Greek philosopher Heraclitus is credited with the quote, “Change is the only constant in life.”
While most of us likely agree with his thought…most of us would also agree that we do not like change. We don’t embrace it. We don’t look forward to it. In fact, many of us would say we dread it.
But is it really change that we fear; or is it the transition?
"It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear... It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There is nothing to hold onto." - Marilyn Ferguson, American Futurist
Change is situational - a new building, new boss, new policy. Transition is the psychological process we go through to come to terms with the change. Change is more external and transition is more internal.
Transition involves a journey from one identity to another. In between the ending of the old and the beginning of the new… is transition; and that takes time. There are some things in life you just can't rush. It takes nine months to have a baby no matter how much you might wish for the process to go more quickly… especially in those last weeks. In the end, life as it was before that child came is gone and a new exciting life with that child begins. Doing without the 9 months of transition would have been nice but unrealistic.
Think about the wilderness experience with Moses and the children of Israel. Moses caused an ending when he led his people out of Egypt. The new beginning would come upon the entering of the Promised Land. But it took 40 years of transition. It took 40 years, not because they were lost, but because it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the people and prepare them to accept a new life and new reality. It was their time of transition.
While transition is rarely fun it is also not a meaningless waste of time; it’s actually where the battle of change is fought and either won or lost. It is during transition that we ask the hard questions.
Psychologists tell us that all people perceive change as a loss. One of the first questions one naturally asks is, "What will I lose as a result of this change?"
What if we, THE Church, chose a different perspective and asked different questions? What if instead of “what will I lose?” …we were to ask, “what will be gained?” “How will this be good for me and for God’s Kingdom?”
The next time you face change, transition and all that comes with it…focus on the unchanging nature of God. Remember, “in the beginning God made the heavens and the earth”; and he has not changed. Because of that he is more than up to the task of supplying of all our needs and answering all our prayers in the midst of change. Just as he has always been!
I the Lord do not change. – Malachi. 3:6
Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, and today and forever. – Hebrews 13:8
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.” - Reinhold Niebuhr