by Dennis Ensor
Because of recent conversations I’ve had with several people and because of some things I’ve been reading and a look back at some of my own experiences I feel the need to talk about life transitions—not all transitions, but the excruciatingly painful kind. I’m talking about the kind of transitions that usually come after a crystal clear Moment of realization that “this, the way things are or have been, just isn’t working anymore. In reality, it never worked very well and in fact it is NEVER GOING to work very well.”
Usually that realization doesn’t come until after one’s life has started falling apart. After a period of fermentation in the cesspool of life, this person is gradually reborn in to a more reality based state of mind. These transitions are usually accompanied by actions that, heretofore, would have been very embarrassing and humiliating. But, much like those Moments between the time you realize that you are about to have a crash (and there is nothing you can do to prevent it) and the actual impact, all you can do is watch in slow motion as the event unfolds. You feel like the whole world is watching you and that they are going to see and know with certainty what a mess your life is in. At this Moment, part of you no longer cares if they do see and know. Part of you just doesn’t care.
Your “friends” and family become extremely uncomfortable, bewildered, flustered and embarrassed by the course you have (or have not) chosen (or the pickle you have gotten yourself into). They want you to get back to your “old self” because they were comfortable with that—even if it was dysfunctional or broken and so you get pressure from all sides to “go back”. But you are not going back. That way just doesn’t work.
As you were leading up to this Moment of crisis your emotions were being pulled and pushed and torn in all directions. As the realization that the world, as you knew it, was about to come crumbling down you felt panic and dread and embarrassment.
Everything seemed so surreal. You couldn’t believe what was happening to you. You felt totally out of control—totally helpless. In some cases, even the thought of dying was more agreeable than the thought of living. The future looked so hopeless. There were so many obstacles ahead.
These Moments of realization can be related to things financial—you are so weary of trying to make ends meet and you are failing miserably. They could be spiritually related—you see that what you have been taught all your life and what you have fought for so diligently doesn’t hold water. You tried to be exactly what your parents or your spiritual mentor said you should be but you can’t make it work for you in spite of your best efforts.
Or, it may have something to do with your marriage. It’s not working the way you thought it would or should and you don’t know what to do about it, but something’s got to change. It may have to do with your relationships in general or even the way you see yourself.
It may have to do with some kind of abuse in your past which you’ve tried to suppress. Even though you’ve tried to suppress it, it affects your feeling of self worth and guilt and your every action is modified because of it. It may be a combination of these things. Whatever it is, it impacts every single thing in your life and even though, for a time, you may not know where you are going, you have no doubt that you want to leave the past and the way things were.
In many ways it’s like a death. The old you (or what you and others perceived to be the old you) has died. And you are feeling all of the emotions that accompany a death—anger, bitterness, grief, pain and suffering. It feels like you are going to have to endure these burdens for the rest of your life. There is no joy in your life. There are no colors—only shades of gray. You are lonely, so lonely. You feel so empty. Life is so desolate.
You learn a lot about who your real friends are during these times of transition. Some people become very critical and judgmental and try to push you back into place. You quickly grow weary of these people (even if they may be technically correct in their thinking.) You know that being totally honest to these people about what you are feeling or experiencing will only bring you grief, reprimand, and pressure to conform. They may love you but they are not good at sensing when to just be quiet and when to speak and what to say when they do speak.
And then there are those who love you no matter what and they know how to minister to you. They are a safe haven in which you can find rest. Regardless of what you’ve done or think or feel, they quietly support you. They are there for you and don’t look down on you or pressure you—no matter what.
They understand (even if you don’t) that you are in transition and that you are searching for truth and reality and that you might even do some stupid things in the process, but they love you and are pulling for you as you find your way out. They understand that who you are in transition is not who you are in the end. They make allowances for you with that in mind.
I think a lot about the loving father of the prodigal son—how he whole-heartedly, lovingly and enthusiastically threw aside any need to scold or belittle or berate his returning son. Unfortunately, not everyone has this kind of father or friend to welcome them back and to help them put things in perspective and in order. Therefore these wandering souls become hardened and bitter. That’s too bad.
Even though the son was returning physically, he was NOT the same person as he was when he left—not even close. He had come to himself. He had made the transition. He was a much more humble and reality-based individual than before. And because his father welcomed him as he did, his life was fuller and more effective. He was a much better mentor to others who were struggling in their lives. He was thankful to have a loving and forgiving father to help him make that transition. That’s the kind of person I am wanting and striving to be. I hope everyone who reads this will strive to be that kind of person as well. That’s the way God has been with us. It’s just the right way. God Bless you as you bless those around you.
Copyright © Dennis Ensor, All rights reserved. (From the book “Texas Pioneer Chronicles: The Life and Times of the Ensor, Kelso & Crim Families Since 1856,” by Dennis Kelso Ensor. Available on amazon.com.) Photography courtesy of Dennis Ensor and Breath of Life Women’s Ministries, All rights reserved.
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