We’re in the land of between, once again, one day removed from our “nest” being empty and this time for good. My wife Holly calls it the end of an era. We both try not to think about it very much although I just had to quietly slip into our youngest daughter’s bedroom this morning and kiss her goodbye, both literally and figuratively, before I left for work. Tomorrow morning at this time she will wake up in a new room in her new home and we will wake up to the memories of her that echo from her empty bedroom down the hallway- the bedroom once occupied by her older sister next to the empty bedroom of her older brother next to the empty bedroom of their oldest sister.
Not sure how I like these kinds of changes that drop me into such a neutral zone and re-arrange the furniture of my status quo, everyday life; the normal life. Normal feels good and it’s not really appreciated until it is taken away or pushed aside by something new or different. Normal feels like pulling on a good fitting pair of broken-in jeans. Changing them out with something new takes a little getting used to. This “getting used to” is the neutral zone, it’s the time needed to let go, deal with an ending, or say goodbye to a loss. So it’s not usually the change that gets us, it’s the transition—not taking the time to work our way through the neutral zone until the new takes hold.
Thank God He created us with an amazing ability to adapt to change. The human body is capable of adapting to climate extremes, altitude, weightlessness, stress, alcohol, financial crises, poor nutrition,obsessive work habits, emotional traumas and other manifestations that we either bring on ourselves or have been brought on by circumstances beyond our control. In Ephesians 3:20 it says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”
This is what works in changing times, turbulent times, chaotic times, and even times like saying goodbye to life as it has been known for more than thirty years and saying hello to an empty nest. And in their book titled, “Managing Transitions, Making the most of change", William Bridges and Susan Bridges give us some good advice in transitioning well, particularly in organizations, but also applicable to individuals. They say,
1. Take comfort in knowing this is an area that is well mapped, we’ve been here before.
2. Understand the difference between change (situational) and transition (psychological). It’s important to internalize and come to terms with the change.
3. Understand that transitions start with an ending and end with a new beginning. Deal first with the ending, the losing, the letting go.
4. Find words to talk about it. Unmanaged transition makes change unmanageable.
5. Make up our minds to stop doing things the old way and start doing things a new way. Shift into a new gear!
And always, with crucial conversations, remember how God is able to not just help us muddle through but “to do exceeding abundantly.”