The Process of Arriving

I was not as prepared as I thought for the process of moving my family from my passport country to the small nation of Iceland. The hardest part wasn’t necessarily the leaving or even the arrival. There was a measure of adrenaline, shock and maybe disbelief that cushioned the sharp edges of transition. Oh there were tears for sure, but the thoughts of what was to come were still tinged with a rosy glow as I looked to the future. Perhaps it’s been similar for you.

But then one day, maybe you are sitting in the quiet of your new home, gazing in confusion at unfamiliar streets or like me, in the aisle at your community grocery store, vision blurring as you try to make out the labels written in Icelandic. Hoping that what you buy doesn’t include ingredients your kids are allergic to. Praying that you don’t embarrass yourself by crying over seasoning. Surrounded by language you don’t fully know and people who don’t look like you. 

We have arrived. And it is harder than we comprehended it could be. The culmination of transition and arrival and the weight of purpose crash together into a new reality. We are no longer seen through the filter of our familiar surroundings and routine. We are now unbuffered, unfiltered and raw, exposed in ways we never expected.

These were my hard moments. Feeling so out of my element, grasping for trust and faith yet feeling as if I was failing to adapt. I was restless in my discomfort. Discouraged with not being able to grasp directions and language and even ministry as readily as I thought I would. I could not take pride in former abilities. Could not lean on certain skills and talents. Did not share history with people here and therefore did not feel truly known.

All I could do was lean back and trust that God had positioned me for a purpose in this new season. And although I was feeling the loss of being known as I was, I found that the Lord was forming me into the one He has always known me to be.

In the cusp of that season I wrote the words below to illustrate the struggle of my heart:.

But in transition, in the stepping into the new, the old you seems to die. Not that you were fake or hypocritical or as if the last part wasn’t even true. But now that you are in the new, you must come face to face with the part of you that maybe you never knew that well. Another layer closer to the core. More skin stripped off to expose authentic you to God’s awesome presence. To be exposed and naked and allow Him to empower you to feel no shame. To embrace your raw talents, gifting, and anointing, the raw and the real, the things even in need of repentance…the person and personality that he gave you unhindered and unfettered by people’s perception of you. Free to grieve, to breathe, to be…surrendered and submitted to the shaping of your clay form by his gentle creative hand.

It feels like death. And some days you are doubled over by the weight of it. But you are bent over not in isolation or loneliness, despite what the enemy of your soul would try to convince you. You are being bent and stretched and formed over and over, knead upon knead in the hand of your Father. Cupped and cultivated intimately, his breath on you always. Dying daily, moving from glory to glory, being perfected into the image that he already sees when he looks at you, not dimly, but full. Through the blood of his son Jesus. Fully his, fully loved, fully alive, fully known.

I hope that in all of our seasons of arriving, we find rest. That we choose to be patient with ourselves in the processes that are taking place within our transitions. Because although we have landed in a new country, place, role or season, it seems we are still arriving, still on the journey of formation. It is the tension between what is coming and what has now come.

It is the arrival that leads to this type of coming. It is hard, it can be scary, and it can cause tears to arise in the most random and inconvenient ways. But the willingness to enter into the wildernesses of our choice and obedience can deepen the roots that keep us planted in Christ. And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Isn’t this the place that we ultimately desire our lives to flow from?

So that when the nuances of our arrivals and departures and settling and moving get hard, we can be reminded that it is not us carrying the load alone, but the heaviest burden of all is carried by the One in whom we are truly, beautifully, authentically known. 

What has been the hardest part of your arrival into your new season, country, role? What beauty have you seen the Lord reveal through the hard places? How has it been a reminder of how intimately known you are?

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Photo by Mike Swigunski on Unsplash


  1. Linda K. Thomas June 14, 2020

    Excellent. I’ve experienced what you have and I appreciate you finding words to explain it. I, too, have found words and that process helps make sense of what happened and make peace with what happened. Thank you for your spiritual insights, too, and for sharing this all with us.

    1. Jenny June 15, 2020

      Yes! So thankful for the word that help us process!

  2. Michele June 15, 2020

    So beautifully said! I remember not long after my arrival in SE Asia I heard the Lord say, “Michele, I’ve brought you hear to die.” Ten years later I was invited to die again in a move to another country, and again in my third. This last one I came to seven and a half years ago, but it feels like I’ve barely ‘arrived’ and I was just reminded in my quiet time this morning that it’s really about dying to myself, so very thankful for your confirming words this afternoon!

    1. Jenny June 15, 2020

      That is so true. The continual process of dying never really ends. Thankful for the grace God gives in the midst and thankful for your own words of confirmation.

  3. Lily June 15, 2020

    “To be exposed and naked and allow Him to empower you to feel no shame.” This is really powerful… and seems like too good to be true at times. Praise God for the gospel which enables something like this!! I remember feeling so much shame my first year and then realizing what a joy it was that I was clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Never had I rejoiced in his righteousness like in that season! I could stand naked and unashamed because I was actually not quite naked but dressed and protected with his righteousness. Thank you so much for this!

    1. Jenny June 15, 2020

      Yes! So thankful for the vulnerability and intimacy that comes with our exposure but that he wraps us in new garments at the same time. Thank you for your words!

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