Transitions are awkward and are often not given the grace or attention they need. When I think of transitioning jobs or perhaps the move that I am in currently from one home to another, it rouses up a restlessness that leaves me clutching for the worst. Fast food, too much social media, and a total avoidance of exercise become the norm in a season of transition. Transitions also make me cling co-dependently to relationships with my husband, kids and closest friends when all else seems out of sorts - this is painful for all of us. When all has been uprooted, nothing feels safe. I am there, but not yet. I am here, but not really. I am almost, but not quite. Who truly can say they enjoy transitions?
The truth is, I used to think I loved change - but really what I thought I loved was in reality, running. Change or transition is not the same as flight mode. Escaping uncomfortable feelings, tangible pain, difficult people, or God is not how we transition and grow forward. We simply return to ground zero.
But I actually love the idea of growth and change. Cognitively speaking, I can call it good and necessary. It’s the only thing you can ever count on. Change is a reality of the human condition. I have touted myself as a person friendly to change - but what’s been revealed these last three weeks is ugly. I often liked the idea of change because it meant moving on. Change meant I had to “do” something. And if I was the one leading the charge for change, I especially liked it. I was the one controlling the response mechanisms and in a nutshell: change meant problem solving which usually equals doing something about the problem. I am so down for doing something about a perceived problem.
Transition: a passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another: CHANGE:
a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another.
I sit around the table every Monday with 6 courageous women who are in transition. They are literally morphing before my eyes, week to week through ACCESS, an 8 week, paid program where women transitioning out of the sex industry gain independence within the context of belonging. Of our six women, 4 have identified as human trafficking victims and all have undergone various levels of sexual trauma. They got to inform what our 2 hour block on Mondays looked like. I asked them to complete a general survey about their desires, goals, favorite foods and such so I could glean from their input and pray about what our class time might entail. To my surprise, 4 of the 6 desired to obtain a skill in the visual and performing arts: singing or acting. My heart was bursting. Of all the skills to name - singing and acting? Of all the instructors - me? And so our time on Mondays has consisted of dreaming, writing, singing, dancing, and listening. NOTHING is more universal than music. It is the language of heaven. It is the sound from which we were created. Before there was matter, there was sound. Notice - in the creation story, God never creates sound. It simply is. Music is a connection to essence.
And in a season of transition and change, what we desperately need is connection to our spirit. That part of us where the holiness, unshakable, loving nature of God resides. I don’t know another way to connect than song, and the women desired to sing - and so we have. We have acknowledged the transitions in their lives and the grief that accompanies death of the old. We have reminded ourselves that we will always be facing a transition and in fact, have LIVED through them all. But have we lived them well? Have we allowed ourselves grace when we’re agitated and short tempered? Have we given ourselves permission to be sad and feel lonely in this space where so called “friends”, especially friends to have “fun” with, are gone?
What has come of this time has been amazing language and imagery. Just yesterday one of our ACCESS sisters wrote a poem and shared it with us. Immediately the others said, “Emily, put that to music, sing THAT!” I shifted and shook a little… “what, like right now? Do any of you have a melody?” Brett came out of his office and sat at the incredible baby grand donated to JSL, he began to play a simple chord structure...back and forth….back and forth...lulling and calling me to connection. I closed my eyes and waited for a tune. Could I give total access to the Holy Spirit, be as childlike and vulnerable with this process in front of the others? What if the poet didn’t like it? What if it was a crappy melody? What if the words didn’t fit into the meter? Could I change them or would she be offended? Nonsense. I had to let go. I had to venture out into this kind of exposure if I desired them to do the same. And so I sang her words:
“What was broken became strong -
What was soiled, what you thought was wrong.
Strength manifesting beauty,
Every breath given peace, peace.
Watch her grow, tears of joy hit the sky
There is power, there is power when you cry
When you cry
When you cry
She’s a light in the darkness
My firefly, oh butterfly
Watch the harvest
Stunning, graceful, hope exudes
You feel Him, know Him, He is you.
Living through us he made us strong
The truth is, we are all in transition. Are we connecting to where God is moving us? Where God is desiring to grow us? Are we observant learners of ourselves. As we will roast the marshmallows and transition to falling leaves and carving pumpkins, can we bless all that has fallen away, can we grieve what we lost in the warmth and sunshine of summer? Can we find new mercies and joy for today? If you need some help - cue the music.
Founder, Jesus Said Love