The Symptoms of Transition

Transition is defined as the process of changing from one state or one condition to another. The keyword in that definition is “process”. Transition is a process. Over the past few months, I have been approached by people who are very perplexed about where they are in their life, business/career, family or ministry. As a counselor, I always ask people to tell me what is going on so that I can get a more accurate picture of what’s they are dealing with. When they are finished giving me the details, my answer has usually been: “You’re experiencing the symptoms of transition.”

The only way that I can tell someone that they are experiencing these symptoms is because I’ve experienced them before and have successfully walked through seasons of great transition in my life. I’m in such as a season right now as it relates to several areas of my life! Life is full of change, inevitable shifts. Heraclitus is quoted as saying, “The only thing that is constant is change.” We cannot escape change. Whether or not you survive transitions with your sanity still in tact is contingent upon your awareness of what is going on in your life. You must be able to recognize the symptoms. Here are a few:

  • Frustration. Transition always begins internally before it manifests externally. Remember that is a process. People who are experiencing transition can often be very frustrated people, which causes them to be extremely irritable at times. The dilemma is caused by the fact that you want to be comfortable. Where you currently are was once comfortable for you. However, now you are experiencing what I like to call “a Divine discomfort” about where you are and you are being challenged to shift.
  • Troubled. In addition to being frustrated, people who are in transition are often troubled. This is not an inward trouble like frustration, but an outward trouble. This trouble is brought about because the people around you are subconsciously aware that you no longer fit where you are. You don’t belong there with them now. They do not have the conscious awareness and insight enough to understand that you are shifting, but they do have enough sensing to know that something about you is changing and this causes “trouble in the camp”. Listen, nothing moves us like trouble! In my first book, “Dream Again: The Journey Toward Destiny”, I described trouble as “contractions that push us toward our destiny.” Just like a baby in a mother’s womb who is comfortable in one season, there comes another season where it can no longer remain in that place of comfort because there is an entire world on the outside for it to see and explore. It takes trouble [contractions] to birth a baby out of the womb [a comfortable place] and into his or her destined place [the world]. I won’t preach that; go buy the book on Amazon! (Shameless plug)
  • You become overly critical. If you’re anything like me, you’re already analytical and a deep thinker anyway. However, when you’re in transition, your analytical side goes into overdrive to the point where you become critical of EVERYTHING—and you don’t necessarily enjoy it. Often you are in the environment that you have to function in—your job, church, family, etc., and you have to self-correct yourself so that you don’t become so critical that your effectiveness becomes hindered. You, my friend, are in transition, headed for full shut down mode.
  • The final symptom is being burnt out. Being burnt out is very different from being tired. Being burnt out is categorized by complete exhaustion due to being overworked. “Tired” simply means you need rest and/or sleep; burnt out speaks to the need for a shift in thinking, strategy and operations. When you are burned out, you have been used to your maximum use and you need a complete recharge. You’ve been consumed. Many people are working and functioning but they are depleted. This is a very dangerous place to be emotionally, psychologically, physically and spiritually. This is definitely an indication to you that it is time to shift and transition because you are surviving off of “fumes”. Burn out is also an indication that you should have shifted a long time ago and you’re past your season in a particular place! [Many are burnt out because they have no BOUNDARIES; but that’s another blog post…]

One thing that you must understand is that transition is good. Change is good. Moving on is good. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel guilty about making a decision to move. The longer you stay where you are, the longer you will delay Divine destiny. I always say this: seasons don’t ask our permission to change. They just change! If you refuse to shift with the seasons, you’re the one who will have on a mink coat in the summer time and shorts in a blizzard.

I will also add this to balance it all out. Transition does not mean that you cut everyone off. Transition does not even always mean that you have to leave. Sometimes it means that you need to make a change where you are. It does not mean that you walk away from everything—your job, your ministry, your company, your marriage, etc. It can mean that, if that’s how your transition is defined, but it does not have to mean that.

Communication is very vital in a transition. Once you recognize that you are indeed in a process of transition, you need to communicate with those around you. There are some that will shift with you and there are those that will not. Either way, God is not the author of confusion, but of peace [1 Corinthians 14:33]. There is so much peace in communication and transitioning correctly!

Stay prayerful about your process of “becoming”. You must shift with a purpose and with a PLAN. Your emotions still can’t rule and master you even though you’re experiencing the symptoms of transition. You need a plan and you get that by being centered in prayer. Do I stay here or do I go? Can this environment accommodate what I’m becoming? Am I shifting IN or am I shifting OUT? Only your maker can reveal that to you. You don’t want to be stuck, stagnant and bound because of the opinions of people or the negative core beliefs you have about yourself. How tragic will it be for a butterfly to remain a caterpillar?