They are a process. For some transition comes easily. For others it’s a hard thing to do. Not only does your situation perhaps change but your mindset does too. Most of the time we adapt well to transition, I know I do, but I’ve learned recently that adapting to things doesn’t always mean you transition the way you should.
The process is key and how you process it is most important. At the end of last year my church experienced massive change. Even now, a few months further down the road, it still stuns me just how different things are. There are some elements that remain the same but by large most things are different.
We as a church spent 2020 and 2021 online doing Zoom. It was church as a body, but not the way we originally knew it. But it was amazing and the way it grew people’s faith and drew them closer to God was just something so beautiful. I miss those days in many ways. But in other ways I know that its purpose was filled and as churches reopened across Sydney it was time to focus back on being part of a church that had a physical presence in the local area.
Everything has its place and it’s time, it was time to focus, time to transition back in to the heart of what a church in its local community needs to be doing. But that transition was not an easy one to face. In the build up to reopening our church our pastor decided to call time on his leadership Kiand follow the path God had laid on the heart of himself and his wife.
Their departure felt initially like shock and loss, quickly I realised that this was perhaps also part of a bigger plan that God had, not just for themselves but for our church. Their hearts were being drawn in one direction and the needs of their church, and its community, were two different things entirely. It was simply the right time for a separation.
For me though, I found this moment simple enough to digest. I respected the needs of our pastor to follow the direction God was calling him in. I could respect the opinions and understand why some felt hurt by it too. And I could also understand anyone who felt stuck or disoriented with where they were in the time that followed.
Disoriented is probably the word that best described my place in the weeks that followed. God and I were fine, but all those outlets and people that I’d come to know and the ways in which they fed my soul in the past 2 years had changed. They were still there in one sense but the way it all worked had changed, and it took me a while to realise what it was doing to me.
Over the past few months my ability to process the transition has been gradual. One of the key lessons was more recent. When we transition, we adapt to this new thing. In this case, reverting back to a more traditional experience of church. But that transition involves being able to move past what was and embracing what is.
I learned that adaptation is something that requires careful consideration. We can adapt to something if we put our minds to it, sure! But when we adapt, are we accepting what has changed? Or are we adapting to the change and just boxing away the old, rather than dealing with what it actually means for ourselves?
In accepting that the old is gone and the new is here there is a process where the way we think changes. That adaptation allows us to move forward but it’s natural to still hold on to the past. There will be people we miss or conversations that just won’t take place anymore.
For me, I missed the way I was being fed in conversations or even just listening to people talk about a subject matter. It connected with me unlike anything previously. What the loss of it did was leave a void, kind of like skipping meals on a regular basis. It left me hungry and eventually left me not quite feeling like my usual self.
As of now my transition has moved forward. I’ve left that disorientated state of mind. I’ve left some sort of valley and found the clear air again. Sometimes there are valleys we just need to walk through and experience. It is there we experience a graceful wonder. We walk through these valleys not because we are lost but because there are things we are seeking as we wander. Without walking through these we would not see the things God wants us to see.
We learn in these places of how God has moved us and grown us. He has taken us there to show us things, and to grow us. This particular valley for me has been one of adjustment but also one where the things that looked different to me just needed some redefining again. A little like adjusting the focus on a camera so that what you see becomes clearer once again.
Transitions feel like the closing of one door and the opening of another door. But perhaps it’s not the closing of any door? Maybe it’s a little like walking through a couple of open doors, one after the other and into a different room? It doesn’t need to be the end of anything but more so it can become the adjustment or realignment to whats in front of us.
As we transition I think back to the fact it’s important to look forward and not behind us. We can’t go back. We remember the past fondly but in order to grow we need to look forward and trust the plans God has in store for us. More importantly, don’t just look forward, look to God. When it looks different and you feel a little lost, then draw close to God. Pray about it, meditate on it. He knows where you’re heading, even if you yourself feel a little lost in it all.