Transitions are never easy. Moving to a new location, however excited we are about the move, always involves changes, adjustments, and loss. Marsha and I are excited to be back in Indiana, living near family and friends, and getting acquainted and reacquainted with Indiana. And yet, we also keep going through "losses."
A recent example is silly, but significant. We completed the process of getting Indiana driver's licenses and license plates for our cars. That process is lengthy in these days of post-9/11 security. However, the most difficult part for us was the grief of giving up our North Dakota license plates with their familiar buffalo designs. Seems silly, doesn't it? They are just license plates, just a piece of metal (as opposed to the plastic plates here in Indiana), but we each experienced some sense of loss over those old buffalo plates. We talked about it and that helped, but the grief was real. After all, in my case that buffalo license plate traveled with me on two different cars for over 270,000 miles in the Dakotas! My new Indiana plate is nice and clean, but I had to give up my buffalo.
In a wonderful book by William Bridges entitled "Managing Transitions," there is this helpful quote: "Change is external, but transition is internal." How true that is! Moving to a new location, taking a new appointment, changing jobs, starting school, getting married, birthing a first child, having the last child leave the nest ... we all go through hundreds of changes in our lifetimes. We can easily get wrapped up in the externals of those changes, but the real issue is allowing ourselves time to grieve, to adjust, and to manage the internal transitions which go with such changes. Part of that internal transition is letting go of the past. Or as Bridges also says in his book, "Every beginning starts with an ending."
The Good News of the Gospel is that God goes with us through these times of transition, leading us, guiding us, and in fact preceding us into the future. It is our faith in that God-who-travels-with-us which enables us to let go of our old life and to move into our new life. And yet, grief is real, loss is real, and the internal transitions take time. So, please be patient with me (and with Marsha) if you notice that we are dealing with simple things like giving up our buffalo license plates. It is all part of the transition and moving in faith into our new life here in Indiana.
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner