Updated: Mar 2, 2022
Two quick notes –
First, I want to acknowledge the horror happening in Ukraine. I can’t imagine the level of fear and isolation this country might be feeling right now. Let’s take a moment to #StandwithUkraine and #PrayforUkraine.
Second, thank you for reaching out after my last blog post. I was moved by your outreach and also by how many are experiencing similar feelings of loneliness. This led me to research a little more, and I found that 3 in 5 Americans – or 61% (!) – classify as lonely. If you want a deeper read about chronic loneliness, I include a couple of links at the end of this post.
You are not alone! -Xo, Anna
I forgot how much I love using Airbnb. It's usually cheaper than a hotel and you get the bonus experience of temporarily escaping into someone else's home.
I recently stayed at one in Milwaukee, and I felt like I was transported to a magical library in a secret fairy garden. It was one of the coolest, most eclectically-decorated places I’ve seen, with quotes pinned all around the house. One that caught my eye was a little hand-written note in the hallway:
"Many speak of opportunities - ‘When one door closes, another one opens.’ But rarely do they speak about the hallway. The transition, the in-between where you are and where you are headed. The hallway doesn’t have to be scary, dark, endless confusion. It can instead be a space for massive transformation, great memories, and peace.”1
I think there’s something to this.
In Part 1 of this post, I mention our tendency to measure our happiness by milestones, like getting married or a new job. But… what if life is really lived in the transitions we experience, and the milestones are actually the moments in-between? How would viewing life like this change it?
I believe the way we handle transitions makes all the difference.
As some of you know, I grew up dancing… on teams, stages, in studios, and even teaching in school classrooms. All those years of sweat, joy, and occasional injury have taught me that perfection just doesn’t exist. There’s no perfect dancer, and there’s no perfect performance. But, you can strive for it. And once in a blue moon, you can sure come close to it.
As a performer, when you’re in flow, you feel it. The dance looks as good as it feels. From the stands, it feels as good as it looks.
And when everyone is skilled, what sets apart a good show from a great one, is the transitions.
Transitions are the fibers of seamless storytelling.
Next time you watch a live performance, or even a TV show, pay attention to how the action moves from scene to scene, song to song.
An example of this is when a number comes to an end. The dancers strike their last pose and move on. But there will be one performer who lingers a little longer in the pose, just before joining the others. Blink and you might miss it. In all my years of doing theatre and dance, no one taught me this technique; it’s something I’ve come to notice. It’s the little golden thread that keeps everything connected and flowing smoothly.
Transitions are usually what gets choreographed last in a performance, or edited afterwards “in post," and they are usually afterthoughts in life too.
But what sets apart a good life story from a great one, are its transitions and how we handle them.
Maybe you’re not good with change. Or waiting. Or finding ways to feel unstuck. So, how do you move forward gracefully?
A small mental shift can help.
The ABIDE app has tons of free, short biblical meditations. One of them is called Positioned for Transition. It states:
“In order for God to work new miracles in our lives today and in the future, we must let go of things that are keeping us from moving forward. We must be positioned for transition… Satan wants us to focus on our past sin, much like a helpless animal stuck in a pool of quicksand. God, though, wants to rescue us. He is ready to do a new thing in your life (Isaiah 43:18-19). Here’s the question: Are you ready for it?”
A similar message popped up when I was journaling God’s words to me:
“Let me orchestrate the events of your life in My timing. Let go of that burden and let Me.”
My burden? The discomfort of the sitting in the unknown of being:
- Single since my last relationship ended in 2019
- In-between day jobs since 2020
- On the verge of booking bigger TV roles since changing agencies in 2021
Maybe your burdens have you:
- Hoping to make a new circle of friends or meet the person of your dreams
- Praying for a new job opportunity or complete career change
- Holding onto what feels like the last shred of your unfulfilled dream
What can you let go of, mentally?
Maybe it’s the need to control your situation.
Maybe it’s the pressure to cultivate certain outcomes or relationships.
Maybe it’s the guilt or shame you’re harboring for even feeling lost or alone.
If so, know you’re not alone.
“One of the deepest of all human longings is the longing to belong.”
That’s according to author John Eldredge. He goes on to say:
“Loneliness might be the hardest cross we bear. Why else would we have come up with solitary confinement as a form of punishment?”2
Henri Nouwen, a Dutch Catholic priest, professor, and writer, encourages us to release resentment and embrace the pain.
"If mourning and dancing are part of the same movement of grace, we can be grateful for every moment we have lived… We can learn to see our remembered experience of our past as an opportunity for ongoing conversion of the heart."3
Whatever you’re going through, it helps to remember it’s just a phase, a hallway that’s leading us to something better. (And sometimes the hallway can be beautiful itself).
I'm constantly reminding myself of this. I am still learning to be more graceful. But I’m starting to understand that if I take the time to enjoy the transitional periods, then I'll look back and realize I'm taking the time to enjoy life itself.
More info on loneliness and ways to prevent and overcome it: https://www.betterup.com/blog/loneliness
1 Author Unknown, but I found out the note was left by one of the Airbnb guests - thank you for sharing, Krista!
2 Copyright Epic by John Eldredge
3 Copyright Turn My Mourning Into Dancing by Henri Nouwen