Transitioning Well

FAQ’s are pretty normal these days. What’s interesting in this is that you can sometimes figure out what God is doing in a group of people by paying attention to their FAQ’s. Their (or our) questions will change from season to season, but that’s because God is doing new things in our lives that cause us to ask new questions.

Recently, I have heard a lot of people talking about transition. In fact, I think I’ve had three conversations in the past month or less that have all revolved around this topic and have ended in the same question: How do you transition well?

Well, fortunately (or unfortunately, I’m not sure), I might be somewhat of an expert on transitions. I graduated college seven years ago, got married six years ago, have had four children, moved six times, have had two internships and six different jobs, started two businesses, closed a business, helped start two non-profit organizations and plant a church, and in the midst of all that, have experienced the most radical changes in my belief system and rapid learning curve of any period in my life (whew!).

What has kept me sane and somehow productive in all that? It’s that God, in His mercy, taught me something very important near the beginning of these transitions that has become a foundational value for me, especially during times of transition. This value comes from Psalm 37:3-4, which says, “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Many people quote the second verse here, as I have myself, without understanding the context it comes from. It’s true that God intends to give us the desires of our heart when we delight in Him, and this is what that looks like in many of our lives: We seek the Lord and internally commit our lives to Him. Then, we ask for things we desire, whether a spouse, job, career, children, or any other thing that’s dear to our hearts. He sees our heart to follow Him, so He begins to lead us. Following His lead means that we enter a season of transition—we are going from one thing into another.

Here’s the next logical step that most of us take: We leave our current place and find someplace new that makes more sense to us according to how we believe God is leading us. This transition now has made us cut relationships, or at least put unintentional strain on them, which means starting over with new ones. It has meant some degree of uprooting and a need to put down roots in a new place. And, invariably, this new place is one of hope, because we are certain that we are closer to the desires of our heart. Sometimes this may be the case, but I think that most of the time, if we’ve done this, we’ve actually missed an important key.

The key is found in the context, where we find that David tells us to trust God, do good, dwell in the land, and befriend faithfulness. Looking even broader at verses 1-9, we find other instructions like, “Commit,” “Be still,” “Wait patiently,” and “Wait for the Lord.” We see that David is talking about when circumstances are evil, when we are surrounded by things or people we don’t like (or who don’t like us), when we would like to do nothing more than ditch and run, that this is the answer: Be faithful. Stay put. Let your roots grow deeper. Fix your trust in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.

So, really, the question of how to transition well has an oxymoronic answer. To transition well you almost always stay put. But don’t miss the point—you are cultivating faithfulness. Those relationships you have might be shallow now, but befriend faithfulness and watch them grow. And remember that you’re not just standing pat on your circumstances; while you wait for the Lord, you are doing good.

Doing good cannot be done in a vacuum; you have to interact with people to do good. Doing good will win you favor in your relationships and lead you to embrace the character you will need once God gives you the desires of your heart.

Are you in a time of transition right now? Welcome to the club. What that means for most of us is that we need to befriend faithfulness and intentionally do good to one another, all the while trusting God, delighting in Him, and waiting patiently for Him to give us the desires of our hearts.