In the previous post, I shared some thoughts with you about why we should engage during times of transition. Throughout this post, I’ll share about how we can weather these times of transition well, even coming out smiling and thankful on the other side! This post will explore these survival techniques:
2. Consider what the Lord might be teaching you.
3. Join a church as quickly as possible and dive in.
4. Remember, it takes time!
Before getting into that list, let me issue a warning reminder:
There is an enemy who would LOVE to see a transition undo you!
Just as Jesus knows what transition is like and will be our rock as we go through periods of change, the devil knows too and will attempt to deceive and derail us. He loves to take advantage of weak moments to try to lure us away from trusting our gracious, heavenly Father. The Bible says he prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour, that he’s the father of lies, masquerades as an angel of light, and leads the whole world astray. I remind you that there is an enemy not to scare you, but to embolden you in the face of trials that will come in the midst of transition. They are not usually signs that you’re in the wrong place; in fact, often it’s quite the opposite. The evil one would use trials to derail your faith and lead you astray, but knowing that’s a real threat will help you to endure. When I read about Satan, I get all fired up, and want to stick it to him, not letting him have a foothold. Will you join me?
Here are some things that will help you to resist the devil and thrive in the midst of transition:
Make sure people are praying for you. This is not a platitude. I credit much of my continuing walk with the Lord to the prayers of my grandmother, parents, and in-laws. Before moving onto something new in life, ask those who know you to commit to praying for you. And if your life transition has lead to physically moving cities or churches, be as real as possible with your new community, so they too can pray you through it.
Consider what the Lord might be teaching you. When we ask God to soften our hearts and help us to trust Him, He will. I can have a pretty hard heart (hard head, too!), so it sometimes takes a while; but if God can break through my pride, fear, doubt, and sin, well, I have hope He will do the same for you! Open up your eyes to see places God is being gracious to you, providing for you, nurturing you, and pruning you in the midst of your current situation. You’ll begin to see His hand in new ways, finding fuel for deeper trust in Him and greater thanksgiving to Him.
Join a church as soon as you can. That doesn’t mean you have to rush hastily without knowing about the doctrines and practices of a congregation. It does mean, don’t dilly-dally. As I mentioned in the previous post, the church is the people; you need them and they need you. The perfect congregation does not exist. If you find a place where the gospel is preached and the people there are concerned for the things of God, stick around even if the worship style isn’t quite what you’d prefer or the time of the service is not optimal. The sooner you commit, the sooner you can invest and others can invest in you. Being new is just plain awkward. But you know that old phrase: If you want to have a friend, you’ve got to be a friend? It’s a good thing to keep in mind as you step into new church and new friendship waters. Act like the church is yours, and soon it will be!
Remember, it takes time!! We have now lived in Pittsburgh for two years, and despite the fact that I grew up here, the transition has been hard. Going from eight years in Cambridge, MA, feeling known, understood, and comfortable in my roles, to being new, unknown, and floundering, was tough. I’ve had many “middle school moments”: Do they really like me, or are they being nice just because they have to? Will I ever fit in here? I’ll bet if they really get to know me, they’ll hightail it outta this friendship! Of course, most of those thoughts were absurd, but they were real nonetheless. Two years in, however, I’m feeling much more comfortable and my main advice to anyone heading to a new place is to remember that it takes time. Our “old friends” are what they are because we have a shared history together. New friends will become old friends over time, too! So if you’re feeling lonely, insecure, unsettled, or restless in the middle of a transition, remember it takes time.
As with the previous post, I’ll bet some of you fine readers have wise counsel to add to this list. Or maybe you have a question regarding one of these points. Please feel free to leave a note in the comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say!
I don’t know where you are today: on your way to graduate school, moving into a new place, staring a new job, or maybe you’ve been somewhere for a little while but don’t feel settled yet. I’d like to leave you with these verses, not as a command, but as in invitation to trust God in times of transition, leaving the details to Him:
Be joyful always; pray continually; and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Other posts in the series: