In an age of public sharing, we see people lament life’s transitions. Moms post pictures of the moving boxes or the progression of their baby bumps with coordinated letter boards. They write about the sadness of the empty womb or express their struggle as they wait for a child’s diagnosis. We’re getting used to embracing the awkward and painful transitions of life by locking arms and coming alongside one another in the journey.
There is some good in this trend. Acknowledging and validating the messy seasons of life assures us we’re not alone. This gives us a sigh of relief. After all, Jesus wept with the hurting, cautious not to gloss over the hardship of struggle, pain, and death. But we have to wonder if positive affirmations and prompts to “look ahead” extend our gaze far enough for real hope.
I can relate to hard seasons of transition when our family size changes. When we had four kids three and under, one being a newborn, the days were incredibly long. One morning before church, my husband left early, leaving me at home with everyone else. I was determined to make food for a potluck we were attending after church. In a couple of hours, I needed to nurse, shower, change everyone’s clothes, and make a meal. There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. When we finally made it to the potluck, I was so tired and frazzled, I misstepped and dropped the meal before placing it on the table. Seeing the dish shatter into hundreds of shards of glass on the concrete was an embarrassing representation of my heart during our transition to a new normal. I was a big, hot mess going a hundred directions, unsure of my usefulness in such a pitiful state.
Transitions are like that. They can bring out the worst in us, depriving us of what we think we must have to be happy, comfortable, and thriving until our true nature is revealed. God shows us our impatient exasperation when our husband works late every night or travels for weeks on end. He shows us our fickle hearts when a chorus of commotion from our children sends us to seek refuge in social media.
When a goldsmith wants to purify gold, he heats it until the impurities are revealed so he can skim them off. Without the heat, the impurities stay embedded in the gold. Similarly, our circumstances turn up the heat until we see what’s in our hearts. It’s not that we used to be nice, energetic people, and now (due to this transition and things outside of our control) we’re suddenly irritable and unkind. Those changes simply expose the hidden sin that existed all along in the ease and familiarity of our old circumstances.
In the same way, God allows us to experience the pain, difficulty, and discomfort of transitional seasons so our faith is tested and purified because this results in eternal glory and praise for Christ. (1 Peter 1:7) The transition you just want to end isn’t a throwaway season—it’s a time full of God’s purposes, when hindsight will tell a story of sin and need driving us to the Father and making us love more like the Son.
A Better Thing to Look Forward To
We’re right to look forward to something better, but we’re often wrong about what that is. We don’t just need to hang on until the end of this transition— until we’re sleeping through the night again, until we’re more familiar with the school routine, or until we unpack our moving boxes. Rather, we need to hang on until we meet Jesus face to face, finding joy and purpose in the meantime. God doesn’t promise our current hard season or transition will end the way we want it to, but he does promise he’ll be with us all the way through it.
In my season of transition to more children, I needed a promise of spring. I needed to see the value in the season of transition, when God was shoveling, tilling, raking—messing up the hard soil of my heart. He was ready to plant new seeds of faith that could later produce a great harvest for the kingdom. He was not content to let the field of my life stay dormant.
The ultimate spring we all need to look forward to is the defrosting of Satan’s cold grip on this earth, when the full and final sunshine of God and the Lamb lights up the streets of the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:23) That’s the true end to this big, groaning transition we’re all in, and it’s the only thing we can count on.
Transitional seasons are part of life. We might not enjoy every aspect of them, but we don’t have to fear them. God loves us too much to let us be comfortable and unscathed. Adoption, infertility, job loss, sick family members, new careers, and new schools might feel like transitions we don’t want to bear. But let’s rejoice when we have moments of joy and rest, knowing that God has good purposes for today and a sure promise of our final destination.
Editor’s Note: This post is an adapted excerpt from Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope For Everyday Moments
About the Author:
Emily Jensen is the co-founder of Risen Motherhood and currently serves as the content director and co-host of the weekly podcast. Her first book, co-written with Laura Wifler, titled Risen Motherhood: Gospel Hope for Everyday Moments, releases September 2019. Emily, her husband, and her five children reside in central Iowa. You can join a wider community of moms looking to Christ on Instagram @risenmotherhood.