretty sure after thinking about it more and reflecting on most of my friends’ lives and my family members, that all of us have these ups and downs; seasons that come into our lives. Mostly we hate them and wait for them to pass along, but if they are happening so often then aren’t we wishing our life away? I don’t know about you but the idea of always living in the state of "I can’t wait ‘til this is over," is just not okay with me.

I want to live and enjoy my life. After having lost my grandmother this summer, at a young age for a grandmother today, I definitely have thought about the fact that we need to enjoy each day we have. I know that is so clichĂ©, but at the same time isn’t it true? If I spend most my days hoping for the next season to come, and I added all those days up at the end of my life comparative to the days I enjoy life no matter what, which column will be higher? Right now I can say with a guarantee that my "Is it over yet?" column would kill my "enjoying life" column. Now don’t misunderstand me I’m not saying we should become fake or start cutting work to live life to it’s fullest. So, what do we do while we wait? How should we live during this time of heartache, sadness, depression, change, anxiety or just pure impatience? As a believer I believe in prayer. But what happens when you don’t hear from God? No answer comes, not the "right answer" anyway or just more waiting perhaps. Should we "curse God and die" or get angry with Him, "Why won’t you just give me what I want, when I want it!" I wonder what He would say back? If I were Him, I’d probably say, "Are you kidding me with this?" or in my case "Again?!?" or my fav "Don’t you know, I’m God?" Fortunately for me, God has more character than me, especially patience. So what would he want us to do during this time? An article I read yesterday called Waiting on God’s Perfect Timing listed trusting God, resisting the temptation to control the situation yourself, and praying; prayer that is not the same wish-list, but with thanksgiving to God and with praise to him. Perhaps even for help to endure the pain you might be in currently.

So I’d like to build off of this really helpful, wise article. I would add obedience, a word everyone cringes over usually because it sounds like something our parents would have said when they were angry "Don‘t you disobey me." However, I think it is essential to relearn this word and it’s meaning, especially to inregard to your relationship with God. While you are waiting on something remember to praise God, not in the hopes that you will then secretly get what you want. I mean God does know our hearts and could completely see through that anyway, so why bother, right? Rather to believe regardless of your situation there are things to be thankful for. A good colleague invited me to write down something I was thankful for each day, even if it was as simple as the way the clouds look today. Also a way to be obedient is to follow his commandments and of course the two most important are Loving God and loving your neighbor. So there’s another serving; I am going to serve and love others as I wait. One of my mother’s favorite quote is by John Lennon who said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Isn’t that so true? Wonderful things happen during times of suffering. You have the capacity to see God and know He is there by your side more than maybe ever before. You learn and see things in the scriptures that you never saw before. You see others and their hardships differently as well. You may be the only other person in someone’s life that can really understand or empathize with them right now. Your current sensitive heart may see a family in need of food, clothing or rent money.

Lastly, and the most important for myself anyway, changes and hardships will never leave you. American culture tells us that we should be living life constantly like it’s one huge happy party. As if everyone has the perfect job that pays well, keeps you interested always and is always a fun work environment. Or that everyone’s social life has to be chuck full of activities that are super fun, with super fun people and the laughs are never ending. Does anyone know this person? If you said yes, than your lying or deceived by them. This life does not exist. People are complex and have hardships, stressors, etc everyday. No person or life is perfect so why do we expect this for our own lives? Why do we wait for perfection? Why wait for smooth sailing if it is never coming? In some ways this may sound depressing, but the good news is your not alone. We are all going through something and how could we not in this imperfect world? In some ways this lowers our high expectations and anxieties that there should be more. Something in us, in our hearts longs for more, expects more. Why the heck is that, if all I’m saying is true? Then I realized it, I was not made for this fallen world with all it’s imperfections. God had more in mind for us and still does. If part of you feels unfulfilled…good…you should, because it’s not over. There is more living to do here on earth. More love to give others and more you need to grow in. More love that has to develop for Christ, and deeper relationship with Him here. But ultimately, there is so much more to experience in heaven, in the true presence of Our Redeemer. AND God gives us pieces of heaven, by being in relationship with Him right now. That's right there is a longing answered through Him. Why do I forget this so often?

So in closing I pray that God continues to grow you. I pray you can continue to live during this time you are in. That you would learn to love this season in your life right now and look forward to the next at the same time. That you would count all the reasons to be thankful to a God who loves you more than anything. And that you would remember to use this time, where He is Strong, and you are weak, to love others well. Amen.

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