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Bridging Transitions – Part Three {Giving Birth}

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Bridging Transitions – Part Three {Giving Birth}

I don’t usually yell at my husband. I’m not a yeller. But in this instance, I was screaming my head off just inches from his ear.

“WHY IS NO ONE HELPING ME? I NEED SOME HELP!”

Daryl patted my arm and looked around in dismay.

“It’s transition,” mouthed one of the nurses. “This is totally normal.”

I’m one of those crunchy-hippie-granola folks who willingly chooses natural birth. It’s funny because I’m not that much of a hippie in real life. I wear black pencil skirts to work and I eat way more Skittles than granola.

But birth I do the natural way.

It’s intense as all-get-out, but when I go to the same mental place I do when I run long distances, I can manage it. I can’t think about every footfall or agonize over the miles yet ahead or I’ll never make it. But if I just take one step, one yard, one contraction at a time, let it pass, and then tackle the next one, I find a way through.

I’m no hero—I have relatively quick, straightforward labors, and I’m 103% sure if labor went long I’d beg for an epidural.

Yet even with an easy natural birth, there’s this pivotal point when most women stop feeling at all like themselves and start behaving like wild, cornered animals.

It’s called transition.

Transition is the worst pain ever. Evereverevereverever. I walked on a broken ankle for three months in high school. I’m not a wimp. But transition? Yeah. It’s serious.

I have usually silent friends who’ve admitted to screaming through transition; incredibly modest friends who’ve told me they ripped off every stitch of clothing. I usually pride myself on my self-control, but during transition with my firstborn, I alternated between growling, yelling “NO ONE IS HELPING ME!” at everyone within earshot (all of whom were helping me), and praying loud, charismatic prayers to Jesus at the top of my lungs. I’m not charismatic.

With my second birth, my husband could tell by the changes in my demeanor that I was entering transition. Unlike the first time, it didn’t worry, confuse, or scare him, but he definitely knew to get his ears well out of the way of my vocal chords.

“It’s super intense,” he said afterward, “but at least I recognized it. You just let your body and Jesus take over.” Pretty much.

Birth transitions are raw, visceral examples of every other kind of transition we face. Some are big and some are small, but none are easy. They’re rarely pretty. They often involve some pain, some yelling, and some gnashing of teeth. When you’re in a transition you may look, to people on the outside, like you’re losing your ever-living mind, when in reality, you’re just doing your best to push through to the other side.

My husband and I bought a house this year. Our first. Like the births of both of our children, it was a joyful, sweet, incredibly good event. We anticipated it for years and planned it for months. Yet it was still a transition, and like any other, it was hard.

For years we saved. For months we searched. For weeks we packed. No one could find their favorite books or toys or pairs of jeans. We ate In n’ Out burger more than was healthy for any humans, and at one point we owned four can openers because we kept having to buy more.

As the moving date drew near we all got snappish and inwardly focused and exhausted. And when the final days came—cleaning our old condo at odd hours of the night, packing the last of what seemed like a thousand boxes—we prayed a lot of fervent and exhausted prayers.

In the worst moments of my births, I stopped yelling and began to whisper, “Help me, Jesus. Help me, help me, help me.” (tweet this)

In the worst moments of this move, of each new job, of each new school year, of each of the transitions life has thrown my way, I’ve done the same.

Anne Lamott writes in Traveling Mercies that her two favorite prayers are “Help me, help me, help me,” and “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Transition is hard. If you’re in one right now, you know what I mean. Even good transitions bring a weight, an ache, a season of deep and abiding fatigue.

But on the other side of each transition, life is made new. Jesus walks with us through the pain and waits for us on the other side making a way, a path, a road through the wilderness.

Much of my life is built on logic and reason, the study of Scripture, theology, and the ways of God throughout history.

But in the throes of transition, it is not my intellect that carries me. It is the grace and love of the God who knows suffering and promises to walk with us through the fire. (tweet this)

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

Courtney Ellis

Courtney Ellis is an author, speaker, and pastor in California. She’s mom to two small boys and wife to one tall man, and when she’s not at church or parked in front of her keyboard, she’s running the trails, listening to Christmas music during inappropriate seasons, or seeking out new sugary treats. She blogs about faith, parenthood, and ministry and offers free weekly 10-Minute-Devotionals at www.courtneybellis.com.

