As I write this, I have no home. No door key, no mailing address, and definitely no clean clothes. Granted, this will change in a week, but I can’t help but think my homeless state is indicative of life right now.
Life right now: it’s a funny time. Most would call it a “transition period,” but I just want to call it awkward. Or achy, or uncomfortable, or uncertain. This season is a limbo between what was settled and what will be settled. I am waiting for pieces to drift into place, and am wondering how to thrive while still surrendering to the inevitable chaos of change.
One particular memory surfaces when I consider moving forward with uncertainty. On a sultry afternoon this summer, two friends and I played like children at the beach. We became adventurers, jumping off rocks, swimming in the blue, and finessing our way along cliffs to reach a hidden cove. As we picked our way barefoot along wet crags and clefts, I tried to look ahead. I wanted to plan my next move, of course – where I would place my feet and how we’d make it around the next corner before a break rolled in. But each time I took my eyes off the immediate present, I missed a step. There was no choice other than to keep my eyes trained on what was directly before me.
So I stopped straining to see ahead. I watched azure water and foam sweep over my feet, pulling back to strain rivulets across each rock. I was caught off guard by the intensity of my focus. How long had it been since I’d focused whole-mind whole-body on a single activity? I had been straining for months. A million things at once, always a phone in hand, always multiple conversations and threads of frantic thought. Always wanting it to be on to the next thing, on to the next stage. Yet while picking over the rocks, wincing at sharp edges and dancing to avoid incoming surges, I was purely and easily happy. For once, I wasn’t relying on a not-yet-attained future to determine my well-being.
Transitions are this way. Often all we want is to get out of them, and fast. We want to know what’s ahead, then grin-and-bear until it’s over. Yet the only remedy for a transition is living through it. Is it possible to thrive during seasons of uncertainty? I think so. Here are a few ideas for living well during an unsettled time:
1. Establish a routine. Since days feel especially topsy-turvy, maintaining healthy habits is essential for staying grounded. Exercise regularly. Eat well and at consistent hours. Make time for conversation, time to be quiet, and time to be filled through social or creative activities.
2. Remember it is temporary. All of life is a transition, of course, but this transitory period will pass. Knowing that the waiting period will end is hugely helpful in allowing yourself to enjoy today. And remember that the positive side affects of this transition won’t last forever, either. Lean into these gifts and remember how quickly seasons change.
3. Trust the refinement. Good character is formed from tougher times, out of life’s sinew. Transitions are uncomfortable, but how we choose to live them refines our character. Personally, I can tell you that I’m held in hands much larger, kinder, and more capable than my own. I believe that God’s got me, and that he is fashioning a better course than anything I could engineer. Transitions represent refinement, and trusting that your character will be polished by this period of in-between makes the journey easier.
In case you’re wondering about that beach day, we made it to the cove. With bruised soles, we rounded a corner wet and salty and arrived in a quiet inlet. Transitions are like that: you look up one day and things have settled. Softly, quietly, like snow sifting down while you were inside. It happens when you’re focused on what is directly in front of you. Until then, you are where you are and it is well. Attend to today, despite all its uncertainty, and live well during your time in transit.
Photo by Rebecca Wolseley