As someone who has thought that he knew what life was about and had a great understanding of where I was heading, this phase of my life has been totally unexpected. Being married and in a relationship with my daughter and learning to support and love each other and leading schools was what I believed was ahead. And then very quickly all I thought was ahead crumbled. There was a total deviation from "my plans" and I have had to start re-thinking about who I am, who God is and what life is about.
This article is to give you an understanding of three stages we go through when leaving something and starting something new and the period of transition in between. Before looking at this, reflecting on some Bible passages and biblical concepts will be a great way to understand what this means for someone who is walking with and in Christ through a time of transition.
1. This is an opportunity to remove from you anything that is not of God and be transformed into the new man.
This death to a season of your life is a perfect time to seek God in how you can be transformed from the old person to becoming wholly the person God has made you to be .... in Him!
22 And he has taught you to let go of the lifestyle of the ancient man, the old self-life, which was corrupted by sinful and deceitful desires that spring from delusions. 23 Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you. 24 And to be transformed as you embrace the glorious Christ-within as your new life and live in union with him! For God has re-created you all over again in his perfect righteousness, and you now belong to him in the realm of true holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24 (TPT)
Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (TPT)
2. You are not alone - God will go with and before you
It can feel like an extremely lonely time. Take heart ...... God has promised to be with you and will never leave you. Intentionally enjoy time in His presence regularly!
6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”Deuteronomy 31:6
3. Even though change is unsettling, you have a God who never changes.
Even in the hard times and the craziest times, you have a God who is constant. He will never change so you can rely on Him!
8 Jesus, the Anointed One, is always the same—yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 (TPT)
4. There is a season.... What is happening cannot go on forever.
Thank God for what has happened in your life but know that in this world there are seasons in nature and seasons in our life. What is good is not forever but also what is thought of as bad is also not forever. Trust the season will change ..... understand the nature of the new season and learn to see the value of what you are going through.
To everything, there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1
5. This time MAY be the shifting God is doing so you are able to walk in the destiny He has made you for. God is preparing the way for an exciting new future for you!
It may be that you look back later and see that this season is a time for God to remove you from what you have been stuck in and shift you into an exciting new season. Be prepared for pain but through the pain look forward to growth and exciting new possibilities.
I am doing something brand new, something unheard of.
Even now it sprouts and grows and matures.
Don’t you perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and open up flowing streams in the desert. Isaiah 43:19 (TPT)
6. True growth comes through surrender.
To the world, this does not make sense... As I surrender to God, things start to change. The only way to becoming all God has made you to be and to walk fully in the destiny He has for you is to fully surrender to God and live in holiness. Find out what the culture has blinded you into thinking, living and speaking and choose to walk in all He has shown you in His Word.
Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvellous mercies? To surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
2 Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
Romans 12:1-2 (TPT)
7. Prayer is the KEY!
Be careful not to do this on your own. Pray constantly on the direction you are heading and how to move forward. Seek God to lead you, protect you give you wisdom at this time. Then God's peace will fill you and will guard both your heart and mind!
6 Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life, 7 then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:6-7
8. Do not give up.... no matter how hard it seems!
It is so easy to want to give up because it is too hard! Know that this is "normal" and as you work through the three stages you will get to the blessing..... even if it looks different to what you expect.
16 So no wonder we don’t give up. For even though our outer person gradually wears out, our inner being is renewed every single day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.
22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23
9. Learn to bless God.... daily!
In the challenges you face, it is so easy to lose sight of who God is and how He has blessed you and is blessing you now. Spend time blessing God and thanking Him for who He is, who He is to you and the benefits or blessings He has given you.
103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103:1-5
Now we have a biblical understanding of this transition from one phase of our life to another, it is very helpful to understand what the three stages are in moving from what is familiar to the new.
One of the biggest challenges we face, not only the pain of something dying in our life but becoming established in the new. How can we transition in a healthy way from the death of something to a new beginning?
“People expect to be able to move straight from the old to the new. But this isn’t a trip from one side of the street to the other. It’s a journey from one identity to another, and that kind of journey takes time.”
One of the major things that happen with change, is the impact major changes have on our identity. I find that identity is the most important factor to consider when looking at change. When we get stuck with "image", we find that outside influences have a huge influence on what we think about ourselves. It is even what we say about ourselves. When we can get to a point where we know our "identity" from the place where we know what God says about us, it changes the equation totally. As we transition from the old to the new, our identity or what God says about us is critical. When we go through this huge change and identity remains constant it makes it much easier.
In the book “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes” by William Bridges, the author presents a three-stage model for understanding transitions. I will simply go through the three stages presented:-
Stage 1: 1. Loss: let go of the old ways and the old identity
“Nothing is so dear as what you’re about to leave.” — Jessamyn West, American writer
The first stage is actually being able to say goodbye and mourn over what has been lost. What have we lost and how we will miss this is very important to come to grips with.
There are three key things you can do from here...
Take the time to list all the ways in which your new life will be different. This is time to consider all the changes that will happen and how they will affect your life. eg: I will not have someone I will be living with so I will have a lot of times by myself. Therefore I will need to be more proactive in forming relationships and getting out.
