Summer has traditionally been a time of transition for my family. When we lived overseas, it was always summer when we moved – like, a BIG move; an over-the-ocean-move. So summer was always a time of packing and goodbyes and unpacking and hellos. Many families move in the summer (maybe just across town), adjusting to new rooms to arrange and decorate, and to new schools that the children are anticipating (or dreading). Summer also seems to grow kids faster than anything – so fast it seems they’re already moving away to college in just a few weeks! Careers can change, loved ones are no longer close, and your favorite ice cream shop closes… What am I trying to say? Summer seems to be a good time to write about surviving transition! How appropriate, too, that I was asked to document a sweet friend’s childhood home this summer as she faced the inevitable closing of that chapter in her life (some of the photos are at the end of this post). She was building a raft!
Allow me to explain… 🙂
Before we left our overseas home the most recent time, a dear friend reminded me to build my raft. What?! Oh yes… from the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by authors Dave Pollock and Ruth Van Reken. It’s actually an acronym: R.A.F.T. – and it’s how to transition well between major changes in your life. It is a 4-step system for moving from the “old” to the “new”.
R – Reconciliation
Make every effort to be at peace with those around you. If there have been troubling relationships that you know the Lord would have you address, then before you leave this place – mend them.
For most of my life, I avoided conflict. I didn’t know how to face it in a healthy manner. It scared me. I simply wanted to run away from it. It seemed so easy when I physically got to move away from it, but somehow it still followed me; haunted me. It would pop up in unrelated relationships. It seemed to be a pattern in my relationships until I learned how to address it. While this is the part of the raft I have traditionally skipped, it actually has the longest term impact on healthy transition (and my gut thanks me for it, too)!
I think the most important part to recognize in reconciliation is that you are only responsible for your part in the conflict. You do need to be 100% responsible for your part, even if it may be the smallest part of the conflict. Before you meet with the person you need to reconcile with, sit with a blank sheet of paper and pen and reflect on what it is you need to apologize for. Draft a specific apology (being specific communicates sincerity). Ask God for forgiveness, and ask others to pray for you as you prepare to meet with this person. Arrange an intentional time to meet with that person to apologize and ask for their forgiveness, too. You definitely do NOT want to slip it in a conversation on the fly just to get it over with in a hurry; they will feel blindsided. Oh, and don’t expect anything in return. Be humble and remember – you are only responsible for your part.
A – Appreciate
This comes so naturally to me, because I am an encourager. However, I was surprised how often I let appreciation go unspoken. Before moving back to the States, when I saw someone I appreciated, I would pause to make sure I had their attention, and then let them know specifically what I appreciated about them. I LOVED it! I loved having something to say other than “goodbye”. So many goodbyes in a row are so difficult, but to share with the people in my life what I appreciate about them – that was life-giving… for both of us!
F – Farewell
This is the famous dastardly part of transition – the goodbyes… All I will say about this is that it’s important to say them and it’s important to feel them. Make sure you’re creating space for yourself to grieve. Remember, this is only one part of your RAFT to survive transition. If you try and navigate transition on just this one log, then the proverbial waves of transition will sweep over you more and leave you feeling the overwhelming loss. Having all the logs in the raft tied together helps stabilize you!
By the way, it’s important to say farewell not only to people, but to schedules, habits, places, and past times that will change because of this new big move from “old” to “new”. So remember to go to your favorite breakfast place one last time to appreciate it. Remember to savor the sights and sounds as you go about your daily schedule. Make appointments on your calendar to make sure you have time to visit these places and do these things before you move on. Tip: Schedule your farewells with people at the places you also want to visit one last time!
T- Think Ahead
You’ve got to! Moving from “old” to “new” means packing – literal or emotional. It means properly preparing for what’s coming next. And while it’s important to address the logistics, thinking ahead also means to look forward to the blessings and benefits of what’s coming! God promises that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)! He promises that He gives us peace, not as the world gives us (John 14:27); but inexplicable peace that supersedes any circumstance we may find ourselves in! He promises to prepare a place for us (John 14:3) – yes, that verse is talking about Heaven, but if God hems us in before and behind (Psalm 139:5) and is in all places at all times (Isaiah 43:2) and cares for us beyond measure (Matthew 6:28), then I must conclude that He is preparing the place for where we are going, even on this earth!
And One More Thing…
In as much as it is within your power, maintain your alone time with God! Keep a consistent time to come before the Lord in prayer (which is as much about listening and praising as it is about requesting) and read the Bible (Psalms can be a great book to read during times of transition).
Now About My Friend
My dear sweet friend is going through a rough transition. She lost her father quite unexpectedly before she was fully an adult and could ask for fatherly wisdom on important decisions, like whom she would marry. Now she has recently sold her childhood home to help pay for the medical and living expenses of her mother – who has a disease which has slowly taken away her ability to communicate. My friend has been saying goodbye to her mother for years… At least, to the traditional relationship she has always treasured. Now she must say goodbye to her childhood home – the home that represented the last time her family was whole and healthy. So when I wrote earlier that she was building a raft, that’s what I meant. She is reconciling, appreciating, and saying farewell to that part of her life. I was so impressed with her request to capture the view out of her bedroom window, the Indiana corn growing tall against the summer sky, the tree she would day dream under, and the brick path her mom always wanted. And she is thinking ahead…. The couple who bought the house went to high school with her and are starting their family there. There will be new memories, new dreams under that same tree, and new experiences in which our heavenly Father will lavish His peace and love on them.
Thanks for reading! This is just one of my ways of putting a smile back in the world!
- Posted by hellobabs
- On July 25, 2018
- 0 Comment