The air was brisk as I walked a path around the park I’d spent much time at over the past four years. This evening, however, wasn’t just another routine walk. After years of full-time ministry, I was transitioning into a new season and this would be the last of what had been many mornings, afternoons, and evenings spent enjoying this familiar, meaningful place.
The change from ministry in the US to heading home to Canada, work, and school wasn’t a transition I had in the forefront of my mind, nor had I been planning the details of the move for months previous. One Monday morning it became a consideration, after seven days a decision was reached, and two weeks later I was packing up my car and headed north.
As that two-week countdown commenced, I began to realize that the process of transition and farewells shouldn’t be overlooked. Over the years many people had invested time, encouragement, counsel, prayer, and friendship into my life, and similarly, I’d also had the opportunity to pour into those around me.
To “up and leave” without proper goodbyes seemed easier on the surface but ultimately wasn’t going to effectively transition me into a new season of life.
If we’re honest, none of us enjoy goodbyes.
When done in our own strength, they tend to be difficult, uncomfortable, emotional, and tiring. Instead, most of us would probably rather ignore farewells, don a “pull-up-your-boot-straps” mentality, charge toward the next thing, and bury the internal challenges that come at us during change.
I began to quickly realize that to refuse any form of farewells would slight three areas – those I was leaving, myself, and the new season ahead.
So, what did I do? Simply put, in the strength of Jesus, I embraced the hard, the uncomfortable, the emotion, and the difficulty. None of these aspects ruled me or my altering circumstances, but I chose to acknowledge people, places, and memories and remember each as the gift they had been to me.
Any degree of change in our lives can be difficult, but the reality is that we serve a God whose nature and character cannot change. So, in the midst of what might feel like circumstantial upheaval, we can live with confidence because it is God who gives us peace and understanding for how to process and navigate through transition.
In addition to this, it’s also been key for me to walk forward in the knowledge that God will not withhold anything good from those who walk with integrity (Psalm 84:11). And as a child of God, I can rest in the assurance that He only gives good gifts to His children. Whether or not things “feel” good is irrelevant. Instead, my unwavering heart-attitude stems from the reality that God is giving what is best, is not withholding good from me, and is gaining His highest glory through my life.
Here are a few practical steps I took, and would urge others to consider, when walking through a season of transition and change.
1. Allow Blessing
Allow people to bless you. Whether this is through words of encouragement, a farewell gathering, or a parting gift. Give time and opportunity for you and others to express gratitude and appreciation for the friendships God has given.
2. Say Goodbye
This might sound simple, but take time for meaningful goodbyes. Special friendships, significant places, and the like all play an integral part in our lives. Create time to say farewell.
3. Look Ahead
Where are you going? What will be different? What difficulties will you face? How will you process and thrive in these new circumstances? Take time to think through what lies ahead, perhaps seeking counsel ahead of time, and have a plan in mind for how you’ll adjust to the new chapter you’re heading into.
Though change can present challenges, I’d encourage you to take the time to establish an intentional focus as you make any transition. This mindset will be invaluable as you see one chapter of your life come to an end and turn to navigate into new, unchartered waters.