I do not like rollercoasters. Not at all. I’m the person who will stand at the bottom and hold everyone’s bags, glasses, etc. Granted, there are times I choose to get on the rollercoaster anyway (strictly metaphorically speaking!). I decide that a move to a new city and new job and all that entails are worth the inevitable rollercoaster ride of transition. And then there are times when life puts you on the rollercoaster. This past year was an example of that in my life…
I knew it was coming. I knew some dear friends and colleagues would be moving away. Then another family announced they would be leaving. We had a large team of interns, all coming to the end of their time with us. The rollercoaster was speeding up and adding more twists and turns. We saw some people off at the airport, with lots of hugs and tears. Then came that day last June, when I said goodbye to 17 dear, dear people all in one go. I was leaving town the next day and by the time I got back, they’d all be gone. I was a mess!
Still, it didn’t really hit me until the September. People often leave during the summer but come September, they’re back. Only this time, they weren’t. It was like I’d been standing next to the rollercoaster for a couple of months, still feeling the rush of air as the cars went past. Now I was back on it, with all the emotion that comes with that. And it just kept going: more changes, more transitions. Good ones, mostly, with new people joining the team, and a precious little baby boy for my dear friends and team leaders. But still, change after change after change.
As the weeks and months have gone past, the rollercoaster has slowed down. The landscape has changed, there is a new normal in my Berlin life. I miss my friends dearly. There is uncertainty but also hope and new opportunities.
For some, this will seem normal and what life overseas has always been like. Not for me, though. Not in all my years living cross-culturally, not in the time I’ve been back in my passport country. Not until this past summer.
I had to learn how to navigate a season of staying that was very much a time of transition. It took me a while to even recognise it as such, to recognise what I was experiencing as symptoms of being in transition. Yet they were pretty textbook.
Emotions all over the place – check.
That strange mix of grieving the season that had ended yet also being excited for new opportunities – check.
Feeling more tired than I should have been – check.
Thoughts and attitudes rising to the top in my heart that I wasn’t proud of and that in a more settled season, I’d been able to ignore – check.
Acknowledging that I was a “stayer going through transition” was such a relief. A burden lifted.
I was free to accept and admit that I had less energy than at other times, and to say no to a few things.
I’ve never been much of a journaler, but in this season I’ve poured out my heart to the Lord in this way. Lamenting, confessing, rejoicing over grace and forgiveness, untangling some of the strands of what was going on in my heart and life. And in the process, starting to move forward, into a new season.
Funny how it goes sometimes. I wasn’t expecting to have my own, fresh story of transition to share when talking to some newbies this summer. After all, I was just staying, right?!
What about you? Do you experience a lot of transition even when you’re staying? What have you found helpful in this situation?