There are two constants in life: Change and God. From the moment of conception, life is in flux, changing, moving from one stage to another, leaving you never quite certain of what will transpire. You may be making the transition from being a child at home to living on your own. Later in life you may change jobs, marry and start a family, face the loss of your health or challenge of aging gracefully. Change is constant. The other constant is God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. God is immutable, never changing in His character, consistent within Himself, complete, and eternal in His goodness, holiness, love and truth. That’s encouraging. That means that when life goes into chaos mode, I can find sanctuary in the storm at any time or place. When I turn to God, I find my Rock of stability and strength
Change for me means preparing for our sixth international move. We will move from Manila, Philippines to Kiev, Ukraine in June. I love the people and experiences we have had here, but I look forward to the opportunities that await us in Kyiv. I am aware of the stages of transition by now. A few months before the move takes place, my emotions begin to experience the discomfort of the coming disconnect, goodbyes (which I never say, only until we meet again), packing and chaos stage until transition is complete in another part of the world. Fortunately, in the flat world of globalization, goodbyes are no longer necessary. It is possible to communicate instantly and jet off to revisit the places and people you have left. I am not envious of missionaries one hundred years ago who had to travel on long sea voyages and wait eons for cherished letters and packages from friends and family.
When you read books on transition, that period of holding your breath in mid-air like a trapeze artist who has let go of one ring, but has yet to grab hold of the next, is called the “chaos” stage. I would like to rename it or skip it entirely. Imagine for a moment, unless it has been all too real for you as it has been for me, in a matter of days arriving in a different part of the world knowing that you will stay, not only visit. Imagine the new sights and sounds, language in some cases, culture, home, people, everything changing so drastically and suddenly. Actually, it can be a wonderful adventure when the constant, God, is with you.
Here are a few things that have helped me when I go through change or transition:
1. Find a sanctuary – Make a time and place to meet with God on a daily basis. I have made it a habit to read the Bible every day for twenty years, no matter what is going on all around me. I confess, some of my favorite sanctuaries are coffee shops. You can enter a Starbucks anywhere in the world and it is the same. It is an international zone, which makes me feel at home. In NYC, one of my favorite sanctuaries was the courtyard of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was near our girls’ school. What a privilege it is to live in such wonderful places!
2. Stay focused – Remember that God has a purpose in the change that is taking place and keep up with your family and life responsibilities.
3. Value your relationships – Spend time with family members or important people in your life in non-stressful settings.
4. Let go of the past – If God is doing something new, then take time to assess the past, hold onto the good, and leave excess baggage or bad experiences behind.
5. Keep a positive, thankful attitude – If you are like me, there is always a long list of things to be thankful for. Choose gratitude and joy.
6. Give yourself and others room to adapt – Change is not easy, in most cases. Don’t expect yourself to adapt instantly. There may be some unexpected emotions that come up or things to work through, but that is just part of the process.
“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30)