How to Navigate Life Changes & Transitions as a Christian

christian living spiritual growth Oct 16, 2020
life changes and life transitions

Navigating Life Changes & Transitions as a Christian

We naturally go through both good and bad transitions in life. Some transitions and life changes are predictable yet others are unexpected. Changes worth celebrating and changes worth mourning.

Graduation. Marriage. Starting a family. A new job. Moving.

Loss of a loved one. Divorce. A job layoff. Sickness.

With any life change or transition, you probably know by now that any change, whether good or bad, can bring disruption and stress.

And yes, even positive life changes bring stress. If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know what I’m talking about.

But if you have a relationship with God, you know that life with God is a journey. As a Christian, you should expect many changes and life transitions as God uses you and your life for his glory.

Change is good. Change is a necessary part of life. Change shows we are growing closer to who God created us to be and stepping into the plans he has for us.

But how do you navigate all these life changes and transitions? How do you find peace and joy when it seems like your whole life has been turned up side down?

I recently experienced some of life’s biggest transitions at the same time. In the past two months, I quit my job of 6 years, got married and moved. I am still processing the fact that the biggest areas of my life - my career, relationship status and home have all changed.

While these were exciting life transitions for the next season that God had for me, there were days were I had no idea what to do with myself.

The stress I experienced from the never ending to do lists. The overwhelming feeling that I was always behind with everything. The frustration of trying to figure out how to do things that I had never done before while my patience wore thin.

But God didn't leave me hanging. He has a way of speaking to me when I need to hear his voice the most. In a season where my whole life was turned upside down, God showed me a vision.

God showed me that this season of change was like when my purse falls off the table and everything falls out. At first, it’s annoying and frustrating to clean everything up when all the contents of my purse spill out.

But then I realize that I was carrying things that I wasn't supposed to be carrying anymore. I realize that I had been carrying some things that could be thrown out and other things that I just don’t need anymore.

And as I pick up each item to put back in my purse or put the item in its proper place, I am cleaning my purse in the process. As I pick it up again, I realize it’s much cleaner and lighter.

I feel more organized and my purse is easier to carry.

Life changes and transitions can feel like that. At times, we look around and everything has been turned upside down. It feels like chaos and like everything is out of place.

We wonder and doubt how we will ever get through it. We may even wonder if it's worth it, if we should just stay or go back to where we were. 

Everyone knows that moving requires a lot of work. You live in a small apartment and God opened up an opportunity for your dream home by the ocean. But if you aren't willing to put in the work to pack your belongings and move, you won't step into the new dream home that God has for you.

Life transitions often require us to start moving and do some work. But as we take the time to navigate through the change, we are one step closer to the life and plans that God has for us.

We can leave behind the things that aren’t serving us anymore. We can pick up the new things that God has for us.

We can move forward to the blessings and plans God has for us in this new season.

10 Ways to Navigate Life Changes & Transitions as a Christian

No matter what season of transition you are in, below are 10 strategies I implemented in my season of change to step into the season God had for me.

These strategies helped turned my stress into joy. My worries to peace. I pray you feel God’s presence and hear his voice as you take the time today to rest with him in this season.

1) Stay Connected to the Vine

Remaining rooted to Jesus and making God your top priority is more important than ever in a season of change. Staying connected to God, the one thing that never changes, is essential when it feels like everything else is changing around you.

God is your living water. Your daily bread. Your prince of peace. Your helper. Your shepherd. Your internal GPS system, guiding you every step of the way in this season.

If you are tempted to think that you don’t have time for God in a season of change, think again.

The Bible tells us that we cannot do anything apart from Jesus.

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener... Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me… Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” - John 15:1, 4-5  NLT

Yes, you read that right. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing.

In a big season of change or life transition, don’t try and push God to the side. You need God more than ever to give you the strength to get through this season. You need God to thrive in your new season and to bear the fruit that he wants you to grow.

Staying connected to God is essential to navigating any change or transition. If you are struggling with making God a priority right now, check out my blog post, How to Make God Your #1 Priority, on how to make God a priority in your schedule.

2) Find Your Daily Rhythms

No matter what change or transition you find yourself in, it is so important to identify and make time for your daily rhythms.

Your daily rhythms are those activities that you have to do each day in order to feel like yourself. Those activities that refresh you and make you feel good to conquer the day ahead.

Daily rhythms are those things that if you don’t do, you find yourself irritable, grumpy and out of sorts. Think of these daily rhythms as your non-negotiable activities of the day.

What are your daily rhythms?

Write these down and when you find yourself feeling out of sorts or caught up in the chaos of the day, go back to this list and ask yourself if you’ve made time for your daily rhythms.

Hint – Since you already know that you can’t do anything without Jesus, time with God each day should be one of your daily rhythms.

