My oldest daughter visited earlier this week, so the two of us and my youngest daughter chatted in the family room under the largest fan you’ve ever seen, because September or not, it’s still oppressively hot in Arizona. Our conversation revolved around life and normal stuff, and then somehow, we got to talking about mental health and the darkness that sometimes appears and just how jarring it is when outside opinions attempt to wedge themselves into mental health management and dealings that are not their own responsibility. (Note: There are a million soapboxes on this topic – this space is not one of them. Do what is necessary for your health and don’t worry about the numerous outside opinions. That’s the long and short of it.)
My oldest said, very matter of fact, “The darkest time in my life was the summer after my freshman year.” I nodded because I remember. And then she said, “But that was the summer after our move to Arizona. I’m not blaming the move or saying we shouldn’t have moved, it was just a lot to figure out.”
I found those two sentences powerfully affirming, because: 1. as a mom, there is nothing more wonderful than knowing your child doesn’t blame you for the hardships of growing up – with or without an uprooting. 2. Being reminded that time, healing, and God’s grace can work a dark time into a two sentence summary is the picture of both hope and miracles (and I need that). 3. Change is hard. I need that reminder, too.
My family is elbows deep in transition. My second oldest has a new job. My son is employed for the first time. My youngest switched to online high school. My oldest daughter and son in law are expecting their first child. These are happy changes, changes each one chose, and it’s nice to be in the choosing position, but the ripples of change are still challenging to absorb. Not in a “this is impossible, I can’t do it” kind of way, but in a “wobbly, trying to regain my balance” kind of way. I’m absorbing these changes, too, amidst my own, amidst those of our ever-changing world. It can be a lot.
In my younger days, I rushed through change, dismissing the process rather than dealing with it and through it, scrambling for full competence, an uninterrupted plan, zero resistance, and zero visible exhaustion. I made busy days even busier. It didn’t go well. That’s not a pattern I want my children to follow, so in these times of transition, I’m keeping things simple with this approach:
- Acknowledge the transition. Change doesn’t always announce itself, you have to notice it. Maybe a caring person in your life points it out. Either way, acknowledge it – no dramatizing it, no minimizing it.
- Accept your humanness. You may be agile, but you are not impervious to the impacts of change. Your body will tell the truth, it’s just a matter of when. You can be proactive or reactive. Up to you.
- Adjust accordingly. My son put his early morning workout routine on pause while he learns how to balance work and school. He doesn’t like it, but he knows it’s necessary and temporary. I’m more committed than ever to time blocking and less resistant toward napping. We’re all figuring it out.
- Advocate for yourself. Like walking in the dark, you have to feel your way through transitions. If you’re lost, speak up. If it gets too dark, ask for help. (I’m still learning this one. Anyone else?)
- Appreciate the good. It’s the little things, isn’t it? It’s dinner as a family because we’re finally all home together. It’s a late night run to Dairy Queen because my son is working drive-thru. It’s a picture of my daughter’s homemade sushi roll, because one of the perks of online school is she can make and eat whatever she wants for lunch. It’s watching my daughter lean more into her own independence. It’s the text when my daughter, the soon-to-be mama, feels her first kick.
There’s another good I’m appreciating, too. My early morning prayer time dropped off over the summer, but I’m back into the practice of taking my coffee outside and settling in for unrushed prayer. If you find yourself in transition or uprooting right now, pray the 5 steps above in contemplative prayer before your day begins. Ask the Lord to impress one word on your heart as a continued focus for the day.
Praying peace for you this week.
*Know someone in transition? Send them the 5 step approach for moving through transition!