Teacher Lynette, I love you. Don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go!” My heart broke a little as I read my student’s words scrawled above a picture she’d drawn of the two of us. I had been getting a lot of these notes and drawings from my students lately, as the countdown on my whiteboard reminded us that the day of my departure was near.
After two years as a missionary English teacher in this school, it was time for me to move on. It was bittersweet. I was glad I had made a difference in these precious young lives. I was rejoicing that I could finally move in with my husband after several months of being a “weekend couple” while I finished my mission commitments. But I was also going to miss my children. And I was sad to lose the community and structures that had shaped my time in Korea up to that point.
Ready for something new, I was excited for the chance to craft a different chapter in my life. Yet I also felt somewhat overwhelmed by all the changes—moving and unpacking (the third time I was moving house within a year); getting used to a new church where I sometimes felt isolated by language and cultural differences; and finding my way around a new community.
My husband was very supportive, and the church was kind, but I sometimes felt frustrated, irritated, or simply drained as I processed all the new things. Internally I wrestled with “the way things should be done.” In reality, it was simply the way I preferred, or the way I was used to doing things. I knew it was a protective reaction, and I wanted to have more grace for the differences I was now encountering, while also holding to my personal values and boundaries.
After a particularly emotional day I found myself looking up the stages of transition. According to the Bridges Transition Model it was normal to feel discouraged, apathetic, and disoriented in the zone between an ending and a new beginning. These feelings wouldn’t last forever. Being in a challenging emotional place didn’t mean that I was on the wrong path.
God often guides us to change. A change of heart, location, career, or lifestyle. He says to us, “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?” (Isa. 43:18, 19).
But sometimes we forget that change is hard. Even good change.
If God is calling you to a change, don’t be dismayed if it’s a harder transition than you expected. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you heard God wrong or went the wrong way. Change is just hard. It is normal to move through excitement, grief, resistance, anxiety, exploration, and hope on the journey.
In all the ups and downs of transition, God is ever-present with strength, support, and good gifts to encourage us along the way. In all the changes of life, He remains constant.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).