For example, my daily rhythms are the following:

  • Time with God in the morning. Whether I spend my time reading the Bible, in prayer or in worship, my time with God is the fuel I need to start my day.
  • Getting outside in nature. Living in San Diego, my body runs on sunshine and a little time outside in nature gives me the boost I need during the day. As I enjoy the scenery around me and listen to the sound of the birds or the ocean waves, I instantly feel more at peace with my day.
  • Getting some physical activity. We all know that exercise helps reduce stress. You just feel so much better after a work out. Even 20 minutes can make you feel like you can accomplish anything.
  • Eating healthy meals. When I eat good, I feel good. When I eat garbage, I can start to feel like garbage. 
  • Getting enough sleep. If I don't get enough sleep, I feel it all throughout my day. No matter how busy I am, it's not worth sacrificing sleep.
  • Connecting with my husband. Making time to connect with my husband even if it’s just for a few minutes changes everything. Before we were married, a phone call to encourage each other and pray together meant so much to me.

Make time for your daily rhythms in this season of change and you'll feel like you can conquer anything ahead of you.

3) Take Time to Rest and Unplug

In seasons of change, you may be thinking that you don’t have time to rest. How could you possibly take time out of your day to rest when you have a million things to do?!

When everything feels chaotic around us, we must remember that rest is a gift from God. He actually commands us to rest by observing the Sabbath and not doing any work.

It’s like God knew how stubborn and determined we can be that he made rest one of the ten commandments. Rest is a command, not a suggestion!

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” – Exodus 20:8-11

When you are feeling exhausted or burned out during this season of change, remember that you can always sit at the feet of Jesus for true rest.

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28-29 NLT

The key to rest is finding true rest for your soul and resting with God. There are a lot of activities that appear to be restful but can actually leave us feeling more weary and overwhelmed than we were before.

For example, I discovered that I had to take numerous breaks from social media and from my phone. There was so much information and new content at my fingertips and it was all too much for my brain to process.

My brain was already working on overtime processing all the changes I was going through and all the things I needed to do.

After spending hours planning a wedding, scrolling on Pinterest or Instagram looking at more wedding photos and more wedding to dos did not help me rest.

Unplugging from my phone was essential to letting my brain rest and taking a break from my never ending to do list.

4) Don’t Feel Bad Saying No

We tend to overestimate how much we can get done in any given season. We want to be the woman that can do it all and that thrives in all that we do.

We want to be the proverbs 31 woman who has time to cook for her family, make clothes, help the needy, and plants a vineyard.

We as women can wear many hats and sometimes it’s hard to wear each hat with the care and love it deserves.

If you’re going through a major life change or transition, it’s okay to say no and focus on the transition. It’s okay to admit that you don’t have time, energy or capacity right now to take on something new. It’s okay to admit that it isn’t a good time.

When any new requests or demands come in battling for your attention, focus on the transition and don’t feel bad saying no to other things.

God wants us to be faithful with the things that he’s called us too and it’s hard to give our best at something new when we are going through a major change.

"This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful." – 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV

As I planned a wedding and moved over the past month, God spoke to me and told me that it wasn’t the right season to lead a women’s group at my church. I had led the group for the past year and at first I felt guilty for wanting to say no. I felt bad that I would be stepping down and wouldn't be there for the ladies who wanted to grow closer to Christ.

But God reminded me that responsibility goes along with every yes. That when we say yes to something, we have a responsibility to be faithful and steward what that role entails.

God showed me that my first priority was my husband in this season and that I wouldn’t have the time and energy the women deserved.

He also showed me that so many opportunities out there appear to be good but can actually distract us from focusing on the things that God wants us to focus on.

God showed me that for every yes I give, I must ask myself what I am saying no to in return.

In this season of change, don't feel bad saying no. Keep your focus on God and what he is calling you too in this season.

5) Ask for Help

We were not created to do this life alone and God will often bring people in our lives when we need them the most.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV

During seasons of change or life transitions, don’t be afraid to ask people for help. Be open to receive their help, love and prayers when you need it most.

If you are normally the person who is always there for your friends and loved ones, it may feel awkward asking for help when you are always the giver.

Learn to receive my friend! God wants you to receive the blessings he has for you.

There were times that I tried doing a lot of the wedding planning by myself but my wise, loving bridesmaid reminded me that just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to plan a wedding.

I also realized it was okay to ask for help at church and to ask others to help cover for me on my volunteer team when I would be gone with the wedding. The church is made up of a body of believers and God has prepared and gifted others to step up and help in times of need.

Don’t try and navigate this season of change by yourself. Pray and ask God who you can reach out to for help. That’s what community and Christian friends are for.

Whether it’s packing boxes, planning the center pieces or asking someone for their advice, don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones around you for their help.

6) Take Time to Enjoy the Celebration

As I was engaged and planning a wedding, everyone kept telling me to enjoy the season and enjoy being engaged.

The more I got into wedding planning, the more I doubted how I was supposed to enjoy this season of trying to plan a wedding in only 3.5 months during a national pandemic. If you are a bride getting married this year, I feel for you. Check out my blog post, Trusting God When Planning a Wedding Doesn't Go As Planned, for encouragement on how to trust God as you plan your wedding.

