Life Giving Transitions by Andrew and Leigh D'Amico
There is a reason a significant stage towards the end of childbirth is called transition. As the time for welcoming a new life draws closer, there is excitement and anticipation and trepidation and exceedingly intense pain. Transitions in life are like that - painful experiences that are inevitable, necessary, and part of the Father’s work of birthing new life in us.
2020 was a year of transitions for our family. Andrew retired from the Army and started a brand new career on the bottom rung of a different ladder. Leigh returned to the paid workforce after 18 years of full-time mothering and then completely changed industries 8 months later. We sent our oldest kid to college and our youngest kid to high school. And we did all of it amid a global pandemic. In this wild and crazy time, here’s what the Lord is teaching us.
Transitions are a normal part of life.
Some changes are bigger than others. Babies drop naps. Children grow up. Parents age. Marriages end. Work dynamics shift. Friends move. Favorite menu items disappear. Produce departments get rearranged. There are a million ways that life can feel destabilized. And while there may be periods of relative calm between the changes we encounter, the resting period always ends. We will never stop experiencing transitions so it’s worth learning to navigate them well.
Prepare for what you can predict.
Some transitions are predictable, and intentional preparation can minimize their negative impact. Knowing we could face a significant financial change in 2020 affected how aggressively we saved for college, how we purchased our home in Alabama, and how our kids did high school. We invested in additional education for both of us as we considered numerous second career options. We spent time fasting and praying and asking the Lord to help us see clearly. This all began years before Andrew actually decided to retire from the Army, and the preparation positioned us to transition well.
Build margin to absorb the unpredictable.
If there’s any lesson 2020 taught all of us, it’s that not everything can be predicted. Building margin into your life gives you a buffer to weather the unpredictable. Living on less than your current income and avoiding debt builds financial margin. Keeping white space in your calendar and protecting times of Sabbath rest builds time margin. Intentional time with your spouse and children builds relationship margin to walk through changes together. Margins in all areas of life posture you in a wide stance so you don’t get knocked over when the unexpected transitions hit.
Allow yourself to grieve what is ending.
Even when you’re looking forward to new things ahead, it’s normal and healthy to grieve what you’re leaving behind. Put that waterproof mascara to the test as you pack away uniforms and fill boxes with dorm necessities. Allow yourself to experience grief and loss. The tension between sadness and hope is a holy space. Stay there as long as necessary.
Don’t waste your transitions.
Seasons of uncertainty can open our eyes to sinful patterns in our lives. We may recognize fear or pride or envy or a need to control. Any time we become aware of sin and have an opportunity to repent and cling to the Gospel, the Spirit is offering a precious gift that we must not squander.
Shifting circumstances often leave us feeling tossed about and uncertain. In the midst of those emotions, we must remember that our security is found not in our circumstances (since even the most outwardly stable are ultimately temporary) but in the completed work of Christ. We must remind ourselves of the truth of the Gospel so clearly and beautifully summarized by Peter -
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-7, ESV
Our good Father uses times of transition to birth new life in us as we repent of sin, trust in the saving work of the Gospel, and look forward to the New Creation. Don’t waste these “various trials” and miss out on the opportunity to offer “praise and glory and honor” as Jesus reveals himself to you in the very midst of life’s transitions.
Andrew is a retired Army officer and financial planner who is always eager to talk about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Leigh spent the Army years raising and home-educating kids and now works as an analyst for a major defense contractor. They have three teenagers and love living in Huntsville, AL.