Having moved eight months ago (Can it be that long?), our family has dealt with many changes. As I have chronicled before (here, here, here, and here), everything seems like it has been in transition. Home, job, school, church, children’s marriages, and parental death are some of the major changes we have gone through.
However, it is not the big changes that trip you up as much as the thousand, smaller ones. Where do we keep the tape now? When the car tire needs repair, where do we go? What was the name of that family we just met in church? Is there a post office nearby? Where did I put that book? Why did they not collect the recycling this week? How long have we known about this school activity tonight? What is this light switch for? Where does Mom put this pan? How do we get to that town from here on these curvy roads? (Oh, for the straight roads of Indiana! North, south, east, and west mean little in hilly Western Pennsylvania. One of the main roads I travel to Pittsburgh on says “East” though more than twenty miles of it is running “South.” Likewise, from the north where I live you do not go “down” to Pittsburgh, but “up.” Why? Because it is “upstream” on the also curvy Ohio River.) Everything seems to take longer. We find ourselves these days more tired and less productive. Indeed, even my writing here has languished.
In these days where there is a psychological acronym for everything, perhaps we should call this “TWS” – Transition Weariness Syndrome.
Yet further reflection is needed. When you see the blessings the change has brought; when you laugh rather than get angry over a lost item; when you see the growth in your family that has come from the stretching, the weariness is overcome with appreciation and thanksgiving to God. At those moments, you then begin to see something even deeper, more profound. The idea that life before the move was transition-less was only an illusion. This whole life we have on God’s earth is one of learning to live with change.
Children should constantly remind us of this. How quickly they develop from one stage to the next! Of the young children you saw just a few months ago, the ones crawling are toddling, the toddlers are now runners, and the runners are now running off to school. Elementary kids turn into awkward teenagers seemingly overnight. Turn around once and gangly, crackly-voiced teenage boys have become strong, young men. Children are in constant flux, and do they not keep us that way as well? Miriam and I have moved far too rapidly, it seems, from beaming new parents to sleep-deprived herders of young children to wisdom-challenged counselors of teenagers to “we-can’t-believe-we’re-that-old” grandparents.
Certainly all around us change comes at us at warp speed. The transformations in technology happen so quickly they make you hesitate to buy a device or an app, wondering if it will be outdated all too soon. Our nation is fast becoming multicultural in every good and bad sense of that word. Employees find out quickly that job security is an oxymoron if there ever was one. Even our nation’s laws, which should be as it were written on stone, seem transitional and “rubberized” as they are stretched, bounced about, and shaped to fit the newest fads in the land.
All these things and more should remind us that our life here is far from static. Rather than seeing change as a stranger hitchhiking for a momentary part of the journey down life’s road, we should see it as a constant companion instructing us that we are always on a road. John Bunyan was getting at this when he says in the playful preface of his classic work Pilgrim’s Progress:
This Book will make a Traveller of thee,
If by its Counsel thou wilt ruled be;
It will direct thee to the Holy Land,
If thou wilt its directions understand.
Transitions are also seeking to “make a Traveller of thee,” as they constantly point you to the truth of the Scriptures which tell you that this life is a pilgrimage.
If only we acquire the wisdom, then, to remember in which direction they point us! As Psalm 84 says, “How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion!”
For a helpful, valuable resource related to this subject, see Rebecca VanDoodewaard’s book Uprooted.