Transitions are a normal part of life, especially at the end of summer. Perhaps you (or your family!) are going back to school. Maybe you are starting a new job or moving to a new place. Or perhaps you are just gearing up for a change in your schedule with work, church, or other responsibilities. Transitions are a normal, natural part of life. Just think about how God created the earth–no season lasts forever! Our lives echo this cycle of seasonal change.
Yet just because transitions are natural does not necessarily make them easy. One of the biggest ways transition can test us is spiritually. We all have routines worked out to read the Bible, pray, and worship God. Transitions have a nasty way of knocking us out of those routines. Soon we will settle in and form new routines. But sometimes that can take days, weeks, or even months! What do we do practically to stay spiritually grounded after a familiar season ends–but before we get comfortable in the season that’s beginning?
Today I want to share three points of wisdom on transitions that have helped me navigate this space.
It is human nature that we tend to measure our spiritual wellness based on doing. For example, as you go about a typical day or week, your inner dialogue may sound something like this:
“Have I read my Bible today?” “I have to make sure to get to Bible Study on Tuesday.” “I’ll pray and intercede for my family twice this week.” “Ooops–I forgot to do my devotion for yesterday–I’ll do it this morning during breakfast!”
But in a transition, with new expectations and pressures, sometimes it feels like there is no typical day. Yet we retain the same dialogue. We miss our daily devotional and resolve to do it tomorrow–but it turns out, tomorrow is even crazier than today! Soon we can feel frazzled and unanchored from our daily routines, and hopelessly “behind” on seeking God. (I’m speaking especially to you perfectionists out there–myself included!) Here’s my advice: change your inner dialogue. That means accepting that your routines will not necessarily hold up during this time. That means reminding yourself that your spiritual wellness is not about a to-do list, but about connecting with God. This leads me to the main question you can ask yourself in lieu of your usual dialogue:
“How am I going to feed my Spirit today?”
This question works as a spiritual tool during transitions because it reframes our normal expectations for seeking God. First, this question reframes spiritual life from a task to a time frame. In other words, it’s not about finding a time in the day to do actions A, B, or C; rather, it’s about looking at the time you have in the day and creatively finding actions you can take to connect with God. Instead of panicking because you don’t have time to read your devotional, listen to a sermon as you walk to and from class. Instead of feeling guilty because you woke up late and didn’t have time to read your Bible, listen to an audio Bible on your drive to work.
This question also reframes spiritual life by focusing on what you can do instead of what you can’t do. We all have days during transitions that we won’t get to seek God as much or as perfectly as we want. But we can’t let the feeling of being a “bad Christian” make us wilt and give up entirely. We can’t focus on the things we don’t have time to do, or the things we can’t do. Instead, we should focus on the things we can do. Remember: You have the power to seek God in some way today, no matter how overwhelmed you feel. Whether it’s listening to a five minute podcast, praying in the bathroom between classes (I’ve been there!) or worshipping as you wash dishes, there are endless ways to do it.
Lastly, this question puts the emphasis on nourishing your spirit. Transitions are oftentimes the days or weeks we feel most disconnected, emotionally fragile, or overwhelmed–the times we need God the most. This question acknowledges that when our souls are anxious, our spirits need to be fed the most. When we are hungry, we know to go make food. When we are thirsty, we know we need to get a drink of water. Yet when we are cranky, anxious, mean, or depressed during transitions, we don’t recognize that maybe our spirits are starving, in need of refreshment from the Holy Spirit! Don’t starve your spirit–feed it in any way you can with the things of God, creatively, as you go about your day!
2. Embrace the Bigness of God
Do you know that this transition can actually launch you into deeper worship?
Transitions force us to come face to face with the bigness of God by exposing the fragility of the control we have over our lives. We realize, “Wow, when my schedule is hectic like this, I’m kind of a mess! I really need God!”
Transitions also help us surrender more fully to God, as the focus is taken off of “what I need to do today for God” and put on “God is with me today–one day at a time.”
We realize God is bigger than any routine. God is bigger than any schedule. God is bigger than any season. Instead of dreading this time, embrace it. Embrace that God is bigger than your comfort level. Embrace that God is bigger than your ability or capacity to pursue Him. Worship Him for how He reveals Himself to you, not in spite of, but through the transition.
3. Pray and Stir up Your Spirit
Even if you don’t have time to read scripture or watch a sermon, there’s something you can do: pray. We can communicate with God at all times. Talk to Him about your day, what you’re worried about, and what you need help with as you study, pack, or ride to work. Stay in constant dialogue with Him.
You see, regardless of what is going on in our lives we have the constant ability and responsibility to stir up our spirits through prayer. We are called to take responsibility in our spiritual lives by praying at all times and all circumstances (Ephesians 6:18).
We also have to remember that regardless of what a season feels like, we are given power beyond our feelings to stir up our spiritual lives: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7.
“Stirring up your spirit” is like giving yourself a spiritual pep talk. For example, you wake up, get some coffee, and say, “Okay, Lord, this is the day you have made and I’m going to be glad in it. I’m going to rejoice in it. I’m going to rejoice today because you’ve told me to rejoice at all times and in all ways. I thank you for the gift of another day and for the portion you have given me on this earth. I thank you for this job. I thank you for this education. You are Holy, You are mighty, You are worthy of praise. You are good and I love you so much. Thank you Holy Spirit for guiding me through this day. I am made in your image for good works today that were ordained before the world began. Help me walk in those!”
As Christians we are called to wake up in the morning and decide that we are going to live in and celebrate truth. God is not going to make that decision for you. That’s our responsibility. We all have the power, whether it’s a typical day or an atypical day, to wake up in the morning and stir up our spirits with the truth of who God is, and who we are in Christ.
4. Focus on WHO is constant.
During transitions, I encourage you to pray and stir up your spirit by dwelling on the constancy of God. What better way to face an unstable time than to meditate on the source of all stability? GOD is our constant–not the things we do for or in pursuit of God. If you are feeling overwhelmed, repeat truth to yourself! I’ve included some of my favorite verses on the constancy of God here!
Jesus Christ in the same yesterday and today and forever. –Hebrews 13:8
For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” –James 1:17
“So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.” –Hebrews 6:18