Transitions, Chaos and the Hope of Order: by ’21 Alumnus Nathaniel

I do not believe there is any singular correct way to transition. 

There is a strange space where we examine what we just stepped out of before we look at what we are stepping into. For me, this space has come while being back in my hometown, Toronto. So what has it felt like to sit in this liminal space? Well, chaotic to say the least.

I have spent the last three days trying to articulate what this transition has been. I have brainstormed, mind mapped, written rough drafts, and none of it has helped. I finally think I understand why. I have