Treading Through Transition: What to Do in the "Hang Time"
Entering into a season of transition can feel something like a trapeze artist who just let go of the bar only to be flung at full speed into the air, uncertain of whether that next bar will show up before gravity has it's way and pulls you down to the ground face first. If are going through transition or have ever lived through one, you know what I am talking about.
But as the best trapeze artists say, successfully making it through that "hang time" is all about trust, timing and holding your position.
As a person who has been through several flying trapeze transitions in my twenty-something life, I must say, it's easier said than done! Sure it's all about trust and timing but what does one actually do during the hang time?
God has been teaching me a thing or two about this, about what we can hang on to during the so-called hang time period. I thought I would share a few of these insights with you:
Hang on...Despite the Discomfort. The first thing we want to do when we encounter a little discomfort or pain is give up. Somehow we have developed a low tolerance for pain and suffering in this world. We want to throw in the towel when the "going gets tough," assuming God is only in the "feel good" things. But the more I live through life, the more I am convinced that God isn't as much concerned with our comfort as He is our character. He calls us to live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), and sometimes this entails stepping out before we see what is ahead. Leaving a place of comfort and security for the unknown is never easy. But God promises that when we love Him through our obedience - even when it's difficult - He will be there with us (John 14:23). There may be discomfort for a while, but hang on tight, for you can bet He is producing the abundance of fruit in you that He so desires you to live with!
Hang on...to the Moment. When we enter into a transition, it seems the natural human response is: "What's Next?" But I've found that when I am focusing so much on what is next, I am missing out on what is happening now. So the question to ask ourselves and others who are in transition is not "What's next?" but "What's Now?" What is it you see in front of you right now? What work needs to be done right now? What relationships need to be nurtured right now? Who is God connecting you to right now? Trust that as you live fully in the present, in the right now, God will be the One to unravel and reveal the next step of your future!
Hang on...to God's Truth. When the hang time is getting kind of long, and we see no end in sight, it can be so tempting to let doubt and discouragement creep in. Trust me, I know! The second thoughts like, God has forgotten about me...Maybe I made the wrong decision...Can I trust God with my future?...we must speak against them in the name of Jesus because they are NOT from God. I repeat: They are not from God. Pull out your Bible and begin to let God's truth about who you are and who He is seep back into every fiber of your being--heart, mind, spirit, and soul. Remember, He who called you is faithful and He WILL do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Refuse to believe anything less!
Hang on...to a Mentor. Finding someone older, wiser, and more experienced in life whom you can trust and with whom you can share your life can be one of the biggest "life-lines" during a transition period. It has been for me. I talk on the phone every other week at a set time for one hour to my mentor. She has become a "safe haven" where I can share openly about what's going on in my life, be honest and transparent about any struggles I am going through, and ask for any advice on things I am unsure about. If you don't have such a person in your life, I highly recommend praying and asking God to show you who you might consider reaching out to and asking if he or she would be willing to mentor you during the "hang time" period and beyond if things go well. Don't delay!
Hang on...to Prayer. Jesus prayed fervently, consistently, and persistently no matter what He was facing in His life. If the Son of Man, how much more us? It is absolutely crucial to stay connected to God all the time, but especially during a transition time. When we are constantly staying connected to God by seeking His will through prayer, He will let us in on His plans for us and His kingdom. But we must do our part. This means quieting ourselves and listening so we may hear. During this particular "hang time," one thing I have enjoyed is kneeling at the foot of my bed each night to pray and listen to God. I have been so richly blessed by it that I honestly look forward to that time each night. I even keep a notebook beside me to write down things I am hearing the Spirit say. Try it; you might be surprised what our Father will share with you. The rewards for those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) are great!
Let's face it. Transitions are tough. They can be discouraging, deflating, and downright difficult. But they don't have to be. If we are to live by the Spirit, we must learn to endure times of transition, knowing that God has us there for a reason and only for a season. We must learn to remain in the hang time and not be in a hurry to get to the next thing, because you know what? It is likely that in place you are right now - in that hang time - God is preparing you, growing you, molding you, maturing you, and equipping you for the next thing, even when you don't yet know what it is.
What are YOU doing to hang on?
Leave a comment and share your thoughts!
Ali is the newest columnist for The Brink magazine. Check out her first column in the Spring 2012 issue of The Brink! You can find her other articles at http://www.thebrinkonline.com/articles/author/alismith or by visiting her website at www.alismithonline.com.