1 a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another :change
There's a reason the most difficult stage of giving birth is called transition: because change is always the hardest part. I was struck today by how many of my friends are going through transitions. Nearly all of us are transitioning from school days to summer days. It may sound mundane, but if you've ever been a part of this particular transition, you know that it's not an easy one, even if it is an annual occurrence. Others are selling homes, moving from the deep south to North Dakota, thinking about adoption, remodeling their houses, preparing to make the leap from homeschooling one second grader to homeschooling a third grader and two kindergarteners. There's a lot going on.
I'm honestly a bit ready for a break from change in my own life. I'd like to take at least a lingering pause in one stage before moving on to yet another one. But that just doesn't seem to be on the horizon. I thought the changes our family experienced in 2010 were quite enough, thank you very much. But 2011 has brought more changes, more stretching, more unfurling. In my Bible Study last night, I was sharing about some recent events that have been encouraging and about others that make me a little fearful. Two friends in particular were really proud of me for being vulnerable and willing to choose time with friends over time alone. I laughed at their delight and almost wanted to cry when one of them remarked upon how beautiful it was. Because I've got to tell you it doesn't feel beautiful. It feels more like the transition stage of labor - hard, sweaty and a little scary - but with a bit of hope that maybe the end is near. If you can call the "end" being handed a small, helpless human being to take care of - maybe that's the true hard part about transition is that you know it's not a sign that the end is near, but that a new, more daunting task is about to start.
After B's fourth grade graduation, there was an afterschool party. Another mom of three and I were chatting. Like me, she'd been through this before. Her son is entering seventh grade and we laughed together about what emotional wrecks we will be when our youngest daughters make this transition together. She's in a good place right now. Her daughter got one of the coveted magnet school spots, so she's not worried about what next year will look like. Still, she turned to me and said, "Transition's just hard. No matter what you're going from or what you're going to, it's just hard." She couldn't be more right.
I'm excited about some of the changes that await me. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching A this year and I'm looking forward to channeling B's incessant curiosity and boundless creativity into joint learning opportunities. Just this morning, I made my daughter put a book back on the homeschool shelf in order to get her to save reading it until next year. Even as I did it, I smiled a little at the fact that I was asking her to save academic books for a few months. (And hours later I caught her sneaking two books back onto the shelf - books she'd already read.) What a blessing to have to draw this little boundary. But next year won't be simply smooth sailing. A is happiest as an independent learner. Give her two or three books on a subject, ask her to write an essay question daily and she's good to go. B wants and needs more interaction. Instead of preparing one lesson plan, I'll need two, fully customized for each child. Am I up to the challenge? I hope so because either way, there's no turning back now. And the transition to homeschooling two seems less daunting than some other things that await us.
I'm currently reading a book that's been recommended to me many times, but has never made it into my reading queue until now. This book is an allegory and in it Much-Afraid is tempted to choose the fears she knows over the promise of better things. I think this so neatly captures what is hard about transition. No matter our circumstances, we are tempted to settle for what we know rather than risk the unknown. We'll take the heartache, the sadness, the slavery that we know instead of reaching for the offer of transformation, change, redemption and freedom. I don't want to be much afraid any longer. I've spent too long like that. But a desire to change doesn't necessarily make the change any easier. It's still scary. It's still hard. It still makes my stomach clench in fear.
This morning as I ended my walk on the treadmill, I prayed for each of the women in my life that are navigating transitions right now. That's really all I can do: listen to discern that I am undertaking the changes that need to happen and pray as I walk through them - or am swept away by them.