The Muddy Mess of Change
I was never very fond of the time between winter and spring. Gone is the beautiful snow and frozen earth, slowly taken over by slush, rain, and mud. Although spring is on the horizon, we are stuck for a time in an unpleasant limbo where we get neither the beauty of winter nor the perks of spring.
Nature itself models the importance of change and growth in creation through the seasons and life cycles of all living things. Like it or not, there’s a necessary bridge between the old and the new… a time we call transition.
Most life transitions have a stout season of the muddy in-between. Sure, we sometimes make our major life changes seamlessly: that job transfer to a new city was not as hard as you pictured or that move of your mother to a nursing home ends up being a relief for you and her.
But most of the time, there’s a season of mud. A lot of mud. And muddy footprints have a way of getting tracked into every other area of your life. Mud seems to rule the day.
Maybe you would really like a life WITHOUT the mud. Maybe you wonder whether the bridge of transition is really that necessary. I mean, really – who wouldn’t like a life with less chaos and change?! Let me just paint you a picture of what your life would be like WITHOUT transition…
The weather you see outside would be permanent. There would be no changing of leaves or blankets of freshly fallen snow. Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, and Christmas would all be celebrated in the exact same weather. Whatever fruits and vegetables are in season right now – that’s all you get from now on. No end-of-summer bounty from the garden, nor the fall harvest to make pumpkin bread.
That job you are doing right now – it will never change. There will be no new co-workers, no growing in your skill set, no advances in medicine or technology, no promotion to a challenging new position, no expansion into new territory. Don’t bother to set goals because goals will require change. Your company can never grow or shrink; things will stay exactly the same as they are today… forever.
Your current relationships will be cemented. You will never make a new friend or meet your soulmate. You will never release that unhealthy relationship that sucks you dry. Your sphere of counsel is confined to the exact group you have around you now – no adding new blood of any kind into your circle. And the relationships you have will never grow any deeper. No moving through the layers of trust to share with another the real person underneath. What you have now… that’s it.
Your kids would be permanently stuck at their current stage, no matter how good, bad or ugly. That toddler who is learning to assert herself will never learn that there are appropriate times and places for assertion. That teen whose hormones are going crazy – will never even out… ever. That adult child who just can’t seem to find his way, he will be wandering forever. No increasing independence. No moving from concrete to abstract thinking. No discovery of what they are meant to contribute to the world.
The current wounds of your heart will be sensitive and painful for the rest of your life. That deep ache that surfaces from feeling abandoned as a child that drives you towards addiction ? It’s always going to unconsciously control you. That place inside that is loaded with guilt and confusion from a broken relationship – it’s never going to be cleaned out. No healing of twisted perceptions or working through your guilt. It’s going to be raw and throbbing forever.
Your relationship with God would never change. That broken image where you see God as stingy and punishing – it’s permanent. That person you can’t forgive – imagine your heart bound to him/her by chains of unforgiveness for the rest of your life. There’s no exploring new ways to connect with God or to pray. No widening of your faith community or changing to a church that might align with your styles and preferences.
Yep, life without transition would mean a lot less mud and mess. Things would be neat and tidy. But it sure would be boring, because transition is the necessary bridge to the new – new relationships, new adventures, new life seasons.
Transition and change do not have to be our enemy; they are our messy, muddy pathway leading us to a life of health and growth. So put on some wellies and keep on slogging, because the mud will be worth it in the end!