Seizing Moments of Transition

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” — Col 3.23

Everyone experiences transitions from one thing to another. We put down the old (or have it wrenched from us) and pick up the things. No one can live a completely sedentary life (nor would that be good for us). Whether it involves our jobs, homes, cars, stages of life, churches, or geography, we all encounter moments of transition.

While many transitions result in joy, not all are. Some transitions are sad, uncomfortable, or even depressing. Changing jobs, for instance, could indicate a step forward in a person’s career; it could also represent a changing career field that is now fraught with uncertainty. Other transitions are bittersweet; you are excited to move forward with a new opportunity, but recognize that somethings (and perhaps some people) will be left behind.

In fact, even the best transitions are often accompanied by feelings of anxiety and loss. Right now, as we transition from life and work at Rooftop Church to life and work at our church plant, Arise, my wife and I are reflecting on the bittersweet-nature of this transition. We are extremely excited for what stands ahead of us; but we also see some coming changes and know that things will not ever be quite the same moving forward.

But even in their discomfort or bittersweet-ness, moments of transition can stretch us, helping us grow and learn. It’s critical, therefore, that we seize the opportunities afforded us by these transitions.

Carpe Diem

How do we make the most of every opportunity? How do we seize moments of transition and use them to help us grow into the people God has made us to be? I don’t have any hard and fast answers. But I do have five practices that I have used in times of transition that may be beneficial for you as you tackle the changes ahead of you.

Begin with Prayer. Begin each day—or each moment, if necessary—in prayer to God. He will bring you grounding and peace amidst what may be a tumultuous time. Consistently communing with the Almighty through prayer, Scripture, and devotional reflection will help you begin each day with the most important part of your journey in mind.

Keep a Journal. Write down what you are thinking and experiencing. Journaling functions both as a means of processing what is going on in the moment and as a way to remember those experiences later on. Personally, some of the most valuable time I spent in moments of transition have turned out to be the reflective journaling that I have undertaken. Journaling helps process and it helps you remember for the future the lessons you learn through the transition.

Form Positive Habits. Use the transition to foster positive habits. This can be general lifestyle changes—eating better, exercising more, not spending as much time on your phone—or changes specific to your  situation—for instance, beginning each week at your new job with an evaluation of your weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. One of the families at our church, for example, uses the new school year as a time to take a close look at their calendar and family goals, adjusting things as necessary. This is also the thinking behind New Year’s Resolutions (which might serve as a reminder that all of these suggestions only help if you put them into practice).

Push Yourself. Moments of change and new experiences may be hard. But they may also be the perfect opportunity to test your limits. Muscle only builds when you push it to the limit and stretch the bounds of what you can do. Do not use the newness of things as an excuse to take things easy—aim high and capitalize on the new as an opportunity to become even better. Transition is tough–but that toughness is accompanied by the chance to do things otherwise.

Learn What You Can. Not every transition is to something complete unknown; but most of the time, transitions involve something beyond the realm of our experience. It’s useful, then, to use times of transition to learn. If you are in a new city, go exploring. If you have a new job, see what new skills or competencies you can acquire. If you find yourself experiencing new (or long-dormant) emotions, devote some time to prayer and self-reflection. Do not simply try to conform your new to your old; rather, lean into the discomfort of your transition and learn what it has to teach you.

Transition can be hard. But as we adapt to our new environments and situations, do not forget all the good that can result. As Sons and Daughters of the King, after all, we belong to the one who will says that He will make “all things new” during the final transition of creation into its restored state (Rev 21:5). Whatever our anxieties and insecurities, we can celebrate new things in our life in the light of the One who made all things and will make all things new.

On Beginning

Everyone experiences new things. By nature of who we are and the world in which we live, no one lives a completely sedentary life. From new jobs to new cars, from getting married to buying a house, from having kids to moving across town, we all encounter newness.

While many new experiences are joyful occasions, not all are. Sometimes new things are sad, uncomfortable, or even depressing. A new job, for instance, could indicate a step forward in a person’s career; it could also represent a changing career field that is now fraught with uncertainty. Likewise, a woman who has been married for fifty years experiences many new things after the death of her husband, few of which will bring her any joy.