How does anyone enjoy planning a wedding during the worst time to plan a wedding ever?

By taking the time to celebrate. Celebrate the transition or milestone. Celebrate with your loved ones around you.

As Christians, God calls us to celebrate and enjoy life. 

So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 8:15 NLT

God wants us to take the time to celebrate. He created celebration. He created fun and he wants us to have some! Just like Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, what is the point of life if we don’t take the time to enjoy it?

So whatever the life transition you are going through, take the time to celebrate. If you’re moving or leaving a job, plan a going away party.

If you’re getting married, let your loved ones spoil you with all the celebrations from the engagement party, bridal shower and bachelorette party.

Take the time to celebrate even smaller milestones. Aced that exam? Celebrate. Lost those 10 pounds you have been working so hard to lose? Celebrate. Finished a bible study with your girls? Celebrate.

7) Keep a Gratitude Journal

My number one prayer request during my season of change was for more peace and joy. While I was excited for all the life changes God had for me, it was a season full of things that had to get done but were less than enjoyable. 

While I was excited to get married, I was not one of those brides that enjoyed planning all the wedding details. 

While I was excited to move into my very first home with my husband, I was not excited to pack and move all my stuff.

Seasons of change and life transitions often require hard work and God showed me that his blessing was on the other side of the hard work.

God showed me how to have a heart of gratitude and to focus on the end goal. He also reminded me that the key to receiving God’s peace is to pray about everything with thanksgiving.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Having a heart of gratitude unlocks God’s peace. The more we praise God with thanksgiving, the more we will feel his peace.

God also tells us to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances.

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Notice that God tells us to give thanks in ALL circumstances, not just the circumstances that are going our way or the ones that are easy.

As you thank God for the season you are in and all the things you get to do to move one step closer to the blessing he has for you, get ready to receive his peace and joy in the process.

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8) Give Yourself Grace

We know that God is a loving God, full of grace and mercy towards us, yet it can be difficult to give ourselves grace when we need it most.

Sometimes we overestimate the time and energy needed to navigate this season of change. Other desires, people or goals may get pushed to the side in this season.

We can start to feel bad for not giving as much time or attention to other things. We may feel frustrated that we aren’t achieving the goals we wanted.

But God tells us that his power works best in our weaknesses.

“Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

So give yourself grace if things aren’t going like you had planned. Give yourself grace if things are falling behind schedule.

Surrender your feelings to God and admit that you need his help. After all, his power works best in our weaknesses and he wants us to ask him for help.

Embrace the season of change that you are in and start giving yourself grace.

Adjust your goals to get back on track once you’ve come out of the season of transition.

9) Make Time for the Things You Enjoy

There will be days that you focus on your to do list and nothing else. When you find yourself consumed with checking things off your list that you really don't want to do, be sure to make time for those things that you actually enjoy.

Plan something in your schedule that you are actually excited about and put it on your to do list if you have to.

During days that were full of wedding planning and packing boxes, setting aside some time to just read on the beach helped me relax. Sure, I could have spent that hour packing more boxes, but taking the time to relax helped me recharge and made the rest of the day more enjoyable.

There will be some things that you don’t have time for in this season but make sure you are still setting aside time to do the things that bring you joy.

I was so grateful to have a husband who helped in the wedding planning process but there were some days that we needed to get away on an adventure or date night and just enjoy each other’s company without talking about the wedding.

Once again, God wants us to celebrate and enjoy life so don’t forget to make time for some fun in this season of change.

10) Pray about EVERYTHING

In seasons of transition, it’s easy to start worrying about everything. All of the details and things that must get done and all of the things that could go wrong. 

When I planned a wedding during COVID, you bet a lot of worries came to mind.

But God’s word tells us what to do with worry. When we find ourselves worrying, we must surrender it in prayer to God.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." – 1 Peter 5:7 NIV

God knows what we need and he tells us we don’t need to worry about the things of everyday life. If God takes care of the birds and the beautiful lilies of the field, why wouldn’t he care for you, his beloved daughter who he loves so much?

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." - Matthew 6:25-34 NLT

I found that I had to surrender and cast my worries to God every day. Each day brought new worries and I found myself constantly casting these worries to God.

I reminded myself that God cares about both the big and small things. He cares about the details. If we care about it, he cares about it.

Don’t choose not to pray about something because you think it’s so small that it doesn’t matter. God wants you to pray about EVERYTHING.

And when you start turning your worries into prayer, you’ll receive God’s peace knowing that God is in control.

Do You Want to Strengthen Your Relationship With God?

Learn how to grow closer to God and strengthen your relationship with him with this free Spiritual Goals Worksheet. With this worksheet, you'll be able to identify and learn how you can grow spiritually in 10 different areas.

Related Blog Posts

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Trusting God When Planning a Wedding Doesn’t Go as Planned

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With Love,

Erin Elise

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