Part of the nature of transition is the removal of something. We can focus on what is being added if we want, but inevitably what was taken will start to ask us to pay attention to it. Your heart broke when the relationship ended, and you nodded your head. You watched a pregnancy end, and you get this. You left a land you love, it still hurts.
Our souls know when something disappears, even if that something was disliked or uninvited. It does not matter if you are going from something you hate to something you love, transition involves a breaking, a tearing down, a leaving behind of something.
Add to this that a transition often involves a highly-pressured, fast schedule. The wedding day approaches, and more things are added to your list. Your new job begins in a new state, the hours are longer, the curve is steeper. And your mind? An unending list of things to do. The drum beats: Be more organized, get more done, not enough time, not enough resources. This the natural rhythm of transition.
Slow down your soul. Stop. Change your rhythm. In a time of breaking and change and leaving, choose to build on the inside. Your soul, your children, your family and your community. It may be the biggest gift you can give yourself in transition. Slowing down on the inside is grace to myself first that I am then able to pass on to the people I love.
These are a few simple things I have done to build on the inside when everything around me seems to break.
I’m probably not the only one who wakes up and goes to bed with their phone. This is easily one of my worst habits, and there is nothing that gets my head spinning like the constant roar of emails, sms’ and notifications. There is a better way to live than this. If I want to slow down, I need time alone. When I’m with technology, I am not alone. I need time alone in the morning, so this may mean getting up before my kids. I need time alone in the evening, and this means boundaries before bed. A time when the screen goes off. Writing down my thoughts and emotions in a journal, reading my Bible, choosing to focus my mind on the truth, pouring out my heart in prayer, and every now and then trying to get out of the house to go to a café that means something to me, having a special coffee or treat, these are the activities that slow down my soul and rebuild my heart. This time fills me up so that I have something to give when the demands of my days (and night) come calling.
One thing I did during some time alone was make a list of what was most important to me, these are the things that would make sense only to me, people I wanted to see, places I wanted to visit, memories I wanted to make. This list served as a guide for me in my final weeks in Stockholm. It shaped how I spent my time, and helped me know what I was going to do and what was going to let go.
Let go and ask for help
What can I and only I do? Those are the tasks I need to do, but everything else, I can and must let go of. The false idea that there are so many things for me to do is one of the first signs that my transition rhythm is out of control. You were made for community, reach out to the people in your life and ask for help. Give them your list of things to do, let them choose tasks they can finish for you. Allow others to bear your burden. It will deepen your relationship, it will give your life more margin, and it will give you a vision of how to be a better friend and neighbor to someone else when their transition comes.
My kids ate so much ice cream this summer. I kept boxes of frozen cones and popsicles in the fridge, and their faces lit up when I asked them out of the blue in the afternoons, Shall we have an ice cream on the steps? These are the small touches of grace that are huge in the hearts of a small kids. It lifted their spirits, we all sat down for 15 minutes and slowed down. There is lots of laughter and smiling on their faces and ours as well.
Now it’s your turn: What’s the rhythm of your life right now? In what ways can you slow down? What needs to be added in to your life? What needs to be taken away?