Helping Those in Transition

Helping Those in Transition

When I was trying to come up with a word to describe 2019 (which I never did), all I could think of was “transition”.  We are transitioning people on and off our team in the next month.  Our family is transitioning into a new season as our daughter weds in May. Our son started college in the fall.  Not to forget, I transitioned two new students into my school in January with another one starting tomorrow.  

Transitions freak me out.  I don’t like change.  In Central Asia, the transitions often brought out fear and tears.  Somehow this time is different.  The transitions are a good and natural changing of the guard.  I am also in a better place emotionally and spiritually.  Most of all, my role is different.  I am in a position to help those who are also transitioning to transition well.  

So how do I do that?  Here are a few ideas that I came up with but I would also love ideas of how you helped transition someone or something that helped you transition well.

1. Be a Tree Planted By the Water

Jeremiah writes

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.  For he will be like a tree planted by the water that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.

I don’t want to be just any tree.  I want to be a tree that is grounded in who God is and who He made me to be.  I want to be a tree that trusts in the Lord and not my own strength.  I want to provide a place of love and grace but also truth.   If I am not doing well, I will not have the capacity to help others do well.

A tree is available to provide shade and rest.  The tree in Jeremiah could even handle the drought- a time when things were hard.  Transition is hard and comes with lots of emotions.  I need to be willing to be there in the good, bad, and hopefully not ugly.  It is also great to remember to not take it personal if someone doesn’t like something.  The deep roots provide stability.  Trusting in the Lord means we are not in this alone.

2. Food!

Whether it is baked goods or a meal, food is always good.  It also gives you an excuse to check in and see how they are doing as you deliver the goodies.  Remember it doesn’t have to be fancy.  When I had kids in the house, I always invited people over on Taco Tuesday since it was so easy to just make extra.  Now I often invite people over on a soup night or when my husband is available to help with the cooking.  It is easy to make a double batch of muffins or bread and my husband always enjoys eating my baking now and then.

3.  Choices and Balance

This one is hard to explain and is not black and white.  Sometimes it is good to help, but sometimes it is good for a person in transition to figure out a few things for themselves.  It gives them confidence and helps them make their own way.  The challenge is knowing when to help and when to step back.  Another challenge is knowing when to be proactive with advice and when to wait until the subject comes up.  My rule of thumb is what would I have wanted to know before hand and what did I like figuring out on my own.  It is also a matter of figuring out the personality of those you are helping.

As to choices, it is good to give options.  As we have been in discussion with a new family coming, our conversations often include “we do it this way but another family does it another way”.  This way the new family can figure out what works for them and even maybe find another new way to do something.  For an example, what do people do for church?  Some have home church alone or with others.  Others go to a church in town that is more contemporary.  Still others go to a local church closer to where we live.  The key is figuring out what fits your family and what will help you serve the best long term.

What would you add to the list?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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      I've found that journaling and blogging have been important touchstones during times of change, grief, unsettledness. Being in community with other kindred souls is significant as well …

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