Take the time to mourn losses. Many people would say this is not healthy. From my time completing Emotionally Healthy Spirituality courses, this is an essential part of the process. Grieving for a season is OK. It is OK to feel the emotions but be careful not to get stuck there.
Define what’s over, and what isn’t. It is very interesting that the changes are not all bad. Group changes and find patterns. Some things end but it is an opportunity for other things to take the place of what has been left. It’s not all sadness and tears.
Ask "What can I do to balance what has been taken away". Being creative and seeing how you can still have needs met and enjoy life, but the way it is achieved may look different in this new season.
Stage 2: The neutral zone: the psychological no-man’s-land between old and new
“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” — Tom Stoppard, British playwright
This is a very challenging place where the old has been cut off but the new has not been fully established yet. We do not fully understand the potential of possibilities and what has happened is still raw in our mind. This neutral zone can be dangerous AND full of opportunity. It is time for old habits to be replaced with new ones, but you can also overthink and overload yourself and become stagnant. Focus on results NOT activity. Some things you should consider at this time:-
Accept that it’s normal. This transition time could take weeks, months and even years. It is OK if you have not worked everything out in the first week. When you follow the process results will happen and you will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Be deliberate and intentional as you work through this stage.
Create a sense of achievement and of movement. Ensure you are not caught in inaction. Do things and ensure you are moving forward... not matter how slowly it appears. Develop meaning and purpose in your life and plan this every day. Learn new things and new skills. Discover things in the way you relate to others that could be improved, for example, and find others who want to learn and grow.
Give yourself structure and strength. This is essential! Get up early each day and have a structure for each weekday and weekend. Do physical activity and calendar this into your day. Ask for help and realise that this an important part of growing and being healthy. Eat well, watch your screen time and take multi-vitamins and any supplement you may need. See a naturopath, for example, to ensure you are taking steps to be fully well.
Question the "normal" way of doing things. Look for opportunities to grow your life and make life meaningful and worthwhile.
One important skill is being able to set personal goals and hold yourself accountable. Look for results and be purposeful in what do each day. At the end of each day, celebrate what you have achieved. Goals can be:-
Short term - eg: Wash the car
Routine - eg: Daily Bible Study and prayer.
Long Term - Establish health communication skills / Learn to cook healthy meals.
This is a time where you can be agile, try new things and establish different ways of doing things.
Stage 3: A new beginning: a new identity emerges
“One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea” — Walter Bagehot, British journalist, businessman, and essayist
This is an exciting but challenging part of the journey. As the old has been dealt with and put to bed, a new understanding of who you are or who God has made you emerge. Often we are caught in a place where we get stuck, and this process releases us into new possibilities. This causes us to either fall apart or grow.
A new beginning is when you can feel a new identity-forming, have a new sense of purpose and a ton of newfound energy to make it happen. Through the hard work in the second stage, which is like a wilderness season, we see more clearly, we have better-defined priorities and are more focused on what is important.
“A start can and should be carefully designed, like an object. A beginning can and should be nurtured, like a plant. Starts take place on a schedule as a result of decisions. Beginnings follow the timing of the mind and heart.”
There are three key things to do at this stage:-
Picture the new beginning. Think about or visualize what the new "you" will look like and do. The exciting thing is that the "new you" may be or will be totally different to the old version. You will have a stronger understanding of your identity and who you are, relate to God more deeply, relate better to others, be more focused and might be able to achieve much more than your old self. What will your relationship with God look like, how will you dress, what friends will you have, what will your desk look like and the list goes on...
Have a plan, milestones, and check-in moments. This is essential. Ensure you know you are making progress by creating achievement milestones and building in time for reflection. If it is not working then be honest and cut your losses early.
Symbolize the new identity. With transition comes emotionally charged moments. Create symbols of your change and a new way of doing life. Buy new work clothes, print business cards or start something new. I started a new website and printed business cards to give to people so I could connect better with others. Writing a blog each week and having a small audience kept me focused on learning, hearing from God and intentionally sharing with others what God was speaking to me about. I am now a blog writer and researcher and really love writing!
I used to think that the season I have been going through has been unfair and "bad". Over time, though, I have seen God open so many opportunities, I have developed so many new relationships, my relationship with God is so much more real and dynamic and I have been given opportunities to get out of my comfort zone and grow.
Looking back I can say it has been the toughest journey of my life but I am so pleased I have been through all I have. Yes, God is truly good.... even when life is not been what I have expected. I am a different person to 2 years ago and I want to continue to be a person that continues to grow in my faith and in who I am. The future will be good!
I am expecting the Lord to rescue me again, so that once again I will see his goodness to me here in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 (TLB)
How to Deal with Big Life Changes: Endings, Neutral Zones and New Beginnings. https://medium.com/@diemkay/how-to-deal-with-big-life-changes-endings-neutral-zones-and-new-beginnings-398e263f2a2
25 Reassuring Bible Verses About Change to Help You Cope https://www.countryliving.com/life/inspirational-stories/g32705250/bible-verses-about-change/
Bible Gateway https://www.biblegateway.com/