 

 

 

 

Read more:

Bridging Transitions – Part One by Andrea Stunz

Bridging Transitions – Part Two by Dana Herndon

Bridging Transitions Part 3

Bridging Transitions – Part One

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Bridging Transitions – Part One

If you’re like me, as the current year winds down, we begin searching for the perfect planner. We stock up on cool highlighters and maybe even calligraphy pens to ink down our plans in style, set goals, and press into the future with hope. With the impending turn of the new year, we plant seeds of hope in preparation for the change that will inevitably come.

We exist in a world of constant change. Change promotes growth. Growth brings pain. Pain builds strength. These elements of change are the ingredients in a transition. We play a big role in how the recipe turns out.

Certain transitions for me have been harder than others. Moving from my childhood home to setting up life with my new husband was another tricky loop in my timeline. Moving from the control I had in my singleness to being permanently linked to another human. Being the mom of two children after only being the mom of one for a while was incredibly challenging (and exhausting) for me. Navigating multiple overseas moves. Launching my babies out into the big and often bad world. Weathering particularly challenging seasons of marriage. I’m sure your life has yielded similar tales.

One thing I’ve learned through my years and tears is to give myself grace for at least one year after navigating a major transition. When my marriage was failing, I needed space to breathe. When we moved overseas, I needed space to breathe. When our children left our home, I needed space to breathe. I learned this from all the years before of forging through, staying too busy, foregoing rest and not taking in the life-giving elements that were necessary for navigating the endings and new beginnings. Change promotes growth. Growth brings pain. Pain builds strength.

During seasons of change, the waters below rage fiercely as we walk across the bridge from the life we’ve known to another packed with potential but also the reality that we could lose our footing and fall in. We simply must offer ourselves grace in the space and take it slow.

The Koru, one of my favorite Maori symbols, depicts new life, growth, strength and peace. It illustrates the unfurling of a silver fern frond opening up from its tightly clenched ball as it begins to breath in new life. I have such a great fondness for the Koru that I have one in the shape of a heart tattooed on my arm. This image permanently inked into my skin gives me hope in my transitional seasons.

2017 has been a year of transitions for me and our family. My wise sister once advised me to write down all of the big, heavy and hard. She said that the list itself probably wouldn’t change my crazy but I would at least be able to see WHY it’s all so crazy.

Owning our crazy is a great first step to navigating transitions. (tweet this)

This year has brought an international move (after only one year from the last international move), launching our last child and becoming empty nesters, turning 50, turning up the heat on menopause (literally), and a job position change that has my husband and I navigating a long-distance marriage for an indefinite period of time. Not to mention that this job change has me doing a lot of settling in to our new house, new city and our country-living lifestyle alone. This is the stuff of crazy, y’all!

At times, the current of 2017 has threatened to suck me under but I’m happy to report that I’ve weeble-wobbled myself across the bridge and find myself still standing. I remind myself, however, of the “grace in the space” rule. I’m not taking on too much too quickly. I’m resting. I’m breathing. I’m growing.

Our 3-year-old grandson is a brave and adventurous one. This is evidenced by how haphazardly he tramples down a set of stairs. By adult mandate, he places one hand on the rail and the other in mine. He joyfully hops his way down not looking to see where his feet are landing. He must know that if he stumbles I will catch him and keep him from tumbling down. I remind him to look forward and to be careful but my primary focus is that he gets to where he needs to go.

As I walk across my “bridge”, I keep one hand on the rail and the other in God’s hand as he guides me across. Unlike my grandson, I step bravely and slowly forward. Because I’ve lived longer and know the ache of the fall. God reminds me to look forward and to be careful but His primary focus is that I get to where I need to go.

Bridging transitions is all about taking the next step. And then the next. (tweet this)

Two things we need to know and believe when we’re navigating transitions:

1. You’re Going to be Okay! This book by Lysa TerKeurst is amazing! It was written for children but the message in it has been so encouraging to me lately. I think you’ll agree.

2. Jesus never changes but He changes everything. – While everything around us changes, Jesus is a firm foundation. His presence is key to staying grounded while successfully reaching the other side.

I hope you’ll stay tuned in as the Bridging Transitions series continues. I have some incredible guest bloggers lined up who are generously offering hope and encouragement for us all through sharing about their times of transitions.

Can you see how the transitional seasons of your life afforded growth and strength? What is your Koru story? Share here in the comments or pop over to the EPFH Facebook page if that’s easier for you. Also, if you wouldn’t mind, share this post so others can be encouraged throughout this series. Thanks, friends!

Join your fellow pilgrims as we walk each other Home.

~Andrea

Bridging Transitions

 

 

Photo by Vitaly on Unsplash