Transitions

Transitions.

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.

The mindset

I often wondered what it was like to find a level of peace that existed beyond what I initially knew. It’s easy to say to someone “Cheer up!” Or “Look on the bright side dude!”. But when you feel that way it’s not always easy to simply pick yourself up and feel better about certain things or situations. On occasions there are but what’s more likely is that you will put on an act to look as if you’ve moved on, all the while you feel a sense of carrying that burden with you, it remains. It just sits in your back pocket waiting to come out again at a later point.

We’re really good at storing unnecessary things within us. We hold grudges. We hold disappointments. We hold bad experiences. We hold a lot of things that carry negative weight within us. It’s crazy that we do!! Why do it!?!? It’s doing no good for us so why focus on it? Why let it absorb so much energy? It would be so much better if we could just flush it away and know that it’s done with.

So how do we do that?

The truth is we’re flawed characters. We don’t have all the answers. That is how we end up where we are in the first place. We make decisions emotively. How we feel determines how we react. It feels as if we are built with defensive mechanisms within us. They seem to stem from our flawed personalities. We react in a imperfect manner. It’s proven in those moments we look back on and realise we didn’t react the way we should have or even would like to have.

I believe the key to difference starts in a similar place. It’s starts within us. It starts with our mindset. Our mind is our biggest weapon yet our most dangerous adversary. It can do both. Both brilliance and destruction. But there lies a real force in a mindset that is positive. There comes with it a real belief and determination to wherever you find yourself. A positive mindset is more proactive. It is more productive and it is far more healthy for us. I guess it stems from knowing what we want in life, or in that day or moment.

Ultimately though a positive mindset is the ability to think in a manner that chooses not to worry. It chooses to think in a forward thinking space. It determines a mindset that doesn’t let things get in the way. It focuses on a way and shuts out all thoughts around it that could unsettle those thoughts. It’s a mindset that requires strength and discipline because it’s obviously far easier to let our emotive selves control the way we think.

The level of peace I carry now stems from a shift in my mindset.

What did I do exactly?

Well first you need to identify your mindset and what dictates it. You need to figure out what it is that controls your thinking. Is it your job? Your family? Perhaps it’s your wealth or even your health?? But deep down there will be something that feels central to dictating the way you think and feel.

When you figure out what it is that dominates your mindset you have to ask yourself.

Is this a good thing? Or

Is this a bad thing?

I think it’s so important to fixate your mind on the good things in life . Things that make you happy, things that bring value to your life. Things that deep down inside of you feel right.

Equally though it is time to rid yourself of the things that you feel drag you down in life. This is your life, you decide what is good or bad for you in your life. Rid yourself of it. Don’t allow yourself to invest the time even thinking about it. Choose to say “No! I’m not going to focus on this.”. Choose to rid yourself of the negative energies in your life. Focus on the good and allow your mind to feel at peace. Your mind can have you sinking deeper by the day if you allow it to do so.

A healthy mind is wonderful basis to build upon. A healthy mind is a mind at peace, and a mind at peace is a mind that is making choices that deep down feel right and do good for you.

My mind feels at peace most of the time now, but I am human. That default mechanism has me emotively thinking some days but I am usually quick to slap that in the face and think with a mindset that is more positive for myself.

Perhaps a lot of that is to do with my Christian faith………….

Actually, it probably has a lot to do with that. Maybe faith has a lot to do with instilling a positive mindset?

If faith is the ability to trust in something you cannot physically see then that right there is a mindset that chooses to think outside our usual emotive ways. Instead it chooses to believe in a higher power greater than myself. It chooses to believe that what I feel or fear is merely my emotive state telling me otherwise. The challenge is always to trust the process.

Having God there helps a lot with this. I choose not worry about things that I can’t control. Instead giving them to God, and knowing that if I focus on what’s important then the rest will fall in to place. And it always does.

The old me would’ve let that fear or negative thought take control at some point. It would’ve highlighted to me how my reaction was always a certain way. A way that didn’t really help me with anything. Now though it is different. It starts with the mindset that sees me looking forward and positively. And with it a reminder every time of how much better, easier and enjoyable life is when you look at life through a positive lens.

So friends it’s a simple equation. The choice is yours. It’s like a fork in the road. Your mindset will control you. Which direction you want to send it is up to you.

Left or right? East or West? In the dark or the light? It’s your call. Even if you feel you’re in a good place right now let it reinforce the value of a positive mindset and be thankful you’re able to enforce it.

But perhaps it’s best put this way. Don’t think of it so much as a case of simply trying to find the good in any situation. But rather learn to look for the good. Even in situations which leave you feeling bummed or hopeless. Desperate or sad. Try and find something of value, something of good. It will help. It will help even if all it does is encourage you to think and react differently.