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Ready or Not: Navigating Life’s Transitions

Updated: Jun 24

moving forward - moving truck. Living the Resurrection.

Somethings are timely because they have a deadline. The sermon is due Sunday morning, ready or not-it’s time! For me, the moving van is coming on Saturday. Ready or not my time as a resident of San Luis Obispo is up. Am I ready to leave these people, this place? Is your congregation ready to move into the future? Turns out, how we leave the present and move into the future isn’t vastly different for a person or a congregation.

A friend asked me how I was feeling about the move. She asked, knowing that acknowledging and articulating feelings is not one of my high skill areas. I started my response with “I don’t know” and then rambled my way through a sentence of two. She smiled and said, “You say you don’t know, but then you named about seven feelings off the top of your head.” Maybe I’m getting better at this feeling thing. My list included heaviness, excitement, grief, nostalgia, resentment, hope and love. One thing I know is that these feelings are for now, not for ever. My feelings about this move will change as time passes.

Feelings exist to help us recognize something about a moment or experience. With a little prodding, they point to a truth. In telling my friend the story of why “love” made my list, I realized that a few dear friends have made it clear that they won’t let a little thing like physical distance separate us. Love isn’t restricted to place; it will move with me.

As comforting as the love of dear friends is, it’s not the only feeling I’m experiencing, there’s also a heaviness over what is lost. That’s where resentment comes in. Leaving our home of 18 years, means I’m no longer in the “prime” of my life: raising kids and establishing a career. I’ve raised and established a while ago. I resist the fact that what I lost, left a long time ago. Our kids haven’t called our house “home” for YEARS. It’s the ghost of their childhood laughter that remains. Selling the house is just the last step.

Ready or not, it’s time.

If you work with a congregation that needs to make a change, your people may be experiencing a similar list of emotions to mine.  It may be clear to you that it’s time for them to change, but are they ready? Probably not. But you can help them.

At Living the Resurrection, we use a strategy called Appreciative Inquiry that teaches how to minimize resistance by taking the best of the past into the future. The struggle is that many people interpret the best of their past as having something to do with an event, a program, or a building. Church pews are full of the ghosts of beloved members who used to worship there but have moved away or passed on. The building holds the memories of when they were present.

Leaving the building or stopping a program or event that a faithful ghost enjoyed is painful for those who remain. Yet nostalgia can motivate people to act in the present. The key to the future is in their stories of the past. You’ll need to listen to the stories of their beloved ghosts and what the building (or program or event) meant to them. You’ll hear nostalgia and maybe resentment that the present isn’t like the past. Listen closely, they’re acknowledging what they’ve lost and identifying what they value. These stories contain the seed of what can grow in the future. More about that in another blog post. For now, sit in the present, sit with the layers of loss, resentment, nostalgia, and love, and know that the feelings are for now, not forever. Their feelings will change as time passes.

For me, one of the things that’s helped me feel ready for this move was writing a liturgy, I wanted a way to thank God for our home, and ask God’s blessing, not just on our future in a new home, but on the family that will come to call our old house, home.  The more I thought about it the more my mind kept repeating Dag Hammarskjold’s famous line:

For all that has been, Thank you!

For all that is to come, Yes!


Creating a ritual, providing a time to name the feelings of the day, to thank God for the past and the present and ask God’s blessing on the future, might help you and your

people inch toward readiness. I offer a version of this blessing to you as a free resource. It’s written in the context of leaving a building that has been home to a family. The building can be a house, or a church. The family can be parents and children or a congregation. It’s a Word file, so personalize it to suit your context.


Click the Free resource button to find: Thank you! Yes!

You'll find other helpful resources there too.

This blog is part three in a series about navigating change.

Part 1 is "Tiptoeing Toward Change"

Part 2 is "Moving Forward"


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