Transition: 1. Movement, passage, or change from one position, state, stage, subject or concept to another. 2. A period during childbirth that precedes the birthing phase of labor.
“…One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal…” Philippians 3:12
My friend is in a season of transition right now. She is in that difficult “in-between” period of time where she has commenced her journey towards the fulfillment of her dreams and goals but is yet to see the results of her labor. I’ve listened to her crying out “I can’t do this. I don’t want to do this. I want to go home. I want to go back to bed. I want to go away on a holiday. I want to give up.” As I watch her navigate this season, I can see how
deeply uncomfortable painful it is for her but I know she mustn’t give up.
Like my friend, I have birthed four children and I understand the reality of the “transition” phase. In childbirth, transition is the period of time where there is (sometimes) a lull between the first stage of contractions and the second stage of impending birth. I remember transition being that time when I suddenly and irrationally said “I don’t want to do this any more. I want to go home!”
That “I cant do this – I’m going home” statement usually got the attention of the midwife because they recognized I was on the verge of giving birth. The midwife’s role was then to keep my attention focused on birthing the baby because she knows that during transition I will lose my focus and I will want to give up.
As I was reading my friends’ blog post about her current period of transition (check it out here) I was impacted by what she had written. She writes (and I paraphrase), “we spend so much time thinking and dreaming and planning for a future where we see our dreams fulfilled, our goals reached, our lifestyle improved and our relationships deepened. We set goals and then we anticipate a prize, BUT, we forget there is a chasm of time between our dream and the fulfillment of that dream.”
As I think about my own goals and dreams I can see how it’s precisely at that moment when I say “I can’t do this”, that I need to push on. If I want to see my goals and dreams ‘birthed’, I have to, quite literally, keep going. I can’t stop in the middle of transition! If I stop in that one small chasm of time (that doesn’t feel like a small amount of time at the time!), my dream may go unfulfilled!
I cannot see my future. But God can. I do not plan my own steps (as much as I’d like to think I do). But God does. He has a plan and a purpose for my life. He knows my future and His plans for my life are good and will fill me with hope.
But there’s a “but”. (Why is there always a “but”?).
Just because God’s plans for my future are good, it doesn’t mean there won’t be hardship, difficulty, pain, loss, disappointment, hurt, discouragement, or misunderstandings. And often all of these things happen right in that difficult season of transition. Just when I feel ready to give up and go home, extra burdens seem to come my way, making the season even more painful and hard to navigate.
In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul writes a letter to the people of Corinth saying: “I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I’m glad – not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss. Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. Those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets…But isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has drawn you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter…
Next time, instead of complaining when I find myself in a season of wanting to give up, I will recognize the season for what it is – transition – and remember that simply means I’m in the middle of changing from one position to another. Whatever it is that is causing me to be in this season, I will persevere. And I will “rejoice when I run into problems and trials for I know that they will help me develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character and character strengthens my confident hope of salvation which will not lead to disappointment because the love of God has been poured out into my heart.” (Romans 5:3-4)
Yes, transition hurts. It’s upsetting. But only for a little while. And there’s a purpose for going through it.
In the past I have let transition (long seasons of doubt and disappointment) drive me away from God. But I see now that He allowed me to go through difficult transition phases in order that I would draw closer to Him. In doing so I have developed endurance, confidence and strength. And these are things that make labor worthwhile.