By Heidi Goehmann
Life is full of transitions.
We are born. We learn to talk and ask for things ourselves. We become more independent. We begin schooling. We transition to looking and acting more adult-like. We move away from home. We begin a career, a marriage, or both. We might move. We may have our own kids. We transition through their transitions. We age. We retire.
And the transitions just keep coming.
Transitions impact all of us, even when we don’t fully recognize they are happening.
My 12-year-old son grew 6 inches in the last three months.
Before I knew it, he was taller than I am, and I wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact this had on me as a mom.
His transition became my own transition. So goes family life.
Most transitions are blessings of growth and opportunity. Some transitions are harder to see the blessings in — the loss of someone we love, moving away from family and friends, or changing jobs in the middle of an already busy season.
Love them or hate them, transitions are here to stay. Or, rather, happen.
We can no more stop life’s transitions from coming at us as we can stop the clock of time and the change of the seasons.
Church work life is no less full of them than other vocations.
Some would argue that the abundance of transitions in church work life can make it more stressful as a vocation choice.
And many transitions associated with church work can have a huge impact on the church work marriage and family.
How do we transition well and build up our marriages in the process?
Primarily, recognize and talk about the transitions.
Church work marriages are full of some very specific transitions on top of the family life cycle, starting with making the decision to pursue church work.
Other transitions include moving to seminary or college, moving around during seminary, taking a call, moving away from family, taking another call, becoming active members in a new local congregation, losing members you care about deeply, changes in pay and benefits, managing church and family life, possibly moving from congregation to institutional service, retiring from congregational leadership, etc., etc.
I’m sure you can think of many more.
How many of these transitions have impacted your marriage or family? It is helpful to recognize transitions that we have gone through, are currently happening in our lives, as well as those we have concern for in the future.
There is no need to fret on them, but marriage and family gives us a safe place to be open about the impact they are having on us individually and as a family.
As spouses and parents we can build one another up by bringing them to the surface, discussing them together, and sharing the burden, instead of having the stress of it eat at us internally.
God’s Holy Spirit works in marriage to give us a place to share and grow through the transitions.
One of the greatest parts of marriage is having another lens in which to see the world up close. We can find refuge in one another by sharing our concerns and our struggles with no need to “fix” it.
Your spouse likely can identify the joys of a transition that you wouldn’t have seen from only one perspective.
The purpose of the Body of Christ is alive and well in our marriages when we lift up one another, help hold the weight of the burden, offer opportunities to talk around the Word and grow together, and turn with one another in prayer to our Father who guides us through every step of the journey.
Here are some possible questions to ask yourself, your spouse, or your children to open conversation and lead one another to prayer and Scripture through church work transitions:
- What transitions do you recall as the most stressful or the hardest for you in our journey so far?
- What transitions are you most concerned about for the future?
- What’s the best way we can support and care for each other through changes and transitions in our life together?
- What does God’s Word have to say about changes in life?
- What would you like to pray about in this transition?
Transitions are hard for kids and for adults. It’s just a part of life. But we have a steadfast God with a steadfast love and rock-solid presence.
He guides and leads us through in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ our Lord. We can rest in His faithfulness in our marriages and families and then go out into life and embrace the adventure that He holds for each and everyone of us in this life together.