Even when an experience is new and exciting, it can be accompanied by feelings of anxiety and loss. My first semester of college, for example, was a wonderful time, full of adventure, excitement, and opportunity. But it was still difficult to transition from the comfortability of home and the routines of high school that I knew so well. Yet even in their discomfort, new things can stretch us, helping us grow and learn not only about them but also about ourselves. Continue reading

Welcoming Bree

Hayley and I welcomed Bree Carolyn Prahlow into the world on Wednesday (8.10) around 6am. Though several weeks early, Bree weighed in at 6lbs 11oz and is doing great (as is mom)!

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After a couple of days in the hospital, we three hope to head home today. Thanks to everyone for the congratulations and encouragement. We are so blessed to have a healthy, happy daughter and are so looking forward to the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

~Jake and Hayley

Church Search Update

Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Long BeachIt’s been a while since our last Church Search post and people have been inquiring about where we stand in our search, so I thought I would take some time to offer e brief update this morning.

First, I want to thank everyone for your prayers as we wrestle with various issues, for your interest in our search, and for the stream of suggested books/blogs/churches to consider/places to visit. From the start of this process, we have sought “accountability” through sharing our experiences online, and it’s been very encouraging to have people checking in with us, especially on those days when we’re really not sure what the next step is going to be. Continue reading

Reflections Upon a Move

Out with the old...

Out with the old…

It’s that time of the year again: time for school to start again after a few glorious months of fun, relaxation, and vacation time. Or at least, that’s how it used to be. In recent years, summer has meant work, as in, “Time to make money so you don’t die during the school year.” In addition to work, however, two of my past three summers have involved some a bit more time consuming (and expensive) than taking a vacation: moving.

Two years ago I left home, along with my wife a few months, and deposited myself in Winston-Salem (NC) in order to pursue a master’s degree in religion at Wake Forest University. While experiencing several long-distance moves whilst younger, there’s nothing quite like loading all of your worldly possessions (or at least those you don’t leave in boxes in your parents’ basement) into a car and moving twelve hours away from what has been your life.

We learned lots during our time in Winston-Salem. There were good times and bad times, fun experiences along with heartache, moments of celebration and periods of uncertainty and pain. We made some great friends and grew closer to extended family during our time in the South, and (I believe) emerged better, more balanced people as a result of our two years in North Carolina. Yet all good things must come to an end, and it was truly with a mix of sadness and expectation that we loaded up our moving truck last week (with the help of my brother Sam) and trekked some twelve hours west to Saint Louis, Missouri.

Twelve hours gives one lots of time to talk, and Hayley and I reflected upon our time in Winston-Salem during many of those hours. It was sad to leave yes, less for the place than the people whom we had grown to love. Friends from work and school will be sorely missed, though Facebook and (hopeful) return visits help dampen such pain. Having been born in North Carolina, there are family connections that will be missed as well. We began our time in Winston with one wedding of Hayley’s cousins and departed mere hours after another wedding, two bookends to some great times with family. Winston-Salem was, in many ways, the ideal place for Hayley and I to begin our life together, and we are thankful for all of the memories that were forged there.

... In with the new.

… In with the new.

Twelve hours in a moving truck also gives one lots of time to think, at least when one’s wife is napping. Moving offers opportunities. Chances to start fresh, forge new habits, meet new people, experience things not possible at the old place, form new friendship, and learn new lessons about life. There’s something exciting about moving to a new city to start a five-year journey to a PhD, complete with all the reading and research. it entails It will also be nice to be much closer to our immediate families – five hours is very (very) different than twelve.

But moving is challenging too. You have to learn where the grocery store is, figure out the place with the least expensive gas, navigate new traffic patterns and rush hours, find new internet service providers which are a pain to deal with (or is that just me?), find a new church family, and form a new community of friends. New jobs must be secured, new habits formed, and new experiences had, all of which can be rather daunting.

We are glad to be in Saint Louis safely, and excited to see what God has in store for us hear over the next several years. Thank you for journeying along with us here at Pursuing Veritas.