Transitions: How God Uses Them
Transition is an inevitable part of life, and can take a variety of forms from going away to college, starting a new job, moving to a new place, engaging in a new relationship, grieving the loss of an established one and much more. Yet, while we can all expect to face some form of transition of another in the course of our lives, many of us tend to feel caught off guard or emotionally unprepared for it. You may be asking yourself, “Is it even possible to be fully prepared for such transitions?”
In all honesty, it usually isn’t possible to be one hundred percent prepared for all of the psychological and emotional aspects of transitioning. I do believe; however, that the idea that we should be “fully prepared” for this process is not only a myth but also lacks a biblical basis.
I’ll give the personal example of my own transition in going away to Taylor University in Upland, Indiana three years ago as a freshman; a small, rural community nearly 200 miles away from my home in south suburban Tinley Park, Illinois. Right away, I expected my experience to be amazing and did not at all consider any potential challenges: I assumed I would immediately meet new friends, enjoy living in the smallest dorm on campus, succeed in my major, and experience spiritual growth in joining a close knit Christian community.
Perhaps unsurprisingly in retrospect, none of the above actually happened in my first or even second semester at Taylor. To be perfectly honest, my relationships with both God and my peers suffered immensely at this time; as I retreated out of self-consciousness and ultimately depression. My expectations had been so narrow: I thought that if I wasn’t feeling at home or as though I fit in right where I was first semester freshman year, Taylor surely wasn’t going to be a good experience for me at all.
Rather than immediately befriending all of my floor-mates that first semester, I would go on to experience three other dorms on campus before finding a place where I felt at home. I would consider transferring more than once over the course of the next two years, and even changed my major from professional writing to social work at the start of sophomore year. Rather than meeting new friends right away, it wouldn’t be until later in my college career that I would meet many of my current friends whom I trust, who love me dearly, and around whom I can be shamelessly myself.
As I approach my senior year, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Because I didn’t grow close to most of my current Taylor friends right away, I only came to love and appreciate them as individuals that much more when I did. Because I experienced anxiety and depression for much of my freshman through the start of my sophomore year, I learned to love who God has created me to be that much more and begin to challenge self-deprecating thoughts thanks to an amazing counselor on campus that year. Because I met and worked with her, my desire to be a counselor and long standing passion for mental health was re-awakened. It was precisely because my initial expectations regarding my college years were defied in every possible way that I was ultimately able to grow closer to God and my peers, re-discover a passion, and come to love and appreciate the Taylor community for what it truly is and what it has to give, flaws and all.
In Isaiah 64:8, it is said that despite our inherent sinful nature and tendency to lack faith in God, He is still molding and shaping us into the people He created each of us to be. It reminds us, “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”
While it may be tempting to attempt to execute control over our lives by stubbornly clinging to our own expectations in facing transitions, I don’t believe that is what God wants for any of us. If I’ve learned anything in the past three years, it’s that He has a way of using the unexpected to stretch and mold us into who we’ve each been created to be. Consider that the next time you’re faced with a major transition or adjustment, and ask God to reveal what it is He has for you by way of it.