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Sitting in Transition

transitionI put out a frantic text to my cohort. “I can see my life shrinking. Soon it won’t be bigger than my couch.”

This was a critical moment in my recent transitions. We all reach that point – some of you aren’t as dramatic as I was. I knew I was in trouble because I couldn’t see past the end of my nose. I wanted to curl up in bed and never talk to anyone again…ever…unless they had chocolate, then I might say something rude so they’d drop the chocolate and run. 🙂

My grown up brain knew I was in trouble, so I reached out to friends. “Tell me what life is like after the kids move out. Paint a picture for me that brings hope.”

This particular wall was brought to you by my second child moving out to start her own life and live with friends. I was proud of her, and terrified for me. You see, I have 4 kids. We managed the oldest going off to school, moving her residence to CA and then getting married with only two meltdowns. But this is different. My younger three children have always been like dominoes. Where one goes, the others quickly follow. Within a year we will have all college students and above (my youngest will be in Running Start). The future is here!

This is the time I planned for! Since I was 16 I’ve planned for this day. I decided very young that the best years of a woman’s life are 45 or 50 to 70. I saw it coming and every decision I made was with this time-frame in mind. Yet, here I sat, facing a blank wall of the future.  (For those of you who know me, I’ve been “in transition” for about 8 years…but that’s another post.)

Thank God for friends! My girlfriends (cohort) didn’t wallow with me, instead, they prayed. Within a week, I had a plan for transition. I don’t have a clear vision of the future, but I do know that I need to be firmly in transition before the future will show itself. So, here is my plan for transition:

The first step in transition is knowing what you are letting go of, and letting go of it. As a pastor, I found the best way to help a family start the transition involved with the death of a loved one was to have them go through photos, remember together the past. So, I started. I went to the basement and dug through all the boxes, bins and files of childhood I’d saved for my kids – then I sorted it all into bins: one for each child, one for Wes and myself, and one for genealogy (my mother-in-law’s hobby that I’m saving for my children). Then, I went through the pictures, and kept those that might mean something to the kids some day. This phase will be done soon.

The next step in transition is redefining who you are without what you lost. Don’t panic. I know I’m not losing my kids, but I am losing:

  • Social buffers
  • Reasons to interact with others (soccer anyone?)
  • Distraction/Excuses
  • People who force me to choose to be happy/look on the bright side
  • People who force me to create a schedule

So, as I redefine who I am, I am going through the rest of the house and systematically culling (which means to gather from many resources and to “reduce a population (of animals) by selective slaughter”, both of which are appropriate here…, well, not killing animals, but getting rid of the excess stuff) – everything that we don’t have a use for needs to go away. So far I’ve discovered that I have three (almost) identical sets of artists pencils. Every time I go on vacation, I buy a new set. Can you imagine how much space I will have?

The third step in transition comes all on its own. New Direction. This comes out of walking through the first two steps. It isn’t something you can force – yet I find myself reaching…maybe I can do more work here…maybe I should volunteer to help there…what about…?? The trick is to sit. Let the process do its work, and wait for God to show up.

I’ve watched friends go through this phase – and the turn comes suddenly. Within a few days or a week, what was becomes old, and there is a new future on the horizon. So now is the time to settle everything so that it won’t be on my todo list when the new future arrives.

Are you in transition? What is your game plan?

4 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your process, as well as your past experiences. I feel like my whole life has been a constant series of transitions! I think, in the past, I was always looking toward and pushing for change — always looking over the horizon for the next conquest. Now, I feel pushed into transitions before I’ve had to time acclimate and enjoy the fruit of my labor! I feel like I am running to catch up or pulling on the reins, to no avail.

    I have a baby-turning-toddler, a toddler-turning-preschooler, little kid-turning-big kid, and big kid-turning-middle schooler. I feel under-prepared and overwhelmed. So, after prayer, thought, and advice from wise people like you, I am trying to fully appreciate who my children are, where they are at right now (without wasting energy on how/where I wish they still were or fretting who/where they will be). I am sharing stories with them of what they were like at their younger siblings’ ages or where I was at their age. I am allowing God to change my perspective and proclivities, so that I can be present (even in difficult circumstances or transitions) and invested in creating what will some day be treasured memories. And I am praying for the future — who they will become, who I am becoming, and what my marriage will be.

    When we give it all to God and let Him have His way in it all, I find more contentment in the present, peace about the future, and the transitions are much more smooth!

    • Kim

      10/09 at

      Jessica, this is so powerful! ” I am sharing stories with them of what they were like at their younger siblings’ ages or where I was at their age.”

      I believe that sharing stories is one of the most powerful thing we do as parents. It helps our kids self-define and it helps them see us as real people. I became convinced at some point that living authentically meant my kids learned some of my lessons as I went through them, which meant they were way ahead of the game.

  2. Love this! I can picture it in my mind. When it’s time for me to go through this particular transition you can remind me of this! I’m also in transition and muddling my way through it but I am happily beginning to see the light. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It was really encouraging,

    • Kim

      10/09 at

      Thanks Angela – I’m learning humor from you. 🙂

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