There are few guarantees in life so when we find one, it makes sense to pay attention. One such assurance is that each and every one of us will go through a number of very significant transitions on our journey. Sometimes the change is joyful and fulfilling. At other times, the movement is traumatic and exhausting. Most of the time, the transition arrives unannounced with a nagging reminder that we have very little control over the circumstances of our lives.
This doesn’t mean they aren’t supremely valuable, however, because these dramatic changes guide us in getting to know ourselves better. The transitions reveal our character and clarify our reactions. The activities we can’t control force us to figure out how much we trust the one who is never out of control. This is why we often repeat the saying:
Life is made and broken in the transitions of life.
Most recently, our life changed for a number of reasons. We came to the realization that none of our sons were going to return to Southern California. They had all married well and settled into careers in other states where they lived closer to their wives’ families. At the same time, my parents reached a stage in life where they needed more attention. They are still able to live on their own but they need someone to look in on them regularly. My brother and sister are willing to help but they live out of state so this part of the family fell to me. Then, we came to the realization that our lifestyle is unique since we travel much of the year together. It makes having a typical home and schedule hard to keep up with. We concluded a change was necessary to make this season of life work.
It was traumatic because the move meant a significant downsize. It was trying because the timing was set by my parents’ needs rather than our choices. It was terrific because it gave us the opportunity to live in a marina where the ocean breeze and blue waters create an almost perfect weather pattern.
Transitions have taught us that tenaciously staying connected is one of the hardest and most effective decisions in life. Traumatic change in life has a tendency to separate people. Loving couples blame each other and loving families avoid one another to deal with the pain. We did not want this to be our legacy. Instead, we wanted to capture the power of Philippians 1:7 in all the seasons of our life.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart . . .
When you carry people in your heart, you see them differently. You give them the benefit of the doubt. You believe the best about them. You greet them with enthusiasm. You forgive easily and listen patiently. This is what makes intimate relationships work between imperfect people.
When hearts disconnect, the whole landscape shifts and we begin to evaluate one another based on behavior. This is a problem because no one can act good enough for long enough to meet the expectations of others.
The next time an unexpected transition hits our life, we will remind ourselves that keeping our hearts connected is an accomplishment we have control over when the rest of life is in the control of another.