I dropped David off at school today. Summer is over. As of today, he is a fifth grader. I observed a bunch of parents at the other end of the school. The moms and dads dropping off their boys and girls to Kindergarten for the first time. Some of the kids didn’t want to let go of their parents. Some of the parents weren’t thrilled about letting go of their children. Life is different now.
I talked to some young adults leaving to college this week. I sensed simultaneous excitement and anxiety. I expected nothing else. I’ve been praying with a few of the parents who will be taking their children to college for the first time. They are both fulfilled and melancholy. Life is different now.
Transitions are a part of life. We go from healthy to sick, single to coupled, young to not-quite-so young, east to west, here to there. Quality and blessing in life isn’t about maintaining Utopia and avoiding the expected and unexpected transitions that will happen. Quality and blessing come from successfully dealing with transitions.
Here are four ways to help you navigate transitions:
- Celebrate and Reflect on Your Past
Practice gratitude. It changes everything. Be thankful for laughter and tears. Victories and failures. Intimacy and healing. For times of prosperity that created celebration and times of trials that created growth.
Reflection leads to learning and development. So reflect. Ask questions to yourself. What worked well? What didn’t work so well? What would I do again if I could? What has happened that is going to prepare me for this next chapter in my life?
- Accept Your New Normal
Don’t oppose an unavoidable change. Change happens. It’s hard to let go, especially of something good. Your desire to dwell in the past will prolong your pain and extend your adjustment period. Acceptance makes recovery, healing, and progress possible.
- Work Though Your Grief
You can deal with your grief or your grief can deal with you. It’s not easy. But the most rewarding things in life are not easy. Find somebody going through the same thing or somebody who has been through the same thing you are going through. Learn from them. Accept their support. Share your feelings with safe people who are good listeners. Express your grief. Cry, yell, listen to music, write, paint, or do whatever it is that will help you express your pain. It takes time to work through grief. Be patient. Keep persevering.
- Move Forward One Day at a Time
Don’t worry about tomorrow. Today’s trouble is enough for today. When you get overwhelmed, realize that you are only responsible for your next step—not the future of the entire world. Have courage and take that next step even though you probably don’t see your destination. Set small and attainable goals that will move you forward in the right direction. And enjoy the journey of healing or adapting or blossoming or whatever expedition you are taking.