Life: A Series of Transitions

I’m preparing a series of talks for an upcoming retreat on the topic of life transitions. I’ve been mulling this word–transitions–over in my head for the past month or so and two observations have consistently come to mind.

First, I don’t like transitions. In many ways the past three years of my life have been characterized by a series of three major life transitions that happened within the span of a year: adopting our son, buying our first home, and helping plant our church. Clearly these were all really important, good transitions, but I’d be fine with never again experiencing that much transition in such a short period of time.

Secondly, despite my allergy to them, transitions are normal. The word itself gives a sense of impermanence but life is really just a series of transitions, one after another. Accepting this is tough, especially within a cultural milieu built on moving past transitions. The reasons for this are fairly obvious: transitions are times of vulnerability and uncertainty, undesirable traits in a society that values strength, stability, and savvy. What passes for political discourse betrays these negative sentiments; our country is meant either to return to an idealized past or evolve to an enlightened future. In both cases the point is to arrive; transitions are to be transcended.

Christians, without downplaying their challenges, are those with the spiritual resources to acknowledge the persistence of transitions while also thriving in the midst of them. The transitions of career, family, and the many others brought on my opportunity and, more often, crisis are simply the stuff of life for the Christian. More accurately, the stuff of the abundant life promised by Jesus. We don’t wait to make it through the in-between times in order to live well; the good life, when defined differently than the American dream, is available now, regardless of which transition(s) we currently exist within.

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David Swanson
David Swanson is the pastor of New Community Covenant Church [Bronzeville] on Chicago's South Side. He blogs often and has authored countless articles for prominent Christian publications.