I recently had a conversation with a new friend who moved to the Twin Cities to pursue a dream. Her dream was to live close to one of her children (the other is across the country on her own adventure) and her future grandchild. In this huge step of faith, she had to leave behind the home and city she’s always known, a job and supervisor she loved, and enter into a long-distance relationship with her husband, a professor who stayed behind to finish the school year, about six hours away. As we talked, she confessed that she feels so lost all the time and so lonely (even with the help of Google Maps).
I told her that it might surprise her, but in many ways I could relate. After graduating from St. Cloud State University and getting married, my new husband and I moved to the Twin Cities, away from the friends who knew us best and a great church, all for the accessibility to better job opportunities. No one could have prepared me for the loneliness and sadness that first year would hold. I missed my community, my friends, Bible study, church, and the rhythm of life that I’d developed.
As she wondered if she had made the wrong decision to follow her dream, I found God speaking through me that indeed she had made the right decision. Unfortunately, transition isn’t any easier just because you know it was the right thing to enter into.
For those of you who are familiar, when you want to plant something in your garden or yard, you usually transplant it from someone else’s home or your local nursery in one of those flimsy plastic containers with too-large holes for drainage in the bottom. I told her that although we trust the One who uprooted us, it stinks to be stuffed into an ugly, barely useful container. And it probably stinks even more not to know where we’re going to be planted next.
The longer you’re in transition, the more the soil starts to fall away from your roots, making you feel naked and even more alone. The familiar things that have always been there fall away, but that also makes room for the roots to continue to grow and become stronger while the plant waits for the transition from the ground in one place to another. I think the same is true for us in our walks with God.
While longing for the end of the transition, you can get used to the extra room that the fallen-away soil gives you; maybe it’s more independence, freedom to explore your new surroundings and settle in just a bit. Mostly, though, I think you long for solid ground to be under you again. At least, I do.
When it’s finally time to be planted again, the gardener has to dig deep and wide enough to create even more space for the plant to grow into its new home. Then the gardener squeezes the sides of the planter to fully release the plant from its temporary home, securing it in solid ground again.
Sometimes the preparation and squeezing process feels like it lasts forever, but trust me, it means you’ll be planted soon.
I reminded my friend that once her grandbaby is born, one more piece will fall into place. Then the school year will wrap up and her husband will join her. They will sell their old home, and she will get to help choose a new one—one that she can see herself growing into and filling with beauty. Though the waiting in the insufficient pot is painful and feels so isolating, she’s not alone and neither are you.
The more we are honest with each other, the more we find people who either are in the same place we are or we meet people who have trusted the Master Gardener and made it through a really tough transition.
I think it is in this way that God prepares us to bloom where he plants us, and reminds us of how very much we need him through the entire process. I’m so thankful for God’s sweet reminders, as I needed this message so much.
May the difficulties of transition not consume your heart or cause you to be anxious, but rather, be filled with the joy of the Lord and thankfulness that he will always finish the work he begins in us.