Has your life-journey, like mine, been accentuated by a series of major life-transitions?
If so, how are you doing navigating your way through the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the ebbs and flows that go hand-in-hand with the winds of change?
With almost 34 years of marriage behind me, and more than a few career changes along the way, this mom of eight (Grammie of nine), has certainly had her share of this thing called “transition!”
And I can tell you with all honesty that the physiological, emotional, and spiritual implications of various personal and professional changes that have transpired over the past several years and months, have at times, thrown me for a major ‘loop-di-loop’ both within and without!
Merriam-Webster defines transition this way:
1. a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another: change
2. a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
3. an abrupt change in energy state or level usually accompanied by loss or gain
For me personally, the first definition coupled with the third is most fitting.
Without a doubt…
my crazy, unexplainable, but-for-the-grace-of God life has been quite the ride!
And while I know – that I know – that I know – that my life is a story that only God could write,
I was certainly not prepared for this thing called MIDLIFE and the impact of so much change at once that came and sat down on me!
But before I discuss this topic in more detail, I want to welcome those of you reading my blog for the first time (smiling at ya)!
For those of you who have followed my blog in the past (smiling at ya, too), I want to let you know that I did not intend to quit writing these past several months. I simply felt the need to lay my writing aside while I embraced the ‘new things’ taking place in my career-life which required a focused effort of time and attention on my part.
As of today, I am happy to be officially back on-line.
I’ve missed interacting with you.
And I want to begin to reconnect with you by telling you about the wild ride I have been on these past several months.
A ride that I would compare to this Cedar Point family favorite roller-coaster:
(And if you have thrill-seeking tendencies – you must add this place to your Bucket List)
A ride that leaves you……utterly speechless!
I don’t know about other amusement parks, but at Cedar Point, you are always greeted upon your return by the enthusiastic summer college kid in khaki shorts and logo polo shirt with the classic phrase:
“Welcome back riders how was your ride?!”
If you are able to speak at all – you utter something like: “What.Just.Happened?!”
Sometimes life feels this way too after a major life-change.
We find ourselves looking in on the events of our life wondering “What.Just.Happened?”
So here’s my “what just happened” life-transition-event:
I became a Flight Attendant!
A ‘little’ cream ‘IN’ your coffee?
I know! It’s crazy!
Me! Betsy Stretar. Wife of a teacher, football coach, and non-profit leader. Mom of 8. Grammie of 9.
A flight attendant!?
This is either a major mid-life crisis – or some divine act of God!
Do you detect the humorous intent here?
In many ways my empty-nest, mid-life, “what.just.happened?” story seems quite drastic when compared to other past career paths I have had as a full-time, stay-at-home mom; seamstress; interior home dec consultant; non-profit director; seminary graduate; and college advisor.
The rational, common-sense-woman within me is still in a bit of shock.
But, the faith-filled, God-following-woman within me, is learning to embrace this new journey as the gift of God.
A gift that has allowed me to reflect more and more upon WHO I AM (my true identity) more than WHAT I DO (my vocation) and rest in the fact that God is working all thing together (the old and the new) for my good.
I will openly admit, however, that my journey through
1) empty nest (relationally)
2) midlife (physiologically)
3) a major career change (professionally)
have been no casual walk in the virtual amusement park!
(The ‘amusing’ part usually comes once you are on the OTHER side of transition… unless you are one of those rare individuals with the capacity to find humor even in the most challenging times).
I’ve come to realize a few things about transition (in all honesty):
The first is this…that,
Transitions can sometimes feel like an uninvited guest.
A guest that shows up without warning and announces (with all rudeness and insensitivity) conveying something like this:
“Pardon the intrusion…but I’d like to come into your life and wreak havoc on your soul!”
Transition happens to all of us at some point. The question is if it happens, but how we respond to it when it transition stands at the door of our soul.
Paul says it like this:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The second is this:
Transitions can leave you feeling breathless.
It’s that gasping sensation you feel at the end of a roller-coaster ride that redistributes facial features and body parts and leaves you wondering if part of you wasn’t left behind back on turn number two as you wonder…
The experience requires frequent moments of pause.
In spite of the trauma inflicted upon your soul, I can assure you that God is doing something wonderfully profound within you.
Take the time not to rush though transition, but to live honestly in it!
Slow down it.
Bask in it.
Grieve in it.
Laugh in it.
Cry in it.
Let God be God to you in it.
Transitions is best experienced with faithful, loving people in your life.
