Finally, the big projects were complete enough and we set aside a summer to relax. We went to places we hadn’t been before and got to know the landscape more completely; we entertained and deepened our friendships; we learned about the community and its dynamics. Our children visited more often and felt increasingly at home with us.
Although Chris and I have been together for nearly 7 years, gaining a sense of being a settled couple who are the nucleus of a family, known by friends and engaged in the environment we live in, well, it took time and work to build insofar as we have. It has taken many adjustments, a lot of communication and compromise, and most of all a commitment of love to one another. From my view, it’s a lot like what UUFCO is going through.
Transitions like ours, and like UUFCO’s, are not easy. To quote William Bridges who wrote the book, Managing Transitions,
“It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. They aren’t the same thing. Change is situational: the move to a new site, the retirement of the founder, the reorganization of roles on the team, the revisions to the pension plan. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological; it is a three-phase process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about.”
Brides’ three phases of transition, briefly, are:
1. Letting go of the old ways and the old identity.
2. Going through an in-between time when the old is gone
but the new isn’t fully emerged and working yet.
3. Coming out of the transition and making a new beginning.
Transitions start with an ending and end with a beginning. It’s easy to talk about endings and beginnings; they’re clear and we know what they mean. The in-between part, ‘the neutral zone,’ is what we struggle most with, certainly in our culture. When things are in limbo or feel a bit chaotic or out-of-control, our identity is challenged and our capacity for ambiguity is tested. The challenge is to accept our feelings of vulnerability of not being in control, to be thoughtful and wise in our responses, and to let time do its work. The summer that Chris and I relaxed our expectations of each other and ourselves was when the quality of our lives and relationships deepened as we let time and love do its work.
As we begin a new church year with a new mission statement and many other projects, hopes and dreams, may we remember to let time and love do their work along with us.