Transition is a passing from one condition, or place, to another. The thesaurus uses graduation as a synonym. It’s a momentous occasion, a time of great change in life. Adolescence certainly qualifies as a transition. So does menopause. That first year or two of married life, or life outside your parents’ household, is a transition.
The word strikes fear in the heart of a pregnant woman. In terms of childbirth, transition is the intense period between full dilation of the cervix and “pushing” the baby down the birth canal.
When I was pregnant with my first child, my childbirth instructor described transition as that phase of labor when the uterus contracts with more pounds of pressure per square inch than a fully inflated tractor tire. She was probably right, but I wasn’t thinking about tractor tires when transition struck. I thought I was going to die, coupled with an unbelievable need to pee. There’s nothing quite as distressing as thinking you might die while sitting on the toilet. How humiliating. Fortunately, I didn’t die, and I didn’t end up on one of those Discovery channel shows about women who deliver their babies in toilets.
After my kids were born, I foolishly believed I was through with transition. Oh, how wrong I was.
My oldest son was graduated from homeschool on Sunday, May 30. He’ll be 18 in October (legally an adult), but in reality, he has already crossed that line. And so I endure another transition (as if forcing his 7 pound, 15 ounce body from my womb wasn’t enough) as we release him from the safe harbor and controlled environment of HOME into the big, scary world.
Parenting isn’t the only source of life transition. Marriage, divorce, death, job change, natural disaster, traumatic illness, the loss of a parent or spouse or child, marked weight gain or loss, quitting smoking, changing churches, moving … even a dramatic haircut can trigger the discomfort of transition emotionally, physically, even spiritually.
They warn you in childbirth classes that a woman in transition “is not herself.” A normally shy, quiet woman might scream or curse; an extroverted, bold woman might weep and retreat into herself. Husband/coaches are warned that she might start to cast blame for her discomfort, complete with name-calling and the occasional physical outburst. One woman I know kicked her doctor in the face (on purpose) when he attempted to examine her during transition.
Irritability, frustration, impatience, resistance to accept help or comfort, rapid changes in mood, the sense of being almost out of control — these are common signs of transition, whether during childbirth or a big career move.
As a nation, we’re in transition.
The Body of Christ is in transition.
Most of us, because of circumstances beyond our control, are in some kind of transition, whether physical, political, financial, or otherwise.
So how are we supposed to cope with the transitions of life?
1. Stay focused – on something besides your discomfort! The Bible says we’re to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus. Focus on something outside yourself.
2. Keep breathing. It sounds simple, but when was the last time YOU took a deep, cleansing breath? There’s supposedly a type of Lamaze breathing for transition. I forgot what it was until my oldest was driving with a permit. (Hee-hee-hee-hoooooo breathing.) Whatever kind of breathing – natural and spiritual – keeps you centered and aware of your focus, go for it.
3. This may be the most important: THIS TOO SHALL PASS. Painful and uncomfortable as they are, those periods of transition in our lives are mercifully brief in the overall scheme of things. And once you’ve passed through, you have a new life to enjoy that makes it all worthwhile. There IS something to look forward to on the other side!
Are you in a transition of some kind? What’s helping you deal with it?