31st July 2020

Week 14: Reflections on transitions, part 2

Helen Averill reflects on approaching transitions positively, in our virtual wellbeing series

Noun: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another
Verb: undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition
Preparing for change

Most people don’t like change and, as a result, the decision is often only made late – when they feel burnt out and despondent.  Deciding to make a transition earlier gives more opportunities and involves less trauma.  Being sensitive to when it is right to start planning a new future requires proactivity and positivity.  When there is the opportunity, it is helpful to take a step back and think carefully about our values and beliefs, our hopes for the future, and what motivates and interests us.

In preparing for change it is a good idea to think about what we have to take with us in our travel bag.  What strengths, skills and talents do I have?  Understanding who we are and what our experience and training have kitted us out to do is important; so too is understanding what we would be interested to learn and develop.

Something better

Sometimes the transition starts before we can see the end result. We don’t know how long the process will take or what the journey will demand of us.  Getting married or becoming a parent for the first time is a real step into the personal unknown; changing our role is stretching; discerning a vocation and then training for ordination can be a long and arduous transition – but people make those decisions every day.  We are not always certain of the future but there is a conviction that there is something better in that future.

This series of reflections provided by St Luke’s contains many inspirational ideas and tools to support the transition we are all going through, building up mental, physical and spiritual resources to help us face the future. Developing our resilience is key, so that we are not so fearful of the unknown, but rather are sure that we can face whatever comes and will do our best to shape what might be.

 Seeking support in our transition

Embarking on a transition can be daunting.  Having resources to help on the way is vital; family and friends, a spiritual director, a coach, a mentor and, if appropriate, services like the Clergy Transitions Service are all good options.  Everyone needs people encouraging them and cheering them on.  (If you need evidence of that just look at some of the lacklustre sporting fixtures we have seen recently!)

Whatever transition we face, we can make sure we are supported and equipped to deal with whatever the journey brings.  Wherever we go, we take ourselves with us.  What that means, who we are, is up to us: we are not made of rock, we are flexible and we can learn and evolve throughout our lives.

Defining not limiting

I am reading a biography of Clement Atlee, Prime Minister after Churchill in 1945; a quiet man, thoughtful and sometimes described as being rather grey and ordinary next to his more flamboyant predecessor.  Yet it was his government that was responsible for the development of the Welfare State and the founding of the NHS 72 years ago.  Times were very grim after the Second World War but there was a real desire to grasp the opportunity of a new start.  Their experiences may have been defining, but they were not limiting.

As we transition to a future that we don’t yet know, spending time reflecting on our strengths, what matters to us, and what we want to be different, will help us.  We need to focus on what will carry us forward on the journey, what direction we want to choose and be ready to call on others for their support.

Read more in our virtual wellbeing series here

Need more?

The Clergy Transitions Service offers free, confidential, individual support for clergy who feel that they are at a vocational crossroads, or who would like help in reflecting on their current and future ministry. For more information, see https://www.churchofengland.org/clergytransitions or email helen.averill@churchofengland.org

If reading this has led you to want to seek additional support or signposting, please contact:

  • the person in your diocese responsible for clergy wellbeing, or
  • St Luke’s click here or call 020 7898 1700