My daughter teared when her husband dismantled the crib. Their youngest turned three a couple of days ago and has tired of her baby bed and wants a big girl bed to replace it. So down came the crib and up went a big girl bed. Goodbye to babyhood.
Transitions. Life is filled with them. Some bring tears, other laughter but all mean saying goodbye. Retirement means goodbye to work-life, a welcome transition in some ways but not in all ways. A new home, different job, graduation, marriage, divorce, birth, death – change is inescapable.
A year and a half ago, we moved from the city we’d lived in for 31 years. (Here’s a story about that goodbye) Our third child was born there. We’d spent 23 of those years in the same house. Our move meant saying goodbye to memories associated with the house, the neighbourhood and the city. It meant saying goodbye to special friends and co-workers. The move was a happy one in that our new location is near all 3 of our children and 2 grandchildren. I felt the pain of saying goodbye to happy memories. But we were marching forward to something good so the pain was swallowed up by anticipated joys.
Even joyful transitions can leave us a little dazed. Walking away from the past, even a painful one, presents an adaptation challenge. Victims in transition have to be willing to give up a macabre attachment to gloom. We might think that would be easy but letting go of emotional pain means becoming someone new, building better attachments and being willing to lay down anger and revenge. That’s a challenge.
Life pushes us from one phase to another. It doesn’t wait for us to wet our toes in the future before deciding to plunge. Often it heaves us off the end of the dock into deep water – sink or swim it says.
With God’s help we can embrace the future with hope. We can say goodbye to cribs, open the door of independence for children, move our belongings across the country and take up residence in new neighbourhoods, retire from our jobs and take on new projects. We can do it because God is with us, urging us to discover joy in each new phase of life.
Are you in transition? Moving from a comfortable stage of life to an awkward one? I find it helps to remember past changes and how we survived them. It bolsters our courage for new challenges. Norman H. Wright makes another suggestion – one I hadn’t thought of – write a goodbye letter to the past. Putting our feelings to paper is therapeutic. We often find comfort in our own words. As someone once said – the best sermons we’ll ever hear are the ones we preach to ourselves.
The Message paraphrases Psalm 139:16 with these words: “all the stages of my life were spread out before you.”
The Amplified Version translates the same verse: Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.
He is Emmanuel, God with us, with us before any of our features were formed, with us before our first transition was made . . . and with us when we make life’s final transition into the arms of Jesus.
Making it Personal: Lord, help me to accept the changes that each phase of my life brings. I know you are with me, helping me to find good in all situations and using all circumstances in my life to draw me closer to you.