BY EMMY WATKINS
Anyone who knows me knows that I like the familiar, even in minutia. I reread the same books, watch the same shows, and listen to the same songs for years on end. I like knowing where things are going and how they will end. I like to know how things will make me feel.
As a result, transitions are hard for me. Ironically, I’ve moved six times in the last four years, sometimes for a short stint and sometimes with no idea how long I’d stay. I’ve lived in the Deep South and far north; I’ve lived through blistering Texas summers, muggy Florida autumns, and snow-covered New York winters. I’ve grown comfortable, to some extent, with the rhythm of transition, of always preparing for the next move, of packing up the car and driving away, of answering the question “Where are you from?” with a lighthearted “It’s complicated.”
What I’ve yet to grow comfortable with is reflecting on transition, of accepting and responding to the deep sense of unrootedness that accompanies each move. I like certainty; I like to categorize. I want to be able to call every experience definitively good or bad, to file it away as helpful or harmful. But life isn’t lived in absolutes, and the nature of transition is especially uncategorizable. You cannot call a transition anything else until you have lived through it, if then.
In this transition to Denver, I am uncertain about many things. I am uncertain about how to do my job, how to love my community well, how to pursue justice and peace when even the language is unfamiliar, and how to live faithfully when each day is full of unforeseeable challenges. I am unsure about how I will feel about this move in a month or a year or even tomorrow. I don’t know what comes next.
Transitions have become for me times of great prayer. Instability and change often throw into sharp relief our need for the love of Jesus, and this transition is much the same. Yet when I pray for answers, God invites me to lean into uncertainty—to sit in, rather than shy away from, the unknowns of a stressful job and a newly built community. I am learning that living with so many things unsure is, in fact, a great blessing. To not know is to relinquish control, and to relinquish control is to trust God. How beautiful it is to be uncertain, to trust God with even the smallest details of my day. In giving up control, I am surrendering to God’s call to be present, to rest in the knowledge that nothing is really my own to worry over, not even my time.
In all things, God is faithful, but in my experience, God’s faithfulness manifests in ways I never expected. More than anything else, I am finding comfort in uncertainty, especially in the experience of walking alongside others who are also uncertain. There is immense freedom in this deep trust that God works for our good, even when life is too chaotic to yet see what that good may be. In uncertainty, there is joy; in learning to bake bread, in walking to mass each day, in impromptu dinner conversations and unexpected traffic, I am learning how to truly be present in this transition, to live authentically in messiness and mistakes, to throw up my hands in laughter and say to the Beloved, “I surrender!—Take, Lord, and receive.”
Matthew 16:25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Emmy Watkins (she/her) grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, but left the south to attend Colgate University in upstate New York. After most recently living in San Antonio, she is excited to move to Denver, where there is snow! Emmy has a degree in English and Environmental Studies, and she enjoys reading and writing. She loves kids, cats, and deep conversations about faith.
9/9/2019 05:50:04 pm
Emmy, thank you for reflecting on your transitions. I'm thinking about your: Lean into uncertainty; lean into God. You may not have said it quite that way. It's how I'm remembering it, a fresh perspective. Best to you! Barbara
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