Handling Tough Transitions With Gratitude

It’s about 3:30 a.m. and I’m wide awake. It’s not just stress that’s dragged my butt out of bed; it’s change.

Pretty much my whole life is in a state of transition right now.

• Laura and I just signed the papers this week to sell our current home and to buy another one in the (Spokane) valley.
• The church I pastor is making some significant cultural shifts in the way we do things. We’re not changing our mission or vision, but we are making some changes to our means and methods.
• One of my kids is going through a divorce.
• Another one of my kids and her family are probably moving out of Spokane soon.

Believe me, I could go on. Transitions are happening at a rapid pace, and I feel a bit overwhelmed at times. Some of the changes are good—very good. Others are painful—very painful.

So, what do you do when what was normal is no longer normal?

For example, Laura and I have lived in our current home for eleven years, and we’ve loved every minute. We know and deeply love a lot of our neighbors. We enjoy the wildlife that frequents our yard. It’s been a wonderful place for us, but my wife and I know it’s time for a change. So, our normal living situation for a long time is about to alter considerably for some very good reasons. However, we will miss this home.

I’m the founding and senior pastor at Eastpoint Church. Lord willing, I’m not going anywhere for a long time, but ministry transitions and even staff transitions are happening whether I like it or not. My daughter Jessica and her husband have been on staff for over ten years, and they’re the ones moving out of Spokane for a new ministry opportunity soon. And every time I think about them and my two grandchildren moving out of the area, I cry. Every. Time. But Jesus is taking them and Eastpoint on to a new season of blessing and joy.

Again, what do you do when transitions happen?

Here are some things I am learning and trying to put into practice.

• Be grateful for the good, and trust that God is still in control even when change is tough. I can fix my attention on what’s being lost or choose to thank him for all that he has done in our past and will do in our future. I choose thankfulness.

• Be excited about and embrace the new. Let’s own it; we humans get comfortable with routine. We are very fond of the familiar. Change is rarely easy or fun. However, if I’d stayed stuck where I once was, I might not have experienced the good that I have since the last time I embraced major change in my life.

For example, if I’d never moved from Portland over twenty years ago, I never would have experienced the past two decades of amazing blessings here in Spokane. Besides, too often the familiar becomes stale, and routine becomes a rut. That’s why new and fresh is generally good. I choose to believe that the new ahead for me can be as good as or better than the old behind me.

Frankly, when I was a young man, change came far more rapidly, and I accepted it far more easily. Now, my old body would rather settle than stretch. There’s a part of me that is a little bit tired, and I just want to hunker down and rest.

But maybe God knows that change keeps me humble, and learning, and dependent on him.

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” —Revelation 21:5

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