Last night we gathered with several close friends and family to celebrate 3 wonderful life transitions. Our move to Scotland, my dad’s 60th birthday, and my brother’s 27th birthday! Life transitions serve as markers along the journey. Monuments indicate that one season is concluding, so that another may begin. Whenever I approach a significant life change, a predictable process ensues. Excitement rises, nerves buzz, and expectation leads to several restless nights and antsy days. I know that the moment I pull out the rolls of packing tape and cardboard boxes, I won’t be settled until I’m on the other side. Finished with the packing, moving, unpacking, and resettling. I’m such a forward thinker, which means I have trouble being content in the moment. So along those lines, I found myself saying “We’re just ready to go” to multiple people at the party last night. That was in no way intended to discredit the pleasure of spending time with those we were with! But it was rather a reflection of my internal climate. READY and ANTICIPATORY. There are still loose ends to wrap up before we step aboard the plane, but mentally and emotionally I have come to the point that the preparation phase is passing by and the action phase is here. “Let’s go!” I think multiple times a day. But the transition-tension is a good teacher on patience, especially for yours truly.
And so, I am striving to experience the shift. The ups and downs of emotions. The excitement and impatience. The tears, the laughs. The stresses and the reprieves. If I don’t, the occasional meltdown lurks, waiting for its moment where something small, unrelated, and petty sends me into a momentary, faith-faltering tailspin where I think, “How’s it all going to come together?!!!” “We have to do this…that…and that, and this!!!” Those moments where it looks like too much in a limited amount of time. But what has life taught me so far? It all comes together. It all gets finished. We will look back and see God’s grace upon us. Look down at the waves beneath us, or up to Jesus walking upon the deep. There’s always a choice. Hmmm…this rings a bell! (A shameless plug for Nathan’s most recent sermon, “The Passerby”)
Life transitions are both a thing of joy and grief; gain and loss. What we have known to be our daily reality will change, and we’ll be invited to embrace something entirely new, as we release the old. A new normal. I have often told clients, with regard to grief and loss, that there is much to be said about ceremonies and memorializing the lives of those they have loved and lost. It is therapeutic and significant for the person walking through grief to do something unique and personally meaningful to remember a loved one. And more than once! So whether it be through a specially made photo box, the planting of a new tree, the organization of a special annual gathering, or many other things that help memorialize ones we love. Ceremonies and memorials are important. And not just for the death of a loved one, but also for major life changes. And even more so in the life of Christian faith.
So I am doing this now. Raising my stone called Ebenezer, saying “Til now the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12, ESV). Marking this spot and time as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us in the past, and proclaiming Him to be faithful as we move forward in hope and anticipation. At a later time in life, I pray that I can look back and remember all of the monuments that I have raised as a testament to God’s faithfulness throughout my life. They will be far and wide, spread out across the globe. The current one being raised in Littleton. Next one, Aberdeen.