Finding Refreshment During Transition

When I began preparing for my transition back to the States, I scheduled time to visit places in Ireland one last time and to meet with friends to say goodbye. My last weekend in country was spent at the home of close friends. Even though time alone makes me feel most refreshed, I knew part of caring for my soul during that time was saying goodbye well.

My alone time during those last days was spent packing and cleaning; however, I still found time to take a deep breath and enjoy the view from my apartment. And I made time for prayer and Bible reading, even in the middle of packing and goodbyes.

But then I arrived back in the United States. Suddenly I didn’t have a routine, I was living with other people, albeit family, again, and I had important details like a cell phone and a car to sort out. Caring for myself emotionally and spiritually fell to the bottom of the long list of things to accomplish, and by the end of two weeks at home I was emotionally and spiritually drained.

What was a priority when leaving wasn’t a priority when arriving. However, I knew I needed to find space for time alone, for quiet reflection on God’s Word, for focused times of prayer.

For some reason I assumed by simply scheduling a month for rest at the beginning of my time in the States that rest would actually occur. I was wrong.

So between errands with my sister and mom and phone calls with friends, I scheduled alone time. I turned down the radio and prayed as I drove thirty minutes to the Pacific Ocean. A morning away at the beach. Time to sit and relax while writing and drinking coffee. My heart and mind needed the soothing sound of the waves and the warmth of the sunshine in order to regain a sense of calm and balance.

Once I returned home a couple of hours later, I found the energy to accomplish the paperwork and emails that had been piling up. Mainly, however, my soul was refreshed. All of the upcoming changes, exciting and unknown, no longer felt overwhelming. Instead, life seemed more balanced, more manageable. The stressors still existed, but my ability to deal with them in a godly, rational manner increased.

Transition has brought with it a new set of challenges and adjustments, and the amount of time I have alone and my regular place to visit for a breather from life have changed. While in Ireland I scheduled regular time away at least once a month, and I am realizing that I will need to continue this practice. The demands of life don’t vanish when I exit baggage claim on US soil; if anything, they multiply.

Prioritizing time to refresh my heart and mind remains vital. For me this means spending time at the beach, taking a long walk or meandering through favorite stores by myself. For you it might mean catching up with a friend over coffee or joining a small group Bible study or taking a family vacation. My challenge to all of us who are currently experiencing or will soon be experiencing transition is this – at the beginning of your transition schedule time to care for your soul and keep scheduling it.

Maybe you can only carve out half an hour a week or a few hours every two weeks for this. That’s okay; simply give yourself permission to care for your soul in the midst of the chaos and demands that are transition.

What helps you refresh? How do you plan for times of transition?

11 Comments

  1. Elizabeth April 29, 2015

    I SO relate to struggling to plan time alone with God during transition. Not good at it on vacation or during furlough. I’m better at it when we’re at home and in a good bed-time routine (so I can wake up before my kids). I’ve got a special space in my living room at home, with big windows to welcome the sun. It’s awkward to find the private space in someone else’s house, or even when people are staying at OUR house. I need to figure out some workarounds for this during our upcoming home service, because I can’t go 3 months without God. I can’t let myself get as dry as I did on our last home service.

    1. Laura April 30, 2015

      Elizabeth, I’m the same way when it comes to being on vacation or somewhere new. I actually needed to hear my own words again this week since I’m still working at finding time for soul care in the midst of transition and change and paperwork and so on. 😉

  2. Ellie April 30, 2015

    “So between errands with my sister and mom and phone calls with friends, I scheduled alone time. I turned down the radio and prayed as I drove thirty minutes to the Pacific Ocean. A morning away at the beach. Time to sit and relax while writing and drinking coffee. My heart and mind needed the soothing sound of the waves and the warmth of the sunshine in order to regain a sense of calm and balance.”

    Hooray for this Laura!! And thank you for reminding me – I need this too – even though I’m not transitioning back to my passport culture.. I need the “me time” to deal with the other things, the outside time in nature.

  3. Laura April 30, 2015

    Ellie, I’m glad you appreciated the reminder.

  4. Sarah May 1, 2015

    This is so true!  The hardest piece of this for me is knowing how to express my needs in the midst of life when living in my passport country, so that I don’t get swallowed up in what others want from me or my child, and lose that precious time with the Father.  I too feel like my needs for extended time with God are vital, perhaps even more vital, than when I am abroad.  I long for those times to sit and receive direction, and simply be refreshed in God ‘s presence. Maybe somewhere I too have an expectation that this will somehow naturally “just happen” when I’m in my passport country.  Ha!   Sometimes I am astounded by the expectations I feel others have for me to enter into their world, participate in their activities, and frequently be on “showcase” without having any idea how deeply in need to drink from the Lord’s cup in order to fulfill my calling.  For me, my biggest challenge in being able to communicate “no, I can’t do that” in meaningful ways when others have no idea how much of the Lord’s strength it takes to process all the things we watch happen.  Our next home leave we are hopefully going to be staying in our own place and not living with family. Hopefully it will make this much easier so that I am not expected to make my or my families needs fit around our hosts’ needs.

    1. Laura May 1, 2015

      Sarah, I loved this “… when others have no idea how much of the Lord’s strength it takes to process all the things we watch happen.” Exactly! Thank you for sharing.

    2. Marie May 4, 2015

      Sarah, I love this comment of yours:

      Sometimes I am astounded by the expectations I feel others have for me to enter into their world, participate in their activities, and frequently be on “showcase” without having any idea how deeply in need to drink from the Lord’s cup in order to fulfill my calling.

      AMEN!

  5. Marie May 4, 2015

    Laura, I appreciate your story. I can relate … when we were still living in Denver, raising support and sharing the ministry vision with our hometown, I was able to take 4 hours every Fri afternoon for my personal time of soul care. My husband took the kids and I escaped to an empty house belonging to a dear friend … and I just sat and processed whatever it was that the Lord gave me to process at that time. It made such a big difference for my re-entry into my family “chaos” – for lack of a better description of the pre-field life, in the final months. Now that we’ve been on the field for almost 2 years, I MISS that Fri pm routine. Oh how we ALL have missed it! I’m a different wife & mom without it. So, last week, my husband began painting the extra room in our house which will now become my office (it has a door that I can close – HALLELUJAH!!!). I cannot wait to make it my haven within my home. =)

    1. Laura May 4, 2015

      Marie, I’m so glad you will have a place for your Friday routine! I too am a much different person when I don’t have the time or space for soul care.

  6. Monica F May 7, 2015

    Thanks for this wonderful reminder of soul care.  We’re going through another transition in our life right now… out of Sabbatical in the beautiful Sierra Nevadas to another part of the country where we will settle down for the next 1-2 years, before potentially going back overseas.  I have a strong desire to incorporate the ‘rest and soul care’ I’ve been able to do this year, into our next season of life and work.  Scheduling it and sticking to it is so important.  Appreciate your thoughts on this!

    1. Laura May 11, 2015

      Monica, praying you are able to incorporate rest and soul care into your next season of life!

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