Regardless of who you are, during times of intense transition, it is helpful to have others in your life who lovingly, gently (and even firmly at times) remind you that everything will be okay!
In my journey, the most helpful voices came from precious family, friends and trusted counselors who helped me see what I was not able to see for myself at the time:
That God is in control.
That God loves me.
That God is not distant or unconcerned with my state of lostness, confusion, disorientation or despair.
God sends us these dear ones to help us discover more of our true identity in Christ.
Sometimes that includes facing hard, honest truths about ourselves regarding…our identity… our longings….our heart and all of it restlessness….insecurities…and motives.
Thoughts that hold us back from becoming more of who God meant us to be.
These dear ones are true gifts because they hold on to hope WITH us!
They even hold onto hope FOR us!
Yes. Transition is par for the (human) course.
Kids leave home and the transition to college happens (and in my case college after college-after-college happens);
Then weddings happen (and wedding-after-wedding happens);
And grand-babies happen (and yes, grand-baby-after-precious-grandbaby happens);
And career change happens (for some, multiple career changes happen).
And mixed in with our ever-changing roles and responsibilities health-issues happen. Losses of various kind happen be it the loss of job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a marriage, or the loss of a loved one. Indeed losses come in many shapes and sizes.
One event at a time, the landscape of our personal lives, family lives, and career lives change – changing us forever.
And when loss of any kind happens…what often follows is this:
Stress happens. Relational Strain happens. Disconnect happens. And feelings of lostness begin to take hold. And we strive to make sense of it all while at the same time having to manage and maintain the present.
Each loss – no matter how great or small, has the potential of influencing the renewal of our identity at a deeply profound level.
And God is right there in the middle of our ever-changing-lives reminding us that He is always in the business of making
All things new!
“If anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
So may I ask you friend…
When life-as-you-once-knew-it comes to a screeching halt…and changing circumstances happen – changing bodies happen – changing careers happen –
and loss of any kind happens, what do you do?
Is your first response one of Resisting or Embracing?
I have felt the agony of the former, but I have also begun to understand the blessing of the latter as I have learned to navigate my way though transition with God’s loving navigational help.
It was when I began to pay attention to the way I was navigating through all the change, where I began to gain more of God’s perspective of the winds of change taking place in my life.
As I adjust to my new “Faith That Flies” kind-of-life,
I’m wondering about you fellow empty-nester, fellow Flight-Attendant, fellow parent, fellow career professional, fellow ministry leader, fellow friend:
How have you been impacted by a major life-change?
How are you being made new through the changing circumstances and roles in your journey?
What are you learning about yourself, others, and God?
And I’m wondering:
Would you be willing to share more of your journey with fellow-transitioners?
Here’s the deal:
I’d love to create a community of ‘life-transitioners’ who are not afraid to embrace more of God’s purpose and plan for their lives and willing to find the courage and strength (that God has placed WITHIN you) to become something more than you presently are.
I want to facilitate an honest and open dialog on the subject of transition that helps us discover more of who God made us be!
My hearts desire is to help you discover more of your true identity by providing a place for you to process and dialog with others as you walk through various challenges that often take place during times of transition.
I want to help you appreciate and embrace whatever transition you are currently going through because I know God wants to accomplish something wonderful WITHIN you!
It’s going to be an exciting ride!
It maybe scary at times.
You may have to face some fears.
You may have to take some risks.
You might have to let go and raise your hands and scream at top of your lungs – and lose all control!
And you just might end up saying something like…
“What. Just. Happened?!”
But I know it will be worth it!
I promise you.
Better yet…you have God’s Word as a promise to you:
I can guarantee this truth: A single grain of wheat doesn’t produce anything unless it is planted in the ground and dies. If it dies, it will produce a lot of grain.” John 12:24
And this one: “Look, I am making all things new.” Rev. 21:5
Would you like to go along for the ride with me?
You may not become a flight attendant, but you may be very surprised, as I was, to discover the new things God wants accomplish in your life.
Here’s the deal:
I’m so excited about what God has been teaching me on this subject!
I am working on a project called FOUND IN TRANSITION.
My hope is to share various aspects of my journey with you, books that I’ve read, and insights I’ve gained that have helped me navigate my way through the seasons of recent and ongoing change.
Please feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know how I can help you. Please include a summary of your transition story. I’ll follow-up with an email and we’ll go from there.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me today.
Until next time,
May your hands, feet, mind and heart be open to all God has in store for you as you move forward through NEW seasons of change.