The reason we choose to focus on transitions, as I did at a retreat I recently facilitated, is that those are situations that often bring about a change in the way a person sees herself and her relationship with the world and with God. At times like that, I believe we reach out to God more and hear God more easily. So when we are in transition, we are on sacred ground.
And yet as I worked more deeply with the theme, it was clear to me that there are other ways, too, in which a person can start to rethink who she is and how God calls her to be in the world. As a spiritual director, I am acutely aware of how things can change in our lives without it triggering the kind of inward shift that I think of in connection with transition. A mismatch like that can often be a source of great pain.
So rather than thinking of a different skill set to pull out for use in transitions, I was drawn to thinking about the ways in which we change, whether they are gradual adjustments or there is a precipitating event that shakes things up.
When I think about transition now, I think about it as just another small step in the ongoing process of becoming the gift in the world that God wants us to be, to use Parker Palmer’s language. Every day of our lives, indeed, a multitude of times every day, we are given the choice of acting in ways that embody God’s love for us and every other created being. Moving through a transition is just like any other discernment process: we are seeking the way and the place where our gifts can be put to the use of our community in a way that will be enriching for all. We can move forward joyfully, confidently, knowing that God has good things in store for everyone. We can be assured, too, that even if we don’t get our discernment quite right the first time, God will find a way to bring good things out of the mistake we may be making. There is no cause for fear.
In fact, one of the ways we know we are making the right choice is the sense of peace, rightness, unity with others, and other “fruits of the Spirit” that accompany any movement we make towards God and God’s calling for us.
For prayerful consideration:
Think of a time when you know God was lovingly guiding you into the right place, a place that was fulfilling to you and met the needs of others. Think of a time when you think you may have made the wrong choice, and yet God brought good out of the situation.