I used to always say, “It’s the transitions, those are the hardest,” for my little ones. Time to leave. Transition. Time to clean up. Transition. Time to go to bed. Transition. Time to eat. Transition. Time to leave the playplace. Transition. When mine were toddlers and preschool age, transitions were killer.
Was it because they loved what they were doing and didn’t want to stop? Sometimes. Was it because they just simply didn’t like the in-between time, the space on the way from one thing to the next? Sometimes. Was it because they didn’t like the next thing? Often. But they cannot do the same thing forever, can they? They need sleep, food, rest and activity. They need to go to school and to visit others and to go grocery shopping.
I feel like a toddler not wanting to take his nap right now. I didn’t want to stop what I was doing. I didn’t want to give up a position that made me feel like I was contributing, significant to our church. I don’t want to wait on what is next. I resist the in-between just like my little ones.
As I check my emails each day now, I can feel it, sadness comes over me. All my emails now are mostly from stores. Just because I order something online, doesn’t mean I want to get an email a day from you, you commercial hounds! I try to unsubscribe, but who can keep up? Are you with me? I liked the action of making sure things were as they should be as the volunteer lead of Women’s Ministry at my church. Even though I had a love/hate relationship with email. Emails can drain me with their incessant nagging. But the sense of accomplishment, knowing I am part of impacting people’s lives for good. What I really miss more is the meetings, the strategizing, and the people. I absolutely love thinking through mission, vision, and values! Now that I have stepped down from my volunteer position I am in the grieving process, transitioning from one thing to the next.
Problem is, I don’t know what is next.
At my worst moments, I feel as though I will never get another opportunity. I am not needed. I am not an integral part of where my church is going. They don’t need me. They don’t want me. At some level I know these are lies. But those thoughts badger and attack, threatening to take me down for the count..3, 2…no, stop.
This is where the fight begins. This is when my toddler needs to listen to me. The moment she arches her back and uses all her strength to fight me as I try to buckle her seatbelt in her car seat. I have good plans for her. Food, sleep, education, friendship, activity, work, are all good things I have planned for her. But she resists because she can’t see the wisdom or the benefit in the middle of the transition. God is no different with his good plans. Rest, work, learning, nourishment, growth, are the plans of God for me. Will I listen? Will I release control? Will I allow sadness and frustration to be a doorway, instead of a wall?
I came across a book in Barnes and Noble the other day. I went in there because bookstores feed my soul. I needed some TLC. I wasn’t expecting to find a subtitle so perfect for my season. The title is “Begin Again.” The subtitle, “the practice of releasing hurt and finding rest,” could not have beckoned more clearly. The author, Leanna Tankersley, wrote a chapter called “the threshold.” She describes moments when we come to a place where can enter or we can turn back and go the other direction. In my spirit I know this is where I am, at the threshold. Enter or turn back. Entering includes moving away from all the disappointment and unfulfilled ideas and moving toward new possibilities, ones I can’t see.
Even though the plan I had worked out in my head was not the reason I said yes to leading women’s at my church, I did see it as a way through to what God had possibly planned for me. We are at a place in our family life in which it would be really helpful if I got a paid job to help with all the upcoming college education costs for our 6 children! When I think about jobs, I can’t see myself getting back into early childhood/elementary education. I am “kidded out” now. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. I. am. done. Since I have been a stay-at-home mom for all that time I do not have much job experience to help me land many jobs I might like. And when I think about the jobs I could easily get, Target or something along those lines, I just can’t get myself to apply because A: I don’t want to work in retail and B: the pay is really very poor. Next time you are in a store or restaurant, thank them and treat them well because they are doing work with very little compensation! I have said to myself, “I will work at one of those places if I have to.” I do want to stay open if necessary.
Reality is, I have been a pastor’s wife for 24 years and because of this I have experience in ministry with people. When it comes right down to it, I want to spend the rest of my life helping people know God more deeply and inspire them to do all that God has created them to do. Ministry is in my blood. A minister is who I have become.
With twinkle in my eyes, I started serving in women’s ministry imagining the possible future outcome: a part-time or full-time paid job in the church. Can I be honest with you for a minute? This is hard to admit, but I saw myself working so hard and so well that someone would see me and my work and think, “we need her here, we want her here, let’s pay her for her work. She is an integral part of where we are going as a church. Let’s hire her.” These words and exact details were not all worked out in my brain, but I did imagine volunteering would turn into something else. This did not happen. I did not imagine feeling like I had nothing to show for my hard work these last two years. I did not imagine I would have to begin again and have to choose to trust again with nothing of substance in my sights as far as a fulfilling, paid job goes.
So, here I sit, in the in-between yet again, fighting, waiting, on the precipice of either drowning in doubt and anger or entering into the unknown with hope and anticipation. It’s time to revisit what helps me get to door #2.
How about you? Are you in a transition? What’s door #1 for you? What’s door #2? Where are you in the whole trusting process? What do you do to fight and stay on track?