You know that feeling of seeing your best friend for the first time in a long time? You have a million things to say, questions to ask, topics to discuss, but you are quiet for a moment, soaking in her presence, but also realizing you just don’t know where to start.
That’s how I feel with you today.
I’ve missed you, Lipstick Gospel. So much has happened, and I have so much to tell you. It’s hard to know where to begin.
My dear friend Ally has a phrase she uses often. When she’s deep in thought, or going through something, she describes that place as being “in it.” The mental picture I get when she says this is of being in an adult-sized ball pit, or maybe one of those foam pits you used to dive into as a kid in gymnastics class.
Being “in it” is being in the midst, in the middle, far away from either shore. It’s not staring at a problem from the edge, but submerged in it instead. It’s a brave but challenging place to be.
“In it” is the best way to describe where I’ve been for the last several months. I’ve lost a job, and started a new one. I’ve planned a wedding and gotten married. I’ve changed roommates (now I live with my husband!), apartments, cities, and states.
Everything has changed, and I’m just scratching the surface on the lessons this season has taught me. But I have learned a lot about what to do, and what not to do when you’re right in the middle, when you’re “in it.”
You may be “in it” today. You may be waiting for something to happen, waiting to get somewhere or to get out of somewhere, waiting for something to be over or to begin. And so today I wanted to share a few things that helped me in this last season of transition. I hope it’ll help you too!
The first thing I learned is the importance of being present.
When Carl and I lost our jobs, the first thing I did was to look up plane tickets home. My heart was broken and distance was the one thing I was convinced would make the ache go away. When shared my plan with Carl, he flat-out said “no”. He wasn’t going to let me run, and I’m so glad he didn’t.
So often, our first reaction to change and hurt is to want to avoid it. We want to fall asleep now and wake up when it’s all over. But the most important thing about change is to be present through it.
Change is our best teacher, and if we sleep our way through it, we won’t learn and we won’t grow.
And that’s the second thing I learned during that season of change. We have to let change change us.
Carl and I changed and grew together in so many ways through the months that followed us losing our jobs. As we searched for apartments, and made lists of cities where we could move, as we applied for hundreds of jobs, and stuffed hundreds of wedding invitations, we changed.
We became people who love better — more patient and kind and understanding of each other. We became a better couple — our love time-tested and nuanced in a way that only comes from circumstances you wouldn’t have asked for. And we learned to trust God better, getting to see firsthand that He really does provide like He says He will, even when we doubted that He would.
But we didn’t do any of this alone, which brings me to the third thing I learned about change.
In transitional seasons, don’t isolate yourself. Connect to the people around you.
When we were all let go from our jobs, the first thing we did was go to lunch together at a Mexican restaurant down the street. Carl prayed for us before we ate, and as he prayed, we clutched each other’s hands and cried. 15 of us circled around chips and salsa, broken hearts, and mid-day margaritas. We could have gone our separate ways, but we didn’t.
We clung together — the group of us did. We spent evenings at each other’s houses, and had more dinner parties than we ever had while we worked together. Our friendships that had long hovered near the surface dug deep as we cried together, laughed together, were angry together, and dreamed together. We walked through the transition the same way we entered it — holding hands, praying together, and drinking the occasional margarita.
They were all at our wedding — sitting in one long row and crying their eyes out. They cried because they know. They know us, and our relationship, and what we’ve been through to get to the front of that aisle. They know because they’ve been there too, walking alongside us, holding our hands, and making the journey bearable.
The last thing I learned through this season of change is this: It will get better.
That’s the hardest part of being “in it” — it’s hard to imagine you ever will get out of it.
But you will.
The pain of losing a job, the stress of applying for new ones, packing up one home, trying to create another one, planning a wedding, all of it — you will not be in the middle of it forever.
And that’s so important to remember. It’s the thing that keeps you moving, that keeps you hoping, that keeps you from throwing in the towel. But getting to the other side isn’t always the point. It’s how you get there, and how you change that matters even more.
The transition isn’t completely over for me — I’m still adjusting, moving in, and making friends. But my heart is breathing a big sigh of relief and thankfulness as I look around and notice what that change did in me, in mine and Carl’s relationship, and in my life.
We wouldn’t be here without it — none of this would have happened without the change that shattered all of our plans. And while being “in it” was not easy, I’m so glad for where it brought us.
Thank you so much for your patience and grace for me as I took a month off from writing. I’m so happy to be back.