Rhett Smith Podcast 22: Facing Transitions Stage by Stage

RSP22About 15 years ago as I was reading through the Bible a specific passage jumped out at me and forever changed my life. I remember the moment 15 years ago…that’s how powerful this simple little verse was.

The verse read:

“From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded.” — Exodus 17:1

I was captivated by this idea that God journeyed his people…the whole congregation…the whole community that is…out of the desert wilderness. But he didn’t do it in one fell swoop, but literally, stage by stage. In fact, we know that the journey which should have taken only about 13 days into the Promised Land, actually took 40 years. Talk about a journey.

What fascinated me as I continued to read about this journey was that you get a real sense of this stage by stage movement in Numbers 33 where over 40 times in the first 48 verses of that chapter that the community “left” a place and “camped” somewhere else.

We are a people faced with constant change and always in transition. Often our desire is to find comfort and security, to just stay put and resist change. But the reality is that when we face our anxieties and move through change and transition we grow in the process. I can’t think of one good story where the character resisted change and came out a more compelling figure. It just doesn’t happen.

So why is it that we are so resistant to change and transition in our own lives? And how can we navigate it better?

In this episode I explore a couple of different ideas:

  • how anxiety is really our cue to keep moving forward and change, rather than hunker down.
  • the difference between change and transition.
  • what the move from orientation, to disorientation, to new orientation looks like

I love this quote by William Bridges from his book Transitions:

Our society confuses them constantly, leading us to imagine that transition is just another word for change. But it isn’t. Change is your move to a new city or your shift to a new job. It is the birth of your new baby or the death of your father. It is the switch from the old health plan at work to a new one, or the replacement of your manager by a new one, or it is the acquisition that your company just made.

In other words, change is situational. Transition on the other hand, is psychological (bold added for emphasis). It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t ‘take.’ Whatever word we use, our society talks a lot about change; but it seldom deals with transition. Unfortunately for us, it is the transition that blind-sides us and is often the source of our troubles.

And in this episode I want to address all of you who are facing change, and help encourage you to think through the actual transitional aspects of that change.

Please listen and subscribe to my podcast in the following places, and then leave a comment letting me know what you liked about the show, or what guest you would like to hear from. Thank you so much for your support.

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Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges

The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? by Rhett Smith

The Message of the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann

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