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Transitions are Where the Bad Things Happen

(Or, What I Learned about Major Life Changes From Worship Planning)

WorshipOutloud-GraphicOn Sunday morning the band enters the stage quietly while the congregation is busy finding seats and talking among themselves. The first song begins and will probably make it to the end without much trouble. There might be awkward silence before the next song begins—the keyboard player shuffling through his sheet music, the bass player tuning his strings and comes in late, the progression from bridge to double chorus is mutilated by the electric guitar player, and the quiet chorus at the end is butchered by the drummer. The wrong slide is on the screen and everyone in the room feels the pain of blundering graceless incompetence.

It is during the transitions that everything falls apart. A bad transition will not only ruin what just happened but will sabotage the thing that happens next.

This is not only true for Sunday morning, it is also in the passage from one chapter of our life to another that we can be in the greatest danger. I wrote about how transitions can be hard to accept when we are called to put aside one dream to pursue another. The way in which we handle the space between one chapter and the next will define what we are leaving behind and set up what we are about to begin.

In the transition from child to adult we can become lost in our adolescence, shirking responsibility, raging against authority and making mistakes that will set the course for the rest of our life. It is the same for other major changes—college to career, single to married, first job to second job, or finding ourselves between jobs.

Transitions are a natural part of life, here are a few things to think about when you are in between:

  1. Remember where you have been but don’t hold on to it so tightly that you stop moving forward. Like when you just played your favorite hymn and the next song is that Chris Tomlin song you said you never wanted to hear again.
  2. Look forward to what God is calling you to do, He has been preparing you for the next chapter. Like when your music teacher told you to always look ahead in your music so you’re not surprised by the double forte that suddenly becomes a triple pianissimo.
  3. Don’t dwell on the transition itself, giving in to despair and hopelessness. Like when you make a mistake but you don’t stop the song and cry.
  4. Refrain from blaming others for the situation you find yourself in. Like that one time when you called out the soundman for muting the wireless microphone that you had forgotten to turn on.
  5. Prepare for the transitions you know are coming, gracefully improvise through the ones that are a surprise. Like having a scripture ready to read just in case the guitar player breaks a string or the computer running ProPresenter needs to be rebooted.
  6. Acknowledge the reality of the transition to the people who are around you, don’t try to hide it. Like when the person running slides is on the wrong verse so you say, “Let’s sing the first verse again.”

When we are between where we have been and where we are going it can be awkward and frightening, but God will fight for us—we need only to trust Him.