Examine how you feel during each season in life

Standard

This past Sunday Rich spoke on “transition” and as a Christian how do we deal with that? And also what are we feeling during those times?

Everyone will face some sort of transition in their life. Some are much larger in scope than others are. Some people will face transition more than others. And also sometimes you will have seasons of constant transition in your life and sometimes you will have none.  Having experienced many transitions and also some seasons where nothing changes I don’t think one is better than the other, it all depends on how you deal with it. Obviously, as Rich pointed out, some people (Christian or not) are unable to deal with a change in routine. It is disruptive and can leave you confused or feeling alone.

I have felt this before as I have constantly had seasons of transition in moving to different locations. With my dad being a pastor, we moved a lot. I was born in Ashland, Ohio and lived there from 1980-1984. Then my dad was called to his first pastorate at Gretna Brethren Church, so in 1984 we moved to Bellefontaine, Ohio. I was too young to remember this transition so it did not affect me all that much. We lived in Bellefontaine till 1991 and then my dad was called to pastor New Lebanon Brethren Church in New Lebanon, Ohio. I do remember this transition. It was tough having to leave some friends that I had made. But as Rich discussed, I learned to cope over time and make new friends.

Four years later we moved to Wabash, Indiana as my dad began a pastorate at College Corner Brethren Church in 1995.  This transition was much more difficult.  I was ready to transition into High School and I had to leave it all and go to a completely new school in a new state.  I remember not wanting to move but it was not my choice really.

I have since moved a few more times going back to Ashland, Ohio for college in 1999; back to Wabash for one year out of college, back to Ashland for seminary in 2005 and then here to Columbus, Ohio in 2008.  All those transitions were much easier and I had friends to help me cope along the way.

Trying new things can be hard for some.  Also, as previously stated, there is no quick fix for these transitions.  It takes time to find out who you are and who you want to be.  For me, the easiest way to deal with these was to make new friends.  I had to also find connections with people in situations where I felt comfortable, like going to sporting events, and make connections so I would not become completely isolated.

Just some random thoughts I have about all this:  Looking back on all these situations I feel that somehow I was fine with the transition of moving.  The biggest issue I have now is wondering if I am not in a “transition” am I ok with that?  Can I settle down.  Can I enjoy life sitting still or staying in one place? A question I have to ask myself is:  Am I not looking deeper into what God wants me to do here in Columbus because I am afraid that if I find that, I am once again going to be moving along somewhere else?

Maybe you are like me and have these thoughts of what to do with your life.  I think that those that are in some phase of transition and those that are not  can possibly be searching for the same things.  God, companionship, friendship, acceptance and self worth.  If so, questions that examine how we feel during these transitions or lack there of can be important ones to ask ourselves.

Alone…And Not Alone

Standard

As a petulant child, I can remember saying “leave me alone!” Yet I might have silently added in my head, “but not too long.” This Sunday, Pastor Rich talked about the Christian alone and how rare it actually is to be alone. Some of this has to do with the myriad distractions in our lives–our work, families, and an ever more ubiquitous technology. The latter is sometimes a paradox as we are connected to the world digitally and more socially cut off than ever.

Bob Trube2

Alone often seems to equate with loneliness. And yet sometimes I’ve felt most lonely in a crowd of people, and not at all lonely by myself. What is harder though is being alone, and unplugged. For ten seconds, there is the blessed silence of alone–and then the thoughts come. Sometimes it is recalling a task that I need to accomplish and it is relatively easy to add that to a “to do” list and return to silence. Sometimes it can be a fairly constructive process of mentally chewing over a problem or thinking through an upcoming presentation and beginning to experience the gelling of my thoughts.

What can be harder are some of the other kinds of thoughts. At least for me, and this may reveal my own dysfunctionality, the thoughts can be of shortcomings or failings–the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” kind of accusations that remind me that I could be a better person than I am. Or it can be thoughts of the tempting sort as I become aware of hunger and other desires. No wonder it is easy to open up the computer or turn on the radio.

What sometimes seems to help is remembering that I am alone…and not alone. I am not just with my thoughts but with the God who knows my thoughts, and neither runs away in horror or hammers me into oblivion. Instead he invites me to confess them, the word “confess” meaning “to agree with.” Somehow, acknowledging my failings, my frustrations, my desires, my anxieties seems to bring me to a place where i can let go of them into God’s care–kind of like telling your dad about something that was really bugging you as a kid, and then somehow knowing it would be all right. Dad knew.

Sometimes just to get to this point is blessed relief. But sometimes we might experience something more. That is when silence and aloneness leads to stillness. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Sometimes, I believe there is a point in aloneness where no words are needed, where our clamoring thoughts for just a moment are stilled, and we are just being with the God who is “I am”. We are both in wonder in the presence of the Holy One, and basking in the delight of being the beloved of the Father.

And this perhaps is the point where we might “hear” God. It might be a scripture that comes to mind. Perhaps a person comes to mind to call, or pray for, or visit. Sometimes there is nothing but being alone in the Presence, and attentive to whatever may come in the hours ahead. Rich observed that when we’ve been attentive to our thoughts and attentive to God, then we are best prepared to be attentive to others and truly enter into community.

Where do I get alone? Rich’s suggestion that if no where else we might find aloneness in the toilet might be the answer for some. For me, it is getting up in the early morning and sitting in a rocker with my first cup of coffee. Sometimes, it is a long meandering walk. And sometimes, it seems to be working out my thoughts in writing–with the “new mail” sounds muted. Wherever and however it is, somehow aloneness and stillness seems to be health for us and for our communities.

A good friend of ours teaches me much about the wonder of being alone, quiet, waiting. She writes a blog called QuietKeepers. I would commend it to give you a taste of the riches of coming to the place of quiet.