|Baby number five (Joey) and I in 2005.|
When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I attended Bradley Method birthing classes. Natural childbirth. No pain meds. We had been coached for months and prepared the best we could for labor. We had even prepared for the phase of labor when "you think you're gonna die" called transition. This is the phase right before you get to push: the peak of the birth pangs. After five births (three at home) and over six years to recover from my last birthing experience, the word transition still brings me a little flashback and I have to shake my head and marvel. Transition. Yep, ya think you're gonna die.
But you don't. Somehow you make it. Soon, there is a miracle in your arms and you forget the pain. Soon you're crying with joy instead of agony. Sometimes you just gotta HANG ON until it's time to push and then - sweet peace. A miracle. And that time before pushing? Forget the dignity, man. You're focused. You want relief. You'll ask ANYONE for help. My mom used to joke that while she was having babies in the hospital, the door could have been wide open and the janitor could have walked by and she wouldn't have cared. Forget the modesty. I WANT THIS PAIN TO BE OVER! That is the common attitude of "transition".
No, I'm not pregnant. But somehow that word has been popping up a lot lately. I've heard it in the news. First I witnessed Maria Shriver asking for counsel during her painful time of "transition", I read an article about Billy Graham entering his "twilight" season of life and being referred to as being in a time of "transition", and then there was Cher's former daughter, now son, Chaz, promoting "his" book, "Transition". You cannot attend a graduation without hearing the word in someone's speech. And finally, today, I heard it in church as we prepare to place a new brother in the position of Elder. We are to pray for a smooth "transition".
When I sought this word in the dictionary, its meaning was far less loaded than the one it holds for me - far less painful. It simply means a great change. I suppose most people believe the nature of the change and its magnitude affects the level of pain involved, but I'd like to share a secret with you about that pain and how to reduce it. Personally, my family has been joyfully recuperating from a time of transition.
Since my last entry in October, we lost our home to foreclosure after trying everything we could to save it. My husband had lost his job and though he found another one shortly thereafter and received a promotion within months, the raise would not materialize for another six months and by then it was too late. We prayed and prayed and prayed - but it became clear that the Lord was moving us without delay. Losing your home can be miserable enough - but MOVING - Sista, don't get me stahhhted.....
I have two terms I use for the little random thingies you find under cushions, along walls and under beds. If I'm uh, irritable (rare indeed), I refer to them as "lil' cruddies". I might use this term while I am whittling an impaled Lego out of the arch of my foot, "No, this room is NOT clean. Pah-leese get the Lil' cruddies OFF OF THE FLOOR!" There are other times, however, I refer to these tiny mementos with affection. Then they become "lil' froo froos". I might use this term when a good child has been working very hard, but I would like that one last detail. "Sweetheart, would you mind vacuuming up the lil' froo froos along the walls of your room?" Transition often reveals cruddies you never knew you had: big, ugly, mutated cruddies.
My husband had to build a new chicken coop for our neighbors so they could adopt our twelve chickens, our other neighbor took two of our dogs, and I was overwhelmed by the accumulated STUFF in our unfinished upstairs. The cruddies had been secretly breeding..........Ya just wanna cry. Yes, it was unpleasant. But strangely enough, it wasn't that bad.
Our new church family moved us out and into storage within a weekend. I had packed and cleaned and labeled. I had vacummed every possible cruddy from under and behind every piece of furniture to prevent further humiliation. After all the furniture had been moved out, I could see a DIRT RING encircling my livingroom walls where furniture used to rest. My carpet was outlined with a lighter shade where it had been dutifully protected by couches. Oh, the horror for a neat freak like me. Yet, it still wasn't that bad. Scott and I have a wacky sense of humor, but it was more than that. We were trusting Him. That is the secret. And that is why we saw Him move in quite an amazing way.
Through noble and faithful brethren, the Lord provided a home for us five minutes from our church in a fabulous neighborhood with an additional 1000 square feet of space and alas, finally, a two car garage. I now have the hardwood floors I'd always dreamed of and a fireplace. The den (uh, I call it a familyroom) is gi-normous. We are in a neighborhood with paved driveways and sidewalks and I can drive to the grocery store without packing a lunch. WE ARE SO HAPPY HERE.
We are still amazed at what the Lord did for us. We originally resisted and fought through the transition He had ordained. But once we recognized Him as the mover, we dutifully surrendered. I state this not to pat ourselves on the back, but to encourage you. Now we shake our heads and laugh and marvel at His plan. Wow, it truly WAS to prosper us and not to harm us! Didn't we already know this? Not always. In the past, I used to dissect myself when bad things would happen. "I must be getting JUDGED. I am such a horrible sinner that God is taking (fill in the blank) away. God is PUNISHING me. But what exactly have I done?" Ah, the little cruddies that lurked within me and revealed my perception about God! And so part of my pain was chasing my tail until I'd carved a nice pit for myself. By assuming my Heavenly Father was always judging me, I, in reality, was actually judging (and greatly underestimating) Him. I imagined all these cruddies that I must be getting punished for (I am a poor steward because I haven't clipped coupons in two weeks. This must be because I splurged and bought that frappuccino.....). Those are the froo froos with God. The crud is the lack of trust. I've discovered that is one of the things that really grieves Him. That discovery occurred because of my experiences with Him during transition. I rejoice not in my victory - but in His. He is the Author of my faith. Thank You, Dear Lord, for Spiritual progress.
We try to prepare for testing and trusting when it's tough, but it's just like those birthing classes. You convince yourself, I can do this! I'm ready! Bring it on! And then those birth pains bring you to your knees and you cry, "Get this baby OUT!" You forget the pride. You are humbled and in the dust. You ask for help and meekly accept it knowing that you'll NEVER be able to pay everyone back for being so wonderful. My advice? Let the Lord have His way. Our Lord was homeless and broken and suffered utter humiliation and agony. We are to taste it now and then as well. He tears down those walls and whistles for His church to put you back together because He wants a FAMILY. And family is very real.
Ah, the sweet moment of miracle. You hold it in your arms and rest for a little while. You recuperate and delight in what the Lord has brought forth. Hang in there, Friend. Get ready to push and keep your eyes on the joy set before you. How do you handle transition? Draw very very close to the One Who can truly bring you through it. The more you trust, the less it hurts. The more you humble yourself, the faster the rescue. Our transition sounds bad in writing. We lost our house. But the truth is that it really wasn't that bad. We trusted Him this time. There is power and favor there.
Are you in sin? Have you been ignoring the Lord? Do you even KNOW Christ? Well, then you may very well be getting judged. On the other hand, if you are abiding in Him and doing your best, then it is very likely that the Lord is redirecting you as a loving Father and seeks to prosper you and not to harm you.
Transition. Birth pangs. Jesus told us the entire WORLD was going to experience them (Matthew 24). The Mommas know. The pangs get worse. They get closer together. The Lord is birthing a KINGDOM. That's a big baby. If you aren't building on the Rock, you won't be "thinking you're gonna die" - you eventually, eternally, will. As for my dearly loved brethren, keep your suffering in perspective and allow it to equip you for the days to come. The time is coming when the church will be the midwife and not the patient. If you're not His, you'd better get right. If you are - trust Him.