Many people reading this will know that I have recently moved back to Austin, TX.
After a year and a half of living back at home with my family in Burbank, CA, I felt the release to move out and find a place to call my own. I had a feeling that I wouldn't be staying in LA so I decided that I would keep an open mind and try on a few cities. Austin was at the top of my list having spent a year in an internship at a church in Austin, however, I was also interested in Nashville.
So I decided that I would honor that interest and go and visit. I know that I (as well as the majority of us I would imagine) have a tendency to stick to what I know, so I knew that I needed to allow myself to think outside the box and really stretch myself before making any big decisions. And since Nashville was in my heart, I had to honor that.
During this time, my parents were also thinking about moving out of Burbank. And since the whole family was living on the property, that meant we all had to find a new place to live.
These are the kinds of times that you just need the timing of the Lord to step in. With so many moving parts, I don't trust anyone with the timing or the resources to pull off something like this, but Jesus.
While I was in Nashville I got together with one of my best friends who had just moved to the city. She is one of those friends who has known me for ages and isn't afraid to tell it to me straight.
I was sitting in her apartment as she was making us both breakfast when she turned to me and said, "Grace, what are you doing here?".
To which I replied, "I don't know!!!", "I feel like I'm just following bread crumbs at this point - I don't know what to do."
She replied to me "No, I don't like that. God is not a God of breadcrumbs. You know what you need to do."
BOOM! POW! Wow, don't we all need friends like that?!?
She was right. I hadn't been able to see it, but I had been so used to starting over (having moved over 16 times in my life) I hadn't thought about what it would be like to do that again, in Nashville, where everything would be fresh. Because the truth is that I'm tired. I don't want to start all over, all over again. I want to go where I know that I already have community, a church that I love, and opportunities for me to keep growing in my faith and in my career.
Something that I learned here and that I would like to pass on to anyone who might be in a similar position, is that sometimes you just have to let yourself be right where you are until you have someone who can help you see further and help you out of your stuck-ness. It might feel so imperfect and so messy, but no matter how messy you feel, you are beautiful and acceptable right where you are.
There surely will be a time again where you feel like you're in a clearing, but the times where you feel like you can't quite see past the trees are just as meaningful and valuable as the former.
They say that death of a loved one, moving, divorce, a major injury or illness and a job loss are the top five stressors in life. And they all require us to pivot or change our lives in one way or another.
Change can cause a lot of stress. That's just a fact. However, as I was navigating this massive change in my life, I was mindful of taking notes on what helped me in the process. Because I know that my life is not my own, and I know that we are meant to share our struggles and share our strengths. So I took some notes along the way which I would love to share with you!
Here are five tools for navigating change and transition with an open heart:
1. Know your baseline
Where do your thoughts and emotions sit on a regular basis?
What is your general disposition?
When you know where your general disposition is, it’s easier to pin-point where exactly you’re feeling off. Try to name your exact emotion and and then see if you can back-track to when it started and why it started. For instance, if I know that I am generally a happy, joyful, goofy and loving person, when I'm not feeling that way, I know that something is off.
Sometimes it’s even helpful to simply acknowledge those feelings, but still giving yourself permission to wait until you feel ready to investigate them.
For example, when I was in the midst of having to find a new apartment last minute, there's no way I would be able to sit and contemplate, "Ok, why am I feeling afraid?"... The answer is pretty clear- "BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE A PLACE TO LIVE" (haha, duh!).
It was about two months after the event that I was able to actually sit down, journal it out, talk to God about how hard it was, and be able to put some distance between me and that event.
However, it is massively helpful to acknowledge when you are not at your baseline state, and that what you're feeling is not your normal. It offers you somewhat of a map to get back "home".
Some practical things that help me to get out of my head and get back to my baseline is:
taking a cold shower
going for a run
getting into nature
or talking to a friend who will tell it to me straight
talking to a friend or family member who knows how to comfort me
2. Observe patterns
Something that I noticed in myself in this most recent time of change and transition is that night after night, as soon as the sun started to go down, I started to feel very emotional. I started to feel fear of having made the wrong decision, anxiety over the many things on my to-do list, and a deep feeling of loneliness.
And although I’m not entirely sure why it played out that way, it’s something I took note of. So every night, I would call a family member and talk to them until I was reminded of the truth of my safety within my family and my God. I would also spend time in prayer before bed, which would help me to fall asleep peacefully.
Over time, that nighttime anxiety has begun to dissipate as I have started to settle into my new normal. But knowing that there was a pattern helped me feel like I had a little more control in those moments.
3. Don’t rush yourself out of what you’re feeling
Try your very best to be present with what you are feeling and talk to God right when you’re in the middle of it. Tell Him what’s going on and let yourself talk it out in real time.
And if you're anything like me, as much as you just want the feelings to go away and for everything just to be better, try not to rush to conclusions or solutions too quickly. Sometimes I think a lot of the pain that we experience in these times actually comes from running from our emotions, and not the emotions, themselves.
I think it’s really powerful when we’re able to sit and be present in what we’re feeling. We have to place value on our emotions and let them do their work in us. That’s not to say that we should sulk or cause ourselves to fall into some sort of emotional pit, but we need to have compassion on ourselves and allow ourselves to be right where we are.
I personally feel that that’s where healing begins. When we are raw, in the moment, not placing a “good” or “bad” label on what we’re feeling, and simply acknowledging where our hearts are at.
4. Rest when you’re not strong & do the healing work when you are
If you don’t feel like you’re up to processing all of the change happening in your life, maybe what you really need is a nap. It’s OK if you need some time before you start unpacking your intense emotions. I think what’s important is that when you are feeling the intense emotions that you find ways to make yourself feel safe.
However, when you are feeling strong, I highly suggest circling back around to the memory of those intense times, begin to review them, and bring those painful memories to the Lord. For me, this alleviates a lot of my pain and allows the healing light of Jesus to come into those places so that the next time I'm feeling that way, it won’t have such a hold on me.
When we learn from our painful experiences, it makes us stronger and give us the ability to be a strength for others when they are going though a similar experience. Our healing matters not just for ourselves, but for our community, too.
5. Find practical things that make you feel safe
What are some things that bring you comfort? Make a list.
Whether its prayer, worship, a bath, a glass of wine, talking to a friend, family member, going for a walk, etc. Make a list so that you have a place to go in your time of desperation.
For me, I like to go for walks. It helps me clear my head and come back to my body. Sometimes watching a funny movie can actually help a lot - laughter is healing! I also really like to cook. If you are someone who has been feeling a loss of control in your life, try cooking or gardening! Both of those things have enriched my life so much.
The main takeaway here is just to have grace on yourself. Let yourself be right where you are and know that God has a plan for you. He will not let you down and He will not let you forget that you have a future.
Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
You are chosen. You are loved and you are safe.