I woke up this morning and absolutely nothing happened. My alarm didn’t ring, I didn’t silence it. I didn’t reach for my small leather bound ESV on the nightstand by the bed.
In fact, my nightstand wasn’t even by the bed.
Instead, there was another piece of furniture there.
A dingy, white-washed three-drawer chest, drawers empty, aside from a piece of paper with a few numbers printed on it. Numbers I had placed there because, as hard as I had tried in the three weeks I had lived here, I couldn’t remember them.
After that I didn’t put on my running shoes, as I normally would have. I didn’t leave the house, didn’t shower, didn’t make my usual pot of French Press. I looked in the walk-in closet, exploding with boxes and unfolded clothes, stared at my brand new husband asleep in our bed.
His chest rose and fell, rose and fell in a very particular rhythm that was typical of him. It would, very soon I hoped, become familiar to me, calming, predictable and steady, like a metronome.
Sun poured in through the sliding glass door in the living room, until it had nearly painted the whole room yellow, but I didn’t sit myself right down in the middle of it, legs crossed, laptop open, door cracked, so as not to miss a minute of the warmth and light.
I didn’t even have a laptop anymore.
It was one of the things I had to leave behind.
Along with this tool set my dad had bought me for Christmas a few years back. There was a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, a hammer – all cheap and flimsy – but there were flowers on the handles, and I had used them to hang my own pictures and to fix a problem with my closet door this one time, and so leaving them behind felt a little funny.
I had tried to bring them with me.
I’d shoved them in the zipper pocket on the lid of my suitcase, one wrapped in a sweatshirt, one among swimsuits, one stuck down the toe of a shoe. But when my husband lifted the suitcase onto the scale at check-in, and it read 75, I didn’t even need a Continental Representative to tell me. I knew what I had to do.
Flower tools and two bottles of red wine – wedding gifts from my husband – left in the garbage at Portland International.
None of it phased me at the time – leaving the tools, the wine, leaving Portland, the getting on a plane to move to a city 3000 miles away – although, if you asked my husband he would probably tell you it did.
I was acting funny, he said. I’m not acting funny, I told him. I’m fine.
But now as I stood here in our new apartment in a new city, suitcases still half-unpacked and boxes bursting with clothes that seemed too long and too heavy and too clunky for the new life I was living, I was feeling kind of funny. I wasn’t sure what to do.
So I did nothing.
Normally, I would have gone for a run. That would have cleared my head. But my running shoes were buried and my body felt heavy and bloated from travel and it was at least 40 degrees warmer outside than I was used to this time of year.
I didn’t feel like running.
Normally, I would have brewed a pot of French Press and sat down with a steaming cup and a favorite book in my favorite blue chair. I would have looked out the window watching the rain. But here there was no rain, no need for steaming coffee, and someone else was the proud new owner of my favorite blue chair.
Besides, I wasn’t sure what boxes were what, which books were where.
Normally, I would have cleaned and cleaned. Dumped out every box, folded every piece of laundry, obsessed over every decision until every last item had a home and it was in it. Then I’d be able to relax.
But now I had a husband, and he was sleeping, and he had been working so hard, I couldn’t bear to wake him.
Normally, I would have written, spilled my guts onto a page, word by word, until I had said everything I wanted to say but never wanted anyone to read, that is, until a few days later when someone finally convinced me to share it with a few thousand strangers on my blog.
But today there was no more blog, no more friendly strangers to comment on my oddly normal life.
I had traded my blog for a wedding – a pretty good trade if I do say so myself. I had run out of time and energy to mull over every passing thought and to turn it into something worth sharing.
I hadn’t yet figure out how to pin down, in 800 words, each day, the new life that I was living.
There was nothing normal about this. Nothing.
Or maybe there was.
It’s normal, I think, to struggle through difficult transitions. It’s normal, when God asks you to step out of your comfort zone to say, like a school-aged child, being forced to finish his vegetables, “Dad, do I have to?”
Yes, you have to, the dad will say. I’m your dad. I know what’s good for you. I’ve got you. Eat your vegetables.
You’ll be okay.
So on a morning when I would have done a million things – from exercise to grocery shopping to coffee with a friend – I just sat there and did nothing. And suddenly, in the silence of the morning, as the sun poured in and my husband slept peacefully in our bed, I started to hear something.
It’s normal. You’re normal. I heard Him say to me.
Change is hard. Transition is hard. I get it. But I need you to trust me.
The whole world sort of stopped, like someone hit the pause button.
Transition is a funny place because there’s no real way to hurry it. It exists as long as it wants to, as long as it has to, before the next thing begins.
- It’s the blank space between repetitions, the slight rest of the pendulum between swings to the right and to the left.
- It’s the clock winding up for another few months of tick-tocking.
- It’s the fresh and rested restaurant night crew eagerly coming on shift.
There’s this awkward moment where no one knows which table belongs to whom – this sort of hold-your-breath piece of time where you hope everything works out the way it’s should.
Things just seem to hang in the balance.
Transition might not be cozy, but it’s necessary. It’s the only way. Think about it. There is no other way to start something new. Without transition, it would just be the same old thing over and over and over again. How boring would that be?
Praise God for transition.
Praise God that I don’t have to do what I’ve always done, I don’t have to be who I’ve always been.
Praise God for the things that He has done and the things that He is about to do, and the things in the future that are beyond what I could even dream.
Praise God for the rest in-between.
For Prodigal Magazine, this is start of the pendulum’s next swing. We can feel it, building momentum and picking up pace while we swoop into the deepest, most meaningful part of action. The pause is over. The rest was needed. But now we are in it. Will you join us? — This is the start of something significant.