One of the most helpful books I ever read on the subject of transition was placed in my hands shortly after I’d resigned from my staff position at the church and just before we decided to move back to Chicago. It was, of all things, a business book called Managing Transitions: Making The Most Of Change by William Bridges. Though the book is written to coach businesses through organizational change, it is actually one of thsoe books that seems to apply to just about everyone.
That book put language on a couple of things for me. First, that once an organization enters into its institutional phase, it will calcify or die. There is no way out of this death phase even though the institution may seem on the surface to be very successful and productive. Change and rebirth must happen, even though they run absurdly counter to the force of gravity and the establishment of “success” that catches hold when an organization becomes established.The second thing that this book helped me to understand is that grief is a core part of transition. Mourning the passing of the old regime means wandering through the various expressions of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) on the way to the new.
My old cry used to be “make it stop”. This “make it stop” half-prayer was comprised of: Man, I want the comfort of the way things used to be, even if they sucked that way. I’m angry and sacred that those days are gone. If only I could try harder somehow, things would go back to “normal”. I’m so bummed that things feel so messed up.
In other words, “make it stop” seemed to have all the elements of grief except for acceptance.
So I am discovering that I’m in the market for a new kind of prayer as I navigate transition. Anyone have any good ideas?