I opened my Facebook the other day and it had the see your memories link at the top of the news feed. I always love looking at these things and looking back at a lot of change and a reminder of some long-term friendships. That day when I opened it I saw a reminder that it had been 12 months since my last Youth Camp at my old Church. 12 MONTHS! Where the heck did that time go. I looked back over the last 12 months and my whole life looks different. I have a new job, I am married, I live in a different state, I have met hundreds of new people, and not a single relationship is the same.
This year has been a year of transition for me, and for many people from the ages of 15-30, you will be going through heaps of transition, transitioning from a youth to an adult, from single to married, from finishing high school to getting a full time job, from one career to another. Those transitions are exciting, but I can also attest to some difficult parts of transitions, parts like the loss of friends, the moving away from family.
Knowing that all of us will be going through transition and change in our lives, I wanted to share with you 4 things that I think are key to going through change well.
Don’t Hate People On The Way Out.
I know that seems really weird to say but it’s something that I have seen happen time and time again, and something I had to protect my heart from. Let me explain why, often what happens is that your heart and mind know that leaving everyone is going to be hard, so what do they do to protect themselves, they start to focus on all the ways these people are annoying, all the stupid things they have done, the pain they caused. This is so that there is a bit of emotional distance created in your heart, so the pain is less intense.
I mean this happened to me when I was moving house in the same city and was losing a housemate. I got petty about the clean up of the house and started a pointless, needless argument which at the time I thought was legitimately about the cleaning of the house. Really though it was about me being sad that I was losing a friend and knowing that our relationship was changing.
It’s often so subtle that unless you are aware of it, you will do it instinctively, but don’t do it, don’t let your last few months or moments with people be tainted by a drive to create emotional distance, rather lean in, be more present, recall the highlights together.
Whatever you do don’t hate people on the way out.
Hear the stories
Wherever you are going, or whatever you are starting to do, the people and places that you have begun to connect with all have stories.
These stories that exist there are what you are joining into and building upon.
Hearing the stories is really critical to helping you understand the people or place, but also in helping you be sensitive to their story as you move forward together.
This is critically important because often people feel that new people are going to change the group, the organisation, the place. When you stop and hear the stories of what has gone on in the past you are able to honour that as you move into the future together, it leaves those who were there before you feeling safe, honoured, understand and a lot more open to who you are as a person.
So wherever you go, whatever you do, when you go somewhere new hear the stories that existed before you.
Build the relationship before the change.
This is a lesson more focused on leadership but vital for all of us to understand. Most people don’t follow a position such as CEO or Pastor, they follow a person, the person who fills that role. Which means that if you are moving into a position of leadership the most important thing you can do is build the relationship.
When people feel that they know you, that they are known by you, they are able to buy into you as a person, and they are open to hearing the ideas you have.
This goes back a bit to the listening to the stories that go before you. These people that are about to become a big part of our life are wondering if you are going to be a big part of their life. Things like, will you be their boss for a while, will they like working for you (which is really should they look for a new job) are you respectful of those you lead.
The answer to those questions is not found in your position but in your personhood.
Make sure that you build the relationship before you go blasting through change. I know there are cases where change has to happen immediately, but as much as we can build the relationship before the change, it will help people move forward together.
Grieve and Gain
This for me is deeply personal, when I moved up to my new job, I had a whole bunch of emotions whirling around, all understandable for someone moving interstate from his family, friends and then fiance now wife! I remember random things would bring a sense of sorrow, loss, nostalgia. One time I was driving to work and realised that one day these roads would be the normal everyday roads that I would know like the back of my hand and Ballarat’s roads would become foreign, hard to remember, that I would eventually have to use some navigation system to make my way around Ballarat. The nostalgia hit me hard. Over my realisation that the roads I was driving were different.
Grieving is normal in transition and is something that we need to have grace for, but it isn’t something we should sit in for too long because while we can grieve what we have lost, we can also be thankful for all that we have gained.
That all of a sudden we are in a new city with a whole heap of new people, new friends, new opportunities, new experiences, new things to learn, new ways of living, new places to eat food. All of these are incredible gifts, these are all things you wouldn’t have had if you had stayed in the same place, there is something special about change, about transition, something that we gain that could never be replicated. (I talk about it more here: Say Yes To New Adventures.)
While we should grieve what we have lost, we should celebrate that which is gained.
Do Change Well.
The truth is change and transition are a normal part of life that we will all have to navigate in a variety of ways. So it’s important for us to navigate it well. Understanding that we shouldn’t hate people on the way out. That we must hear the stories that have gone before us. That relationship must come first before the change, and that finally, we must grieve what was lost and celebrate what we have gained.
I hope this post has been able to help you think about any change that you might be facing right now, or that it will set you up for any change that you will face. All I know is that change is coming for you, just make sure you are ready to face it as best you can, in fact, so you can embrace it, and be excited about it. Change is an incredible growth tool that God uses, so make the most of it.