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On Transitions – Part 1

Raise your hands, how many of us really like change? If we’re honest, most of us find change challenging, even when we choose it. As I like to say, “I find change easier when it happens to other people.

Author William Bridges writes that transitions, whether in our personal lives or communally, consist of three parts: 1. An ending, 2. Neutral Zone, and 3. A new beginning. In this article, we’ll be looking at ending.

When there is a change, an ending occurs, and with endings we experience loss, and perhaps other negative emotions – sadness, anger, confusion. The usual pattern of our lives has been disrupted, and even if we choose to end something it is no guarantee that we won’t experience the feelings associated with loss.

A transition means a letting go of an old situation – whether it is a job, a relationship, or a health status. In the life of Faith Presbyterian Church, the major transition we are experiencing is letting go of Virginia Studer as the pastor of the congregation. It wasn’t looked for, and it was disorienting given the speed at which it occurred. Pastor Andy came and helped you through the initial phases of that time, and now I have come to help more. But the reality still is – Virginia isn’t here anymore. On top of that, this is the first time that Faith Presbyterian has been without an installed (“permanent”) pastor. It can feel confusing because things have changed and there’s no going back.

All of this is normal. Over the next few months, we will be attending to these feelings of grief and loss as we continue to be the people of God ministering and sharing God’s love. It is really important for us to do this – because as with any loss if we don’t go through the process, we will find that they pop out later in less helpful ways.

Most counselors for the grieving encourage people to feel their feelings. As Alla Renee Bozarth has written: “Trust yourself. Trust your feelings. Own your feelings, recognize them as your own. Feel your feelings. They won’t destroy you, because you can learn to express them safely and constructively with the reassuring help of others.” (From Life is Goodbye, Life is Hello: Grieving Well Through All Kinds of Loss, Alla Renée Bozarth, Hazelden Press, 1982, 1986.)

We can remember the many ways that God has lead us through other transitions, and trust that God will be there for this one as well. I am reminded of Paul’s word to the Roman church: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? “Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

As it is written: “For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor  demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Blessings and light, Renée

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