I write this blog post as I start my application process for my Swiss Visa.
3 months ago I drove my little old yellow car from the Black sea coast of Romania to Burtigny, Switzerland. That day, as I crossed the border, I felt a pop and burst of emotion — I’d made it to Switzerland. Partly because my car had actually made the 2,700-kilometre drive (my mechanic friends weren’t sure could make it). And so I experienced what felt like bursting through a bubble into the reality of a new season. I was now physically in the land of my new beginnings.
Back in April when I’d returned to Romania from finishing my Author’s training school, I’d felt God say, “It’s time to step up and into.” That lead me on a journey of processing with God and my YWAM leaders in Romania what this ‘word’ meant in reality.
The journey from that first word to today is a process of transition — “to change from one form to another, or the process by which this happens.” [dictionary.cambridge.org] Some transitions can be easy or natural progressions like moving desks in the office or moving up a year in high school. Others can have massive consequences like moving countries or getting married. But the process you need to go through mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally follow the same pattern.
So what did I do?
You know change is coming, whether it’s seen from far off giving lots of time to prepare or it surprises you and you have to just react.
In April, I just knew things needed to change in response to God’s word and so started to talk to God and my leaders to discover what and how things were to change. I can be quite organised and detailed when I need to be, but at the start of an unknown change, you don’t have a clear end goal. So my doing process was to take time with God to hear His ideas and plans, after all, He was the one who initiated this change.
- I set up meetings with my leaders to start processing and praying with them.
- I asked my friends and supporters back in Scotland to pray for me.
- I look extra time with God to pray specifically into what’ up and into’ meant.
- This lead to a proposal of changing practically what I would do with my working time with YWAM at local and non-local levels – focusing on the leadership development of young leaders.
- I submitted to my leaders my proposal and what they would hear from God in response
- I talked to other influential people in my life, my church back home and other leaders outside of Constanta. To process the bigger picture too and hear their outside perspective.
- Make a big-picture list of the different areas you need to work on – then break it down into smaller detailed areas. So you don’t forget the essential details or spend mental energy carrying around details you need to remember. If you’re not good in this or don’t have a clue what needs to be taken care of, ask for help. I had a few friends in Constanta and Switzerland that helped me navigate how to close off in one place and prepare for the next.
- If you’re not sure, google it – seriously, why spend time trying to figure out how to do something when you don’t know the facts. The internet is a huge help in providing the information to make better decisions.
- Whether you like to plan ahead or not. Having a plan and time frame enables others to help you when they have time; see possible problems; work on solutions and most of all, reduce stress. Only reacting to the things right in front of you will cause more stress than needed in an already stressful time.
- Keep a notebook with your random thoughts, ideas and questions. So when you’re working on something else, you can take a quick note of that other thing you’ve just remembered.
- Think outside the box – it’s a new season you’re moving into, so just doing things the way you did them before won’t always work.
I took extra time to spend with God, asking Him about what it should look like, what my new focus should be….
- I surrendered to His plans and timing
- I trusted Him that He had a bigger picture which in time would make more sense and in His character of being who He says He is and a good Father with good things for His daughter.
- When my leaders weren’t getting the same things I was, I went back to God to have Him confirm what He was saying and bring an understanding of why my leaders were hearing differently.
- I took the opportunity to get some prophetic prayer from a trusted group who didn’t know about my processing situation, which brought confirmation and encouragement.
- Take time to dream with God – this is a new season with new possibilities and surprises, what else is God wanting to say to you, or do for you. Be open for the unexpected joys.
Depending on how big the transition is will depend on which levels these need to be worked through. If you’re staying in the same location, your friends will still see you. But if you’re moving cities/ countries, this needs more attention and time to do well.
- Share with trusted friends/ spiritual mentors: I shared what my heart and emotions were going through so I could keep my emotions in a healthy place. Being vulnerable with them and God about how I was feeling that day/week helped me keep from being overwhelmed by unknown possibilities.
- Keep in mind, the enemy would love to take advantage of us when he sees the potential opportunity to distract or limit what God wants to do. Because Satan doesn’t want us to be more fruitful. So bring emotions, reactions and responses to God to find what’s true and what needs to be banished.
- Change brings death to the old that needs to be acknowledged and given time to cherish and let go of.
- Saying goodbye can be hard. When you’re leaving somewhere, your everyday relationships are going to change. You’re not going to see your colleagues/ friends, maybe even family as much as you do now. They may start to pull back early in response to your news as they protect their heart (subconsciously) as you’re leaving. Make time to say goodbye depending on the depth of relationship and what your new can allow you to stay connected.
- Say the things you’ve been meaning to share – the person who’s been such a blessing to you, the one who’s inspired your life… This is your chance to bring a word of encouragement and thanks in person.
- Make time to go to the places which have meaning for you, your favourite spot in nature, coffee shop, restaurant. Savour a time there where you’ve made memories and be thankful.
- Give your friends time to process the change that you’re bringing on them – it’s not just you who is going to be affected by your leaving.
- Take a day off a week. You need to be able to recharge and relax. A transition takes time and there will always be something to do. So take a day a week where you don’t do anything related to this whole process. Sleep in, go out with friends, have fun – but don’t work on this. Your entire body needs the break.
Physically / Practically
If you are moving up a year in school or to another part of the office, it doesn’t take much time to move your things to a new locker or desk. Moving house or country is a whole other ball game.
From the time of from knowing I would be leaving Constanta to the date I actually drove out the city there were a lot of things I practically needed to do.
- Ask for help – many hands make light work. So if you have to move houses, get friends to help you pack and move.
- If you’re downsizing and hate making decisions as to what to take or leave, get a few close friends to help you work out what you need, love and bless someone else with.
- Go for a walk. Getting outside, breathing fresh air and seeing nature, will refresh you and give you perspective. Plus just sitting thinking will stagnate your body and then your mind. So get up and get moving to re-energise body and mind.
- Do a little bit every day. Packing takes time – pack the things you don’t need now until you only have the bare essentials for the last day. Be generous with the amount of time you allocate to packing & moving.
On the other side of the transition
When you’ve moved to your new place — take time to Be. Now does it feel, what new things do you see, what do you smell, what do you hear? Notice what’s different and appreciate what’s the same. It’s good to acknowledge what’s the same and what is different on all levels. Find your new centre with God in this place. This will help ground you
Then give yourself time to settle in, make new friends, find out the new routines or expectations others will have for you.
Explore your new surroundings. Yes, routines are great, but this is a new season, a new place, a new adventure. There could be a fantastic coffee shop around the next corner or a hidden spot in the park – go find them, ask locals their favourite places and try them out. Embrace the joys to be found in the little things so you can make yourself at home as soon as you can.
Give yourself grace – change on many levels takes energy, so don’t fill each day with too much like you usually do – you’re finding your new normal.
After being here in Switzerland for 3 months now, I have made a new home, found some places to just be with God and have learnt a whole lot of new things about Swiss culture and the place I now call home. But it takes a least a year to figure out a new place and experience the different seasons a location goes through. But my heart and spirit are so thankful that here is indeed the place which enables me to set up and into. Stepping into new leadership responsibilities and releasing to do what God has called me to do with helping young leaders become who God’s called them to be. It’s exciting and peaceful all in one. I am thankful that God is faithful to do what He says He will do and has given me more than what I need to do what He’s called me to be.