Often we confuse the words transition and change. This may be in great part to the fact, in our language we often use the words interchangeably (no pun intended), however their meanings are quite different when we get to the core of the issue.
William Bridges, author of Making Sense of Life’s Changes: Transitions, says “Transition is the inner process through which people come to terms with a change, as they let go of the way things used to be and reorient themselves to the way that things are now.” He also gives a model of the three steps of transition: endings, place of confusion, and new beginnings.
Change is just that, a change which has happened. Change is an event or an occurrence. Change takes on many forms. It can be small, insignificant, or great and life altering.
Change often feels like a high wall that blocks our pathway, like a barrier across our paths, a disruption of our plans, or a big hole that’s opened up at our feet. When we see this barrier our thoughts are:
“How do we get over this?”
“This is too hard.”
“I can’t do this.”
I don’t like change.”
“I didn’t ask for this. I just want everything to go back to how it used to be. Everything that was comfortable and familiar and this is scary and represents the unknown.”
Doubt begins to set in and it seems as if the change is too big of a barrier, a wall, or a hole for us to get across, to get over, or to get through.
In scriptures we see the story unfolding before us in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, of Jesus being crucified and how that affected not only his disciples, but all of mankind. For His disciples and followers there was a journey they went on which was a difficult one and it happened over three days and beyond. This journey was one of transition. It was a loss of what they once knew and the beginning of walking into God’s plan for their next season in their lives. However, through this story God shows us a blueprint of what change looks like and how we transition through it.
Day One. On the first day Jesus was crucified.
Can you imagine being one of His disciples, one of His followers on that day, witnessing the death of Christ on the cross? Fear of the unknown overwhelming within, taking hold of you, grief taking residence within and loss of hope strangling any breath of life within you. Devastation. Pain. Suffering. Life seemingly, unbearable without Christ with them.
This day represents endings. All of us can identify with endings. Endings in jobs, relationships, loss of loved ones, in ministry, children growing up and moving out, marriages ending in divorce, you fill in the blank……..
Endings are difficult. We often don’t want to talk about them or we have a difficult time moving through them.
Endings represent a change in our identity, in what we once knew, the familiar.
At night I can move around my home without the lights on because it is familiar, I know without having to see what and where everything is, how to maneuver around my home.
When endings happen, the familiar is now gone. The furniture has been moved and it often feels that we are bumping into things in the dark. When endings take place in our lives we see how our identities became ingrained in something or someone else. Part of journeying through endings is letting go of what we once knew, our old lives, and our previous identities must disintegrate in order for us to move through the process of transition.
When Jesus died upon the cross this represented a ending of dreams, of hopes, and perceptions of what and who the Messiah was. The disciples identities were through Christ living and walking with them in the flesh. It was through the years they spent in ministry together, experiencing life together, and growing together. They did not realize at the time, but there season with Christ was preparing them for a new season in their future. This season was about them stepping out of their old identities and walking into something new, a new anointing and power through Christ.
In relation to seasons, William Bridges tells us “The new growth cannot take root on ground still covered with the old, and endings are the clearing process.”
God has new growth for each and every one of us. The new growth cannot take root, the roots cannot grow unless we have endings which clear away what is no longer a part of our new season. We need to not fear the endings in our lives, but instead embrace them, even in the midst of our pain and sorrow. We need to cherish the love and what those seasons, those places, those people represented to us, but remembering they do not define us. Only Christ can define us.
Recently, I was in a discussion with a group of friends and the topic of change, more specifically, all the change in my life this past year was discussed. One new friend immediately started speaking life to me about the joys of what God is doing through all these endings. She reminded me the endings represented the clearing away Christ is doing in me, so I can carry the anointing of what He has for me in the near future.
Seasons flow in a cycle and are ever changing. Each season has a specific amount of time appointed and created by God for it to shine. As one ends, the beauty of the next begins to take shape.
This is life.
No matter how difficult, no matter how many tears, Christ has something for us. He does not leave us lost in our endings, but gave us the seasons to remind us of his perpetual flow of life in the natural and in our lives individually. I am so grateful for God’s unending love in the midst of our endings. Remember, you are not alone and Christ truly understands your endings.
Next week we will continue with Day Two.