The Art of Fast Transitions

Have you ever been on the fast track of change?  Is your world spinning?  Have you been uprooted, or had to change jobs?  Are you moving and forced to start all over?  Or, are you facing a circumstantial change you have no control over?

My son, Chris McLeod, his wife, Liz, and their children (our grandchildren), Amelia (almost 4) and Jack (7 months), just announced that they are moving to New York City in a couple of weeks.  We made it public this past Sunday.  This will come as a shock to some.  They have only been here in Buffalo since January of this year.  Chris came here for a local job with a media company.  He has also been leading our worship at Life Church Buffalo.  A series of circumstances (and God) led Chris and Liz to make some career decisions which required moving to the BIG City (Amelia's term).

You think you are in shock?  We finally get grandchildren in Buffalo and they turn around and leave.  (Maybe we could work out a deal where the parents go but the grandkids stay :)

Seriously, I knew in my heart that they would not be here forever - maybe two years.  Both Chris and Liz are very talented and well-trained people in their thirties.  They are both chasing dreams.  And they both have had it in their hearts to live in New York City.  I'm an experienced dad with five children.  And I have been through my own episodes of fast turnarounds in my lifetime.  I get it.

Fact is, change - and the transitions that it produces - are a part of life.  We want it and we don't want it.  

When the news became public, you could hear the sound of shock and awe.  Change, initially, is the hardest for those who did not plan for the change.  We are just getting used to their being here.  Chris's stable style of leadership was beginning to be appreciated and felt.  And it felt good.  Liz's passion for people in need and her determination to embrace life to the fullest is contagious.  She was on the fast track of multiple friendships.  Then: "Bam!"  They’re leaving.  Then there's Amelia and Jack.  And Craig and Carol feel that "rip" more than anyone else.  

Chris and Liz, on the other hand, are carrying the burden of their gifting, callings, hopes and dreams; not to mention the responsibility to provide for their family.  It is their life and future that is at stake.  Therefore they have the grace for the unexpected change of direction.

But the hard work of change, for them, has only just begun.  For us, it is a difficult, but short-term adjustment.  For us, it is a part of our life that is shifting.  For them, it is their whole life that is transitioning.  They are about to experience the challenges of a new location, developing new relationships, getting started in new jobs and discovering where they fit in the new connections to Christ's body, the church.  

This article, by the way, is not really about the McLeods.  Though my writing gives you a chance to be informed of their move, let's ride the wave of their decision.  Answer the question of how to go through change and transition with grace and with determined purpose.  

When going through the uprooting and ripping of change and transitions, I would suggest a few considerations that may help in landing safely on the other side.

1) Stay focused on the hope of fulfillment.  What is the ultimate and most valuable purpose in your new venture?  Ask God to give you a specific "word" that you can hold on to as you "go through it."  What is it that will please God, bless others, and fulfill your destiny?  Set goals that lead you to that end and start meeting those goals.  Giving your energy to the right stuff will give you the resilience to overcome the pain of the “tear” of your current attachments.  

2) Stay unified with those who are making the change with you, such as your family.  Understand and encourage one another.  Keep your eyes on the mission together.  Remind each other of God's leadership and affirmation.  Get excited about the good things.  Give counsel to one another through the difficulties that come with change.  Cry together when it hurts.  But look for opportunities to laugh together whenever possible.  And if you are alone in the transition, don't be!  Pursue the development of positive relationships that will bring challenge, encouragement, and balance to your life.  

3)  Love the people who are affected by your change.  You are not an island.  There is a ripple effect to your course’s redirection.  Have compassion on those who are dealing with it.  Keep your eyes on the end goal.  But help others along the way.  Jesus, knowing that he would physically leave this world and his disciples behind, spent many intense hours helping them prepare for it, even though they would not initially take it to heart.  However, later, after the dust settled, they found their footing on what He had told them beforehand.  Plant the seeds of understanding.  It will produce for others the substance to chew on after things calm down. 

4)  Live with your decisions.  Even if you later think you could have done things a little differently, own it.  Keep your eyes on the Lord and on the ultimate purposes at hand.  Don't let the challenges get the best of you.  Don't waver in your determination to do what you believe is right and good.  Don't let others feed you negativity or discouragement.  Hold your head high.  Stay humble in relationships, but confident in your calling to fulfill your God-given mission.  

Change and transition - wanted or unwanted - are a part of life.  God's grace, mixed with your faith, will see you through.  Find it! Believe it!  Go for it!  There are new horizons to conquer, new adventures to embrace.   Hold on to the word of God and fulfill it with all of your heart!