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How To Survive A Transition

September 29, 2010

It’s good to have a sanctuary, a quiet place and time reserved for connecting with the Creator. From 1990 to 1996 we lived in Dubuque, Iowa, a beautiful city nestled in the bluffs of the Mississippi River. My favorite sanctuary was on the banks of a little stream located a few miles from our home. As I walked the trail to get there, it felt like I was entering holy ground. Sometimes I would just sit and listen. Other times I’d arrive with a specific issue to debate.

One day I walked back to my car in frustration; I hadn’t received the answer to whatever issue I had hoped to dump in my sanctuary. I was in the limbo of transition, that uncomfortable space between something old that hasn’t quite ended and something new that hasn’t yet begun.  At one point my thoughts exclaimed, “God, it’s a constant battle!”

And the small, still voice said, “Of course it is.”

It was an epiphany of sorts. Life is a constant battle, especially if you are committed to living a life that matters, a life of purpose. Laziness, procrastination, and envy lie waiting in ambush. If you don’t wake up each day prepared to do battle with these and other enemies, it’s easy to lose hope. If you embrace the truth, your endurance may surprise you.

We transitioned to Kansas City in December 1996. Now my favorite sanctuary is an old, blue chair in my wood-paneled office. I go there to connect with my Creator three or four days a week. Then I go for a walk on the bluffs that overlook the Missouri River, and the conversation continues. Today as I wandered in limbo, whining once again about the difficult transitions of life, I heard a distant echo:

“It’s a constant battle.”

Oh yeah, I forgot.

“No you didn’t. Tell yourself the truth. You denied.”

Ouch. The truth hurts. But it’s still the truth. I have never forgotten that a life of purpose is a constant battle; I just long for it to be otherwise. Once you find your purpose and begin to redeem it for the benefit of your family, friends, and community, you start to think life should be served up free and fresh, on a piping hot silver platter! But that’s not the way it is. I  know better. Denial is not a river in Egypt. It is an attitude I cultivate all too often.

It’s easy to lose hope when you’re lost in limbo. It helps to recall that limbo doesn’t last forever; you have survived other transitions. And remember, that which does not kill you makes you stronger.

And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

(Romans 5)

Post Script, 2/3/11: Pay attention to the space you’re in when seeking a specific outcome. See Seth Godin’s blog post, “The Space Matters”.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Janny permalink
    September 30, 2010 12:22 am

    Sent this over to Heather, she seems to be in the similar place you are. It was written well Richard, as always your emotions tugs on my heart.
    Will be praying for you~

  2. October 10, 2010 4:21 pm

    Had to come back to this Richard and tell you this is one of your best. And that I know exactly what you’re talking about. I am one of those who would like life to be easy, yet it hasn’t been – on the contrary it’s been full of trauma and tragedy.

    I remember hearing a woman on a Christian radio program years ago saying that she understood that God wants to work on our character but she would just as soon be a shallow person! I had to laugh because I totally understood where she was coming from and felt the same way! Ah, but God treats us as his children and therefore is always teaching, training and discipling us.

  3. October 10, 2010 5:18 pm

    Thanks, Janny. Thanks, Anne. Your words encourage me.

  4. October 12, 2010 2:01 pm

    I just keep on wanting what I want…….trying to get my way. and you’re right the truth hurts.

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