"Change" is a word I used to relish. It meant excitement, something new, a growth experience, etc. But with each passing year, I find I am becoming more attracted to words such as stability, security, rest, etc. Yet life is full of unavoidable changes.
I have been reflecting on a type of change that William Bridges refers to as "transition." One could also refer to it as "conversion," "repentance," or "transformation," depending on the context. This is the kind of change Jesus spoke of when he said, "repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, (Mt 4:17)" It is what Paul spoke of when he wrote, "be transformed by the renewing of your mindů(Rom 12:2)" This "transition" is a fundamental change of heart and mind.
Leaving behind the way things used to be and embracing what is to become, or "transition," can be the most needed yet the most difficult kind of change to make. Let me share an example. I will call her "Chrissie." Chrissie grew up in a horrible, abusive father figure. The resulting poor choices Chrissie began to make in life resulted in a pregnancy out of wedlock and marriage to a man who believed the world should revolved around him. After several adulterous affairs and a pattern of abuse, she finally left him. Being ready for a "change," she engaged to another man scarcely two weeks later. Although man #2 was not initially abusive physically, he was emotionally abusive in the worst sort of way. Much of the same pattern repeated itself in this and subsequent marriages. She would exchange one bad relationship for another, and they all seemed to end in adulterous affairs and abuse. Even though there was much upheaval and change in her life, there was no real "transition." The inner attitude, behaviors, emotional baggage, etc. that led Chrissie to make poor decisions throughout her life remained untouched. It was only when she was "converted" to Christ that her life truly "transformed" from the inside out. Her self-destructive way of life began to subside as she became filled up with the fullness of Christ. She realized that Christ is what she needed, not "a man." Previously, she had nothing to give and desperately looked for a man to fill and complete her. Now, she discovered that the only way she could be complete was to be complete in Christ. As her inner wounds began to heal, she found that she had the capacity to love selflessly and sacrificially through the transformation of the Spirit. Her newfound strength in Christ led her to get involved in a ministry that was aimed at hurting, broken, self-destructive people. She met a good, Christian man whom she worked alongside in ministry, and they were eventually married. It was truly different this time because she was different. Even though she didn't "need" a man, she "wanted" to share the fullness of the love of Christ. They now have a beautiful family that truly reflects the love of God.
Though this is an extreme example, it still demonstrates a principle. Whether it is putting away destructive habits, graduation, a move, becoming an empty-nester, etc., if we don't move on, we came become stuck and even toxic to ourselves and those around us. Whether it is the washed out, drunken ex-jock stuck in the glory days of the past, or the overbearing grandparents who think they still need to raise their adult children, we all need to move forward.
Indeed, the entire Bible is a forward moving book inspired by a forward-looking God. Therefore, we are also to be forward looking people, forgetting what lies behind and reaching for what lies ahead. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, our forerunner. If we fix our eyes on Christ through our transitions, not only will he act as a magnet, pulling us through each chapter in our lives, but he will also enable us to make the best and greatest transition of all, the transition to glory in eternity.