Changing from one form, state, activity or place to another—anticipated or not-anticipated—engenders tough questions and challenges. Since most of us are in some kind of transition, these are urgently relevant to our lives. As we move to another key question that surfaces in transitions, let’s quickly review.
The seemingly upside-down order of the Stages of Transitions further complicate our desire to understand what’s going on internally.
2. Neutral Zone
3. The Beginning
The first stage is ending something familiar—a “known” in our lives. We move into an unknown “neutral zone” where we are trying to re-establish our equilibrium. In the process of establishing that equilibrium, questions or themes emerge. Themes that we thought we had addressed and answered before (and likely have). But during each new transition these same questions resurface. They look new to us at that point, and in a very real sense are new. We’ve not been in this chapter of our lives before, asking these questions. We have a different perspective and so are likely to respond a bit differently.
As we move from the Neutral Zone into the Beginning of something new, we see 7 themes that reoccur throughout life.
1. Do I BELONG?
2. Do I MATTER?
3. Do I have a reasonable amount of CONTROL?
4. Am I COMPETENT?
5. Do I have MEANINGFUL ATTACHMENTS?
6. Do I have a sense of WHO I AM?
7. Does my life have MEANING?
Please refer to prior blogs for more discussion on the first five questions. The previous blog was 4. Am I Competent? 5. Do I have Meaningful Attachments? This blog will focus on
6. Do I have a sense of WHO I AM?
A woman who has derived her role primarily as a wife, will find the foundations of her life shaken if she faces divorce or widowhood. A person defined by a specific job or role, after losing that job may find she/he feels very lost. A pastor’s wife who plays the keyboard in worship at previous churches finds someone else has that role in this new place. Who am I in this new place?
Typically I can gain a sense of who I am through others, those with whom I live and serve. This may be tied to my responsibilities, job, title, relationships in a specific location. When any of those change—as they certainly did through our move across the U.S.—we find ourselves in a place of looking for the answer to this penetrating question, again. For me that meant looking deeper into my soul this time to find the answer—since those around me didn’t even know me yet.
I was drawn back to a key Scripture which had great significance at several previous junctures in my life. I noted in Exodus 3-4
- God revealed himself to Moses only “When the LORD saw that he (Moses) had gone over to look…” at the burning bush. The bush had been burning, but only when Moses realized the bush wasn’t burning up and went over to look, did God speak to him—when God had his attention.
- The first question Moses asked after God announced, “Go. I’m sending you to Pharaoh…” was, “Who am I that I should go…?” We understand that question. When you’ve been called by God, one of the first questions can be, “Why me?” What made you ask me to do this, Lord? I’m not sure I’m qualified. God’s answer to Moses’ question focuses on God’s part in calling Moses: “I will be with you.”
- The second question Moses asked, “Suppose I go…and they ask, ‘What is his name?’” In other words, what if they ask me, “Who sent you? What authority do you have in this, Moses?” Or “who do you think you are to tell us to go?” God’s answer, “I AM WHO I AM” once again attempts to turn Moses’ focus away from Moses’ qualifications, to who God is.
- Moses’ third question, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me…” is another facet of Moses’ quest of who am I in this new situation? God answers by giving evidence that Moses can exhibit should he need to, that God is the one behind this new Beginning in Moses’ life. Once again, God turns the focus to himself.
- Moses finally blurts out, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I’ve never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Moses’ answer to Who am I? in this situation is—I’m not your guy! I am not qualified. I’m not articulate—certainly not enough to speak to a Pharaoh!
After God’s response to Moses’ evaluation of himself, God repeats his injunction, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” Because Moses’ answer to Who am I? is still different than God’s answer, Moses wraps up the discussion, “…Please send someone else.”
Can you relate? I sure can! How many times, especially in a new situation I look at myself and define “Who I am” apart from who God says I am, and come to a similar conclusion as Moses. Clearly an accurate answer to this question must come from God, as it did for Moses.
The essence of who I am doesn’t change in a transition. What may change is my perception of who I am.
The truth remains: If I know Christ as my Savior, I am a child of God! (I John 3:1)