I remember sitting in the breakfast lounge at the hotel, poking at my muffin. I don’t know why I picked it up and put it on my plate in the first place. My stomach was churning but not because I was hungry. Years of mental, physical, and spiritual preparation had now come to these last few hours. We were a hop and a skip from the airport. Our bags were packed. The time to move abroad was now. Who can eat a muffin at a time like that? Not me, apparently.
I watched my sister-in-law hold my 7-month-old son as they looked out the window, watching the planes take off and disappear into the clouds. I glanced over at my dad who sat quietly to himself. There wasn’t a whole lot of chatter amongst our family members. Everyone was preparing for the big transition ahead. This was no longer just a casual conversation over dinner. This was no longer just filling out forms and applications. This was it. Our family of three would be living on the complete opposite side of the world and we wouldn’t be coming back for another few years.
That was by far one of the biggest transitions we’ve experienced in the past three years, but it definitely wasn’t the only transition. There have been other ones sprinkled here and there:
Going from 100% fluent in a language to speaking like a toddler in another language.
Being a stay-at-home mom with a working husband to being a couple who stay at the house together most of the week while learning a new language.
Cooking with an electric stove to cooking with a gas stove. Anyone want a burnt pancake that’s still gooey in the middle?
Being a very involved person in the community to feeling like that strange, hermit person that always stays inside the house.
As if all of those transitions weren’t enough to keep me on my toes, there have been smaller (yet equally life-altering) transitions constantly happening with our children:
Sleeping through the night and then not sleeping through the night.
Just as I get settled into a routine, it changes. Just when I feel like I have a rhythm to my week, a different beat is thrown my way. Just as I’m about to plop myself down into the comfiness of knowing what should come next, it’s pulled out from beneath me.
It’s exhausting. I’d be lying to you if I said I always handled transition with grace, beauty, and maturity. Often times, transition looks sloppy and ugly and I stomp my feet in protest.
In a weird sort of way, saying “Send me, I’ll go,” was a lot easier to do when we transitioned from life in America to life abroad. Since landing in our host country, I’m a lot less willing to raise my hand and volunteer for change. My cry has become, “Send me Your plans and I’ll consider going.” It’s a request rooted in selfishness, doubt, fear, and disobedience.
Before moving overseas, someone said to me, “Blessed are the flexible, for they are not easily broken.” As much as I’d like to think my stubbornness will keep things the way I want them to be, the truth is, my stubbornness will only break me. It will leave me disappointed and constantly coveting the way things use to be.
Maybe He’s leading you to homeschool your children but you’re terrified of having the fate of your children’s education in your hands. Maybe He’s leading you to start a small group study with some locals but you can barely say, “How much are these bananas,” in the local language. Maybe He’s leading you to pass over a ministry to a local believer even though you still love leading it yourself. Maybe He’s leading you to move somewhere else overseas but the thought of uprooting yourself and learning a language all over again makes you want to crawl into a hole. Maybe He’s asking you to move back to your home country but you fear the reverse culture shock will never go away.
Open up your clenched fists clinging to something you don’t want to let go of. Relax the stiffness of your posture that’s strongly opposed to the unexpected change. Soften the hardness of your heart and hear His promises:
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
Find your dwelling place in Him. Find your happiness in Him. Find your comfort in Him. When transition comes and things change, you won’t feel dismayed or discouraged. Your spirit won’t be broken and crushed from grief. You’ll move forward with confidence and great expectations because the Lord is with you wherever you go and in Him there is fullness of joy.
He drew me closer to His side,
I sought His will to know,
And in that will I now abide,
Wherever He leads I’ll go.
— B.B. McKinney
What part of this spoke right to you?