As the summer winds down here on the last day of August, many of us are going through a relationship transition of one kind or another. Kids going off to school for the first time. Sons and daughters heading off to college. And those of us left behind to face an unfamiliar future where those we love are no longer around as they once were.
Relationship transitions are unique opportunities to bring out the best in us. It’s what today’s episode is all about.
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If you find yourself wanting more from your relationships, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll discover practical principles you can use to experience the life-giving relationships you were made for. I’m your host, John Certalic, author and relationship coach, here to help you find more joy in the relationships God designed for you.
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Now about those relationship transitions I mentioned earlier
“Transition” is a common buzzword you hear in missionary circles these days. They talk about it often because missionaries experience so many of them. Transitions from one culture to another. Countless goodbyes to people we know and love one day, and hellos to complete strangers in another culture the next.
Here’s another thing about transitions. Did you know that in August we have National Single Working Women’s Day, Dog Appreciation Day, and Middle Child Day? And August 31st, the day this episode first airs, we have National Relationship Transitions Day.
I think about it every year at this time when I recall how a long time ago we sent our kids went off to kindergarten for the very first time. And then years later when they left home for college. Those were days filled with both sadness and joy, mixed all together – like a ham and cheese omelet stuffed with broccoli.
Other examples of relationship transitions
More recently I saw joy and sadness at a high school graduation party this summer for a friend’s son. She talked about the joy of her son completing high school on such a high note. But then her eyes teared up at the mention of him leaving home for college in a few weeks. “I don’t even want to think about it,” she whispered.
Then there are those nostalgic Facebook posts popping up of moms and dads commenting on sending their kids off to kindergarten for the first time, and how it seems like just two months ago when they brought them home from the hospital as infants.
I recently heard another example of relationship transitions on a podcast, when out of left field the host reflected on how melancholy she was feeling thinking about sending her twin daughters off to college for the first time.
Relationship transitions like these are happening all around us.
Children go through relationship transitions themselves
I had an interesting conversation with our twin grandsons recently. They're both 20 now and in college. When I asked them what was the most difficult transition they faced in advancing through their educational career, they surprised me. I thought they would have said from high school to college.
They actually said that was the easiest. The hardest for them was going from elementary school to middle school. That’s been the most challenging transition they’ve faced thus far.
So how do you celebrate National Relationship Transitions Day? How can we use it to bring out the best in us?
If you’re going through a relationship transition yourself
- Remind yourself of the joy during an earlier time in your relationship. Savor memories of past joy. At the same time, develop a “holy anticipation” of the potential joy that could await you in the future.
- Here’s an example of a future joy I would never have anticipated. It happened yesterday: The story of my grandson Grant whipping out his credit card to buy me a cup of Starbucks coffee at the mall. It was a complete role reversal for a moment.
- More moments like this will come. Be patient. There’s no guarantee, but those you cared for so deeply earlier may likely care well for you in the future.
If someone you care about is going through a relationship transition
Here are a few ideas.
Reach out to a parent of a child getting on the school bus for the first time, and ask how they’re doing.
Call a parent who just got back from taking their kid to college and hauling their boxes of stuff to their first dorm room. “How did it go for you?”
In either case, send a card or note in the mail that says something along the lines of
“I’ve been thinking about you, and praying for you as you process (kids name) heading off to school/college for the first time. I imagine it may be difficult to end one chapter of parenting, and then enter this new unknown one.” Something like that.
In essence, let people you know going through a relationship transition that you're thinking of them, and maybe even praying for them. There’s something comforting in simply knowing someone else knows what you’re dealing with. Let them know you know it’s hard, and that you’re pulling for them.
All of these ideas are examples of Romans 12:15, Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.
Here’s the main takeaway I hope you remember from today’s episode
Relationship transitions are opportunities to care for people by letting them know you’ve been there too, and you know how difficult these transitions can be.
In closing, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about today’s episode. I hope your thinking was stimulated by today’s show, enough to put into practice what you’ve just heard. Reach out to someone in a relationship transition to let them know you care.
For when you do, it will help you experience the joy of relationships God intends for you. Because after all, You Were Made for This.
Well, that’s it for today. If there’s someone in your life you think might like to hear what you just heard, please forward this episode on to them. The link to this episode is JohnCertalic.com/173.
And don’t forget to spread a little relational sunshine around the people you meet this week. Spark some joy for them. And I’ll see you again next time.
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