Monday, February 20, 2017

Seasons of Transition, and Joy in the Anchors

Seasons of transition can be hard.

I think in my own life, they've had a tendency to be the 'troubling, rattling, difficult, fearful, emotionally trying' kind of hard. In my younger life and my early twenties, I don't remember being great with change. 

That was for a number of reasons relating to both nature and nurture, but I remember transitions feeling like scary things for which I generally felt ill-prepared, nervous, and under-confident. Certainly, when I was younger, safety was more appealing. 

But growth in personal security, confidence, God, myself, and my ability to expand and cope emotionally with an ever-changing world- and my circumstances and opportunities in it- have changed that a lot in recent years. With maturity comes a lot of good, useful growth, and I am amazed now how looking back over the past decade of life is, in many ways, looking back at another lifetime altogether, one where the change I eagerly welcome now wasn't as appealing back then.
As I've gotten older, the combination of accepting change as a constant (not always easy), going out on more limbs (trying new things), and trusting (trusting, trusting, trusting- which means not always trying to control) has made seasons of transitions- though still scary- actually very welcome, exciting, and expectant. 

I've also learned that it's my responsibility to participate in my life, to do things that ground, anchor, and grow. I think our spirits need to cultivate intention and action to be forward-moving and productive; life isn't meant to be cyclical, dead-ending, and unfulfilling, and I think our universal search for meaning, purpose, and joy indicates that very much. We sense  we're meant to travel boldly through  life with the hope that good is both ahead, and within. But it's a boldness that doesn't come without diligent, thoughtful seeking, then finding, then maintaining. 

There are certain things I've learned to hold onto in times of change, for sure, that have made the propulsion into the new and unknown much less terrifying. All kinds of things- from making art; to practicing yoga; to resting in who God is, and who He has called me to be, by being guided by reading Scripture and the counsel of encouraging people; to running; to pursuing my goals and passions... there are all kinds of things on levels both small and spiritual that we integrate into who we are that help (and are necessary) when moving with peace through life.

Seasons of transition, I've noticed, are also a great way to test who we are. Consistency of behavior, personhood, conduct, character, and the pursuit of personal goals are a good way to see if, when everything changes (as everything inevitably does), we can always go back to ourselves in the midst.
Little things help me: like blogging, even. Just making time to journal, reflect, and record experiences can be really beneficial. Sharing processes like art, creativity, life, and adventure brings me both peace and joy. It's important for me to sit down and write, both here and in a journal; it almost serves as a means of 'checking in' on my own life. Many personal insights also come simply from the act of processing: writing, painting, exploring, observing. There's wisdom to be found in spending time being quiet, and listening. 

There's also something about the consistent practice of something- be it writing, excising; going for a run, joining a yoga studio; sitting down to paint, wherever I am; sketching; reading Scripture, reading a novel... when life is up in the air, in ways turbulent or simply just transitional, as it is right now for me, authentic anchors- things we love, that bring us joy and keep the story of our life moving forward- are important. 

Life isn't all what we do (I think joy comes more from who we are, from being, not just doing), but what we do is reflective, certainly, of who we are. What we make time tells others what we value. Where our focus is determines what we ultimately want from life. If I know writing, painting, exploring, growing my business, etc. are things that are personally important to me, those things will naturally appear in my life only if I give them time and love.

One thing that faith has helped me understand is that the fruit that comes from our life is the natural result not of 'trying' or forcing or willing things to happen, but the natural result of seeking and pursing (and be patient while waiting for) particular things. 
If we pursue- go after, make time for- things that are true, invigorating, joy-inducing, healthy, and heartfelt, we will have an inner sense of joy from which a positive, productive life will naturally flow. It's not about going after a positive life, but about planting and cultivating the mentality- and love for and focus on the right things- that automatically leads us to it.

These are just some things I'm learning. Life changes all the time, not just in terms of place of living (which mine has, several times, in the past 12 months), but in terms of so many other emotional, mental, and more internal, abstract, more subtle factors. It's easy to avoid change or decision-making because we feel unfit or under-confident about our ability to 'do the best thing-' but life is not rewarding without change, risk, or uncertainty. 

There's so much we cannot know about 'the future' or 'what will happen.' Putting one foot in front of the other, and taking life, very literally, day by day, is all we can do, and life becomes peaceful, productive, and fruitful when we do that with a sense of grounded-ness, intentionality, and a clear idea of what brings us joy. 

May we seek that clarity, and move through the world anchored in what is good, pure, and true. 


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