Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Transition is a fearful thing

4-5 Complain if you must, but don't lash out.
   Keep your mouth shut, and let your heart do the talking.
   Build your case before God and wait for his verdict. 
(Psalm 4:4-5)

Transition is a time of unrest for all of us.  We like the familiarity of what we have come to know as "constant" and "secure" in our lives.  When transition is called for, we often feel like our "legs are being pulled out from under us".  This might be why we are as apprehensive in transition as we see to be.  We allow fear to guide our thoughts and influence our actions instead of taking the things we fear to God for his guidance in those times of transition.

Transition by definition is simply change - changing from one position to another, a state of "stability" into a state of the "unknown".  When we explore this definition a little further, we also see that it is characterized by times or seasons of transformation.  Transition brings with it transforming opportunities.  We enjoy the butterfly because the caterpillar underwent the transition!  There is a process in transition whereby a metamorphosis from one state or stage into another is underway.  The end result is to make us more beautiful, stronger, and different from what we were when we entered into that transition.

One of the frequent things we see when people are in a state of transition is the tendency of our nature to complain about the process.  We don't seem to understand the process, so we lash out against it.  The psalmist gives us insight into how we can approach transition with a degree of maturity that will assist us in making it through the transition in a positive manner.  
  • Limit the complaining - it is the easiest thing to do to enter into the "whining" stage of complaint when we don't understand something, we don't feel it is fair, or we don't interpret the transition as something we can endure.  Complaint is often an expression of our uneasiness over the situation at hand.  It is quite easy for complaint to go the other direction into becoming an expression of our resentment at the transition that is occurring.  How we face the transition is directly impacted by both our "self-talk" and our "outward talk" about that transition.  
  • Let your heart do the talking - when our heart does the talking, we find that what is expressed is often really the grief we are experiencing with the transition at hand.  As we let go of something we have developed a comfort level with, we often experience a deep sense of grief over the loss.  We want to hold onto what "feels secure" to us, while God may have a different plan for our "security".  Grief is understood in the midst of transition - we are parting with the old and embracing the new.
  • Build your case before God - there is no other resource is as readily available or as totally reliable to assist with the fear associated with change, the grief associated with letting go of the old, and the sense of unease created when transformation must occur.  We often gravitate toward building our case before man - our writer reminds us that God is in control, so build your case there.
  • Wait for his verdict - once you have laid it all out before God (your fear, disappointment, grief, unease, etc.), wait.  Sheesh!  Not the easiest instruction to follow, huh?  I know for a fact that I am not the best at "waiting" to see what will unfold.  It is in the "wait" that we often receive the greatest revelation of what the future holds.  Think about that caterpillar for a moment again - in the moments of transition, he is going about his daily life until one day he is somehow moved to create a new form of existence for himself.  He goes into the safety of a cocoon - a place for his transformation to occur.  That is kind of like us building our case before God - we take time to envelop ourselves in his watchful care, and then we wait for the rest to occur according to his plan.  In the end, the cocoon produces the beauty of the butterfly - sometimes it is a Monarch, other times a simply little butterfly with golden wings.  
So, whatever transition we face today, perhaps we'd do well to consider the instruction of our psalmist.  God can deal with our complaints - we need to take them to him, not others who have no control over the transition.   God is about to work in the midst of the transition - to produce what he believes will produces the greatest beauty in us.  We need to find what we need for the transition in the safety of the "enveloping" covering of his care.