A New Kind of Transition

by mendibpng

(above) Noah, Joe and Jacob after the school play “Almost, Maine!”

Transition is this wildly unpredictable Thing that happens constantly to us. In our 20 years of marriage, we’ve lived in over 10 different locations in three different countries. We travel between our village home and Ukarumpa home 3-4 times a year when we are in PNG.  We’ve done the Moving Transition many  times and we usually know what’s coming…

a week of chaos and misery on either end
challenging travel
lots of preparation (food, homeschooling materials, computer updates)
anxiety and stress
heightened emotions
goodbyes and grieving
reverse culture stress


anticipation of seeing friends again
a chance to use the transition for good (and reestablish good habits)
purging and try to make a stab at a more simple existence (this has been elusive, but without transitions it would be completely unattainable).

However, we are now at the precipice of a transition we’ve never had before: launching Josiah into his new life as a college student/adult. In the past two years, he has proven that he’s ready for this. He capably makes all of his own decisions and manages his own schedule. He processes hard questions in an emotionally intelligent way. We’ve raised him, and the rest of his life is up to him.

But, as with most transitions, this one comes with plethora of emotions and sometimes they come all at once. At other times, there is just an overwhelming amount of one or another. If I had a picture for my emotions at this point, it would look like a child’s scribble. Lots and lots of colors. No real pattern. No easy answers.

In the past decade, I’ve worked hard to notice my emotions, be authentic and tell the truth to others. However, there is still the stubborn independent part of me who refuses to allow negative emotions to surface or to tell the truth to myself.  One of my best friends has noted that if I say “I’m okay” enough times, it’s an indication that I’m really not. So as this transition for our first child to college begins, I’m admitting to myself that I’m sad.  But alongside the sad comes other emotions: happy, excited, proud. I have moments where I think my heart is going to burst when all five of my children are together, laughing, giving advice to each other and debriefing their days. I know that in a little less than 9 months, we’ll be be back here in PNG with only 4 kids around our table.

Joe’s a grown man, I know that. But there’s a bit of loss that comes with this transition that is more costly than the others we’ve experienced thus far in our missionary career. We’re preparing for all the lasts for a while: last birthdays, Thanksgivings, Christmases, and most of all what I’ll miss is the daily sight of him and being able to know how The Things in his life are going.  I’ll miss making his favorite meals for him and trying to trick him into eating breakfast.

But, most of all, I want to savor the time we’ve got left, and be thankful for the opportunity we have to have a short furlough to get him settled into his passport country.  I’m thankful he’s going to a school that has the degree he feels called to study, and that he has family and friends who will look after him when we can’t be there for him.

In the quiet moments when I start to feel sad, I want to focus on these words of David:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.

These nine words are what keep me from being a perpetual martyr. I don’t need to feel sorry for myself, because God is GOOD. He will sustain us through this next transition, as He has done through every single other one. He’s got Joe, as He’s often reminded me. He’s our counselor, comforter and friend, and as we mourn, He will lift us up.

He is Good.

He’s got this.


7 Comments to “A New Kind of Transition”

  1. “…leaning on the everlasting arms. …”. Savor the moments; share the excitement and anticipation, Thank God!! for email and Skype, and Yes!!!! “God Is Good, All of the Time”. We launched 4; ‘gave them “roots and wings”, they gave us Highs and Lows and everything inbetween, but “…through it all…” there was the love and support of the Family of God, and the unflagging Love of our Lord himself. Yesterday, our 54 yr. old first-born came home to love on and support his Dad, when he knew that his Mom would be getting Plenty of attention this weekend; it was the best Mother’s Day gift our son could have given us!

  2. Great post!!! You’re such a good writer, and very authentic. 🙂 I love you, I love this. I forwarded to my parents, knowing they will be so proud of Joe too! Especially his old teacher. 😉 Carrie


  3. Sad tears & happy tears. May he encounter a crazy wonderful group of friends who will love him until HIS kids head off to college!

  4. Extremely encouraged, Mandi, for your example of processing this tough chapter. It’s what we prepare them FOR but are ourselves unprepared for in terms of facing the emotions that go along with these experiences. God is good.~Mary Walker 

  5. I love this! What a privilege God has given Joe, to grow up in such a loving & supportive family–with lots of fun times along with the hard. I just wish that in the comment above, Carrie had referred to Joe’s “FORMER” teacher, rather than”OLD” teacher. Oh, well…can’t have everything. 😉

  6. What a thoughtful post, Mandy. I so agree that the transition to adulthood is not easy for a mom to figure out. Ethan is living at home and going to college/working which ar first I might have thought would be easier, but now I think it just brings a different set of challenges. I especially liked what you said about the mixture of emotions it brings. Even with our oldest home I fluctuate between proud and thankful for the young man he’s becoming, and anxious, fearful, and helpless because he’s making his own life decisions and we can “only” pray, support and guide now. I’m so glad you get to settle Joe in and pray you’ll have peace that passes all understanding in the midst of everything else!

  7. Thanks for sharing this! Your transparency touched my heart. We too are facing some transitions and the struggles that come with them. Thanks for the reminder that He’s got this.

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