Transition: Are We There Yet?

showers of blessings

I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing. Exekiel 34:26

The wife of one of my long-ago pastors told a story about her rude and cranky neighbor. After a run-in with this neighbor, she reported being shocked at what had poured out of her mouth, finishing up her story with these wise words: You don’t know what is in your bucket until someone kicks it over.

Transition is good at bucket kicking. That in-between stage of “one foot in what will be and the other stuck in what was” is a stressful place. Uncertainty, impatience and anxiety spills out of our inside bucket, sometimes in a flood; sometimes in a trickle, but out it comes during times of big change.

My mother passed away in September 2017. Being without a parent has been a difficult emotional transition for me. There is no way to describe it except to say it is a very odd and disconnected feeling.

Settling my mother’s estate has been a long and challenging process, requiring me to meet and interact with relatives, lawyers, stockbrokers, real estate agents, estate sales managers, auction house movers and so on. Then, when her house sold, the closing date kept shifting around. I felt like I was chasing a broken egg across the kitchen floor. All my prayer appointments became maybes. (Thank you to all those I pray with for their patient understanding). My settled, predictable life became very unsettled.

When my mother’s house finally closed, I grieved it, unexpectedly. I had no idea what that house meant to me until I walked through it one last time. This was the house where I had visited my mother for 30 years. The house she loved. The house she died in.

So what did Sam and I do in the midst of this life transition? We bought a house! A big beautiful, sadly neglected house that we could in no way afford unless it had been sadly neglected. And guess what? That closing date is shifting around! AND the sellers are in bankruptcy, which was NOT disclosed at the time we made our offer. So, we don’t know for sure when we will be moving or even if we will be moving. And there is an enormous amount of expensive work to do on our new house. What were we thinking?!?

So here I am suspended in transition, painting the windows of our current house, getting it ready to go on market. And like a tired cranky child riding in the backseat on a too-long road trip, I’m asking the Lord: Are we there yet?

Here is how I’m handling TOO MUCH transition. Heads up: it’s not pretty.

  1. Panda Fun got my take-out order wrong. I cried.
  2. Sam stepped in front of me to use the sink while I was cooking, I bit his head off. (Not as tasty as Panda Fun).
  3. I’m spending too much time on Facebook.
  4. I’m restless, unfocused and sleeping poorly.
  5. I’m worrying about the new house. Did we follow the Lord? Have we made a mistake? What were we thinking?!?
  6. I even caught myself watching a mental movie of the previous day’s social interactions while the devil provided a nasty commentary. I haven’t succumbed to that kind of self-hating nonsense in years.

What’s going on besides transition?

  1. The Devil. The enemy requires negative emotional energy (the dark stuff) in order to have any kind of power. He sees transition as an opportunity to amplify any fear of the new and unknown. Fear is negative emotional energy.
  2. Unresolved Historical Pain. Past issues stored in your bucket (the heart) surface during times of anxiety. That unresolved emotional pain mixes with, flavors and amplifies any present-day uncertainty.
  3. The Fall. We live in a fallen world. This means that we are surrounded by fallen people acting in fallen ways. They are afraid and uncertain, too. We feel their distress and add it to ours. Ugh.

Help! Is there help with transition?

  1. In the midst of my distress, the Lord posed a question. He said: “If you were in heaven and I gave you a challenge, like the one you are facing with your new sadly neglected house, would you be afraid?” I answered, “No. I would not be afraid because I would have all the resources of heaven to call upon to help me.” The Lord responded: “You have all the resources of heaven now. It just doesn’t feel like it because you are in the Fall.” I remind myself of this when I’m scared.
  2. It has helped to read the books of Proverbs and Psalms.
  3. Worship is helpful.
  4. If you have unresolved historical pain, work on it. If not, but the enemy is trying to take you back to resolved pain (what was happening to me), recognize what is going on and tell him to get lost.
  5. Sending my angels to bring in the help I need to accomplish the task at hand.
  6. Reciting the Lord’s attributes in my mind (so that I don’t give in to worry). He is kind; He is willing to help me; He is eager to guide and advise me; He wants to share His wisdom with me and so on.
  7. Remembering to be kind to myself, being my own best friend, the friend I always wished for has been helpful.

Let us pray together as we grow together, that our buckets will contain less and less of the nasty stuff and more and more of the good stuff. Because, while we are in this fallen world, our buckets will get kicked.

This time of big transition has been emotionally upsetting AND beautifully humbling. Any notion that I was a spiritual big shot full of faith and confidence is long gone. I still need a savior. And I have learned that when the challenge is big enough, what is in my bucket is going to spill out.

I bless your journey wherever you may be.

Hugs,
Susan
thepool@thepoolministries.org
205.556.4555
(Leave a message when you call).

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Freedom from Bitterness (excerpt)

Written September 2015

Here is an excerpt from a downloadable teaching available for purchase at http://www.thepoolministries.org.

The subject of bitterness has always troubled me because no one has ever defined it or explained it to me. Actually no one has ever tried to explain it to me. I have been taught to avoid bitterness; to not be bitter; to not let a root of bitterness grow up (???????) … whatever that means … and so on, but I have never had ANYONE teach me what bitterness is. So here is a taste of what the Lord showed me about bitterness. (I pestered and pestered Him until He told me).  🙂

Mara means bitter. (Naomi means my joy, by the way.) I looked up the meaning of Mara in the Hebrew and its literal meaning is a bitter taste ranging from disagreeable (the taste of a walnut shell) to poisonous or deadly (the taste of an elephant ear plant).  Applied to Naomi’s suffering I think it is safe to say that she was experiencing such extreme loss that recovery felt truly impossible.

I understand Naomi’s anger towards God. I have seen this tendency in myself, in other Christians and in non-Christians. It appears to be universal for people to blame someone when things go bad. And who better to blame than God who is omniscient and omnipotent? He could have stopped it from happening. Couldn’t He? We all think like this and it takes time working through difficult losses with the Lord to come to an understanding of sin, eternity and God’s plan for humanity. Certainly in the grip of a horribly devastating loss we tend to automatically rage at the Lord. I don’t think being angry at the human who has hurt us or even being angry at God, while we are working through our loss, results in bitterness. Bitterness sets in when we sink into resigned despair and accept that we will never recover from what that person/God did/allowed.

Picture a tree, its roots deeply planted in the soil of pervasive painful experience, the sturdy trunk wrapped around the belief that your life is ruined, and dangling from its far-reaching branches hatred, resentment, jealousy, cynicism, rage, judgmentalism, pride, hopelessness, depression, despair and unbelief. And probably other fruit I haven’t thought of yet. (The pride grows from our belief that we would NEVER treat anyone like God/person treated us. We are BETTER than them. Ha ha! Live long enough and you will see how true that is.) We will talk about the unbelief in a bit.

The complete article is available at http://www.thepoolministries.org. This is an excerpt. I am referring to Naomi in the book of Ruth.