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04 | Grit and Grace in Midlife Transitions: The “Messy Middle” of Transitions

Ah, the joys of uncertainty! Which way forward? Don’t really know? What’s the plan? So fun!

No, that’s not actually true. 😂😂  Nobody likes uncertainty. I’m pretty “certain” of that. 

We talk about some of the most misunderstood parts about transition: the fact that the discomfort is necessary and not necessarily a sign that “something’s wrong.”

The magic is in the messy middle of the transition. Sitting with the discomfort lets us come to terms with what’s ending and have the internal changes that are needed to come to grip with it: changes in perceptions, attitudes, and perspectives. 

It’s counter-intuitive for us to believe that living with the uncertainty in a life transition is a good thing. We don’t like discomfort. Not only is it… uncomfortable… it also feels like something’s WRONG. Wrong with us, with our approach, with our understanding because – if we are doing “it” right, then we would know what we’re doing. Seems logical, actually. 

Life is not a linear story. Not really. It’s chronologically linear, but that’s about it for linearity. We don’t “go” where we think we are going. Have you “ended up” exactly where you expected? Perhaps in some ways you did. In many ways, however, you are not “at” the destination you had expected. 

In fact, I am convinced that God often calls us forward into something new, even while He knows that our expectations are not accurate. Reasons range from “there’s just no way for Me to explain this to you because, no offense, you are stubborn” to “this will be great for you but there’s no way you would ever do it if you knew what it really requires of you.” 

Hope requires acknowledging that we are not “there” yet. We are pilgrims that are “On the way, and we have not arrived.”  That is a place of insecurity and uncertainty. Many times Neo Thomist Joseph Pieper says it’s natural for us to do whatever we can to avoid insecurity. We’ll create security in some form that is not true security, or we’ll shrink back from stepping into that place because we’re fearful of what it means to live there. But hope stands in uncertainty and insecurity: that’s its natural habitat, and where we need it to assist us.  Hope looks forward to the promises of God and places hope in the promises of God. 

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We are Karen and Curtis Herbert, founders of The Catholic Midlife. Our mission is to spark a catholic midlife renewal and help YOU to step into your next season with purpose, hope, and a clear vision for the rest of your life.

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