Practicing Grace During Seasons of Transition


A little over ten years ago, we were pregnant with our first child, a daughter who would be named Natalie. We were extremely excited and nervous. I shared with one of my mentor-pastors that we were expecting to be parents. His face lit up, said “that’s awesome,” and then gave me a piece of unsolicited advice that would change my world, literally. He said, “Be prepared to not be as effective at work. And know that that’s ok.” My mentor-pastor was modeling the grace I would need to navigate our new season of life; grace I would need to give my wife and grace I’d need to give myself. With newness, there will always be a challenge and the need to practice grace.

Fast forward to three months ago.

Natalie is now 10, our son, Isaac, is 7, and we just moved across the state so I could start a new pastorate. Tara and I once again found ourselves full of excitement and nervousness, except this time, there were two more people in our house who also were excited and nervous. My mentor-pastor’s words were constantly at the forefront of my thoughts, “Be prepared to not be as effective at work.” I would add at parenting, at being a husband, at being a son or brother. Because, with newness, there will always be a challenge and the need to embrace grace.

Now, go back to two weeks ago.

Our entire household was in a funk. We were all grumpy and short-tempered. I tried to be both empathic and direct with our children. I blamed Tara for being moody and sensitive. I tried to model being tough and I thought/acted like I had it all together. The truth was that I didn’t have it all together. If I had been honest with myself at the moment, I would have said that I was sad, somewhat overwhelmed, and confused. I was sad about what we had lost, overwhelmed with having to learn new names and faces, and confused with new bill schedules, new rhythms, and just all the newness in general. 

Be prepared to not be as effective at work…parenting…marriage…life in general.

There was a moment later in the week when everything calmed down for a precious few moments. Tara and I were alone and we both looked at each other and asked, “What is wrong with us?” Vulnerability entered the room, we teared up and confessed our confusion and sadness to one another. It was in that moment that we both reclaimed the need to not only identify our need for grace but to practice grace with one another and with our children. We proceeded to walk upstairs to our kids’ bedrooms and gave them hugs. We identified the sadness and overwhelming feelings that associate with newness and transition. We then began to limp honestly, yet refreshingly through the rest of the week.

Be prepared to not be as effective at work…parenting…marriage…life.

I write the above because I encourage any marriage or family that experiences transition or a season of change to know that any transition, even “good” transition is tough. When I reflect upon our most recent transition, I think of the words of Ecclesiastes 3, “a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to weep and a time to laugh.” Whenever there is planting, there will be hope. Whenever there is uprooting, there will be sadness. So, I encourage all marriages and families to consider the following if they are in a season of change/transition.

  1. Schedule times as a family to process and talk through the transition. Allow each other to express their feelings and validate those feelings, even if they are uncomfortable. Strive first to listen in order to understand and empathize. 
  2. Understand that adjusting takes time. You will hopefully and eventually find yourself excited about your new place to then only be surprised by a sudden on-set sadness of missing a friend or coffee shop. Please know that sadness and excitement can exist together. 
  3. Give yourself and everyone in your family grace. If your adorable little boy is an uncharacteristic monster, he might need a hug of support, not a reprimand. If your normally talkative little girl is uncharacteristically quiet, write her a note of encouragement. 

All in all, make sure you practice grace during seasons of transition. Be prepared to not be as effective at work, but work hard to be effective at giving grace. 



About

Paul is the husband to Tara, father to Natalie and Isaac, has an average jump shot, and enjoys running. His secret wish is to one day become a Jedi Knight. Paul holds a doctorate in marriage and family counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and serves as senior pastor of Harrodsburg Baptist Church. Paul desires to help young couples navigate the early crucibles of marriage, especially when one or both of the spouses are engaged in vocational ministry. You can follow Paul on Twitter or visit his website at paulbgibson.com (links below).


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