Transitions happen all the time. We move from one activity to the next all day, no matter how many activities there are. There are planned transitions, and unplanned ones from those we call interruptions (because they aren’t on our carefully made to-do lists), and there are unplanned transitions we could call surprises or consequences that can even monumentally alter the course of life. Of course, there’s a complete range in between.
Some folks do transitions well (in fact, I even know some people who thrive on change and look to create it wherever and whenever they can – it’s both cool and a little disconcerting!). Some people don’t like change but handle it, some just aren’t able to accept unplanned change at all. Most people have been in the ‘done well’ and ‘done alright’ categories at one point or another, with a couple of tough changes thrown in for truly tragic circumstances. Then, there are folks who consistently handle changes poorly, offering arguments, resistance, rage, the silent treatment, and hold grudges toward whomever they can find to blame the reasons for change upon. This latter category of folks miss out on a lot of good in life, a lot of the good that comes from change, a lot of the joy of the life adventure.
Fearing or rejecting change, fighting it and harboring bitterness toward those who are also experiencing (or accepting, or enacting) another aspect of the same change is at best a deterrent to spiritual growth, and at worst a deadly spiritual poison. It affects every aspect of a person, including relationships, emotional health and can even have physical symptoms.
The remedy is a simple plan, but one that is not always easy to implement. Forgiveness. Honestly, it’s not always easy to begin to forgive, but it is always worthwhile, always life-giving to forgive. I’ve had to learn that others’ reactions are up to them, that my actions and reactions are up to me. I want to take others’ intentions into account, but I can’t if they won’t communicate them to me for whatever reason. I am left with the need to forgive without the opportunity to understand. That’s the hardest situation of all, but it’s the calling, isn’t it? To forgive as we’ve been forgiven by Jesus – not by others, but by the savior of humanity who lived and died to bring forgiveness and reconciliation.
Among humans, forgiveness is always an option, it is one that must be chosen. I’ve had the difficult opportunity many times to practice choosing forgiveness when the door to reconciliation has been closed to me. Honestly, it involves choosing to release the emotions and thoughts without answers to questions, without understanding, and it is hard to do… to let go in that environment is soulfully dissonant. To fail to let go is soulfully destructive.
I keep coming back in my thoughts to ‘forgive AS you’re forgiven’ and it just blows my mind. Looking at how we’re forgiven shows us what that AS means…
- with sacrifice
- with mercy
- with grace
- with intent
- with knowledge
- with love
- with no record keeping
- with self-control
Just to name a few! I’m not perfect at this, not by a long way, but it’s my goal to release into God’s care the hurts and insults, the perceived slights and the upending choices, and to practice forgiving each and every time these unwanted and uncontrollable transition remnants rise within me. Every time. I can honestly say that because of this, I bear no unaddressed ill-will, no unforgiveness, toward any person that I know of – if it’s there, I pray God will make me aware so that I can get about it. I have a friend who always says ‘I wish I could’… to which the only reply is stop wishing and get doing. Being human, it’s clear to us all that life and relationships change in a moment, but practicing forgiveness is a thought-by-thought choice to hold on or let go. It’s a practice that did, does, and will change the world. That’s the kind of transition my soul longs for.