That barren pic above is my classroom, after the final group of students has gone, with most of the decorations removed. My room for six years; my school for eight. Just last week while writing an in class essay, one student saw me taking out the guts of the notebooks for the classes I’ve taught and said, “Mr. Riter, that’s so sad. Your life’s work going in the trash.”
In a tremendously clichéd yet true response, I replied, “No, you guys are my life’s work. These are just the tools to teach you to think, to analyze, to probe below the surface.”
Transition time. Time to retire, to move into a new phase of life. The countdown began with over 50 school days; as I write it’s just four. That’s behind this delayed post—getting grades done, writing letters of recommendation, prepping our previous Temecula house to move back into.
But how does this fit into a blog on spiritual formation, on crafting intimacy with God? Quite closely, actually.
Apart from God, change seems to be the only constant. Some changes we choose, some are chosen for us, by others or God. But inevitable they are. Expect them. And, accept them. They’re reality (OK, full disclosure time. I would LOVE to have the physical body of my twenties. I struggle to accept the decreased muscle mass and endurance). The good old days are in the past tense, so don’t waste emotional and mental energy trying to live in memories.
Realize that change brings a changing blend of relief and grief. After making and announcing the decision to retire, relief flooded my soul. No essays to grade, no students with no desire to learn, no…(fill in the blank). But once that ran its course, joys that I would lose took over and brought the grief of loss. No close connections with fellow faculty. No daily opportunities to help shape the lives of young adults willing to learn and rethink, no…(again, fill it in yourself). Few changes in life are fully good or bad.
Last, realize God remains in the midst of change. One of my 649 life verses, Proverbs 16:9, says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (NIV). That concept blends tremendous freedom from God trusting us to plan while still guiding. I made my retirement plans, based on tiredness and dreams. God tweaked them a bit. And I must admit, he was gracious to do that. My eagerness could have easily caused some problems.
So, what’s the point? Change is real and regular. But we can trust that God knows us, he knows our best, he loves us, and he’ll work for the kingdom best.
Kick Starting the Application
Look back at some key transitions in your past. What most stressed you? What most relieved stress? What role did God play in the changes? Could you have approached it differently to give God more room to work?
Look ahead at some looming transitions. What have you learned about handling change more effectively? How can you maximize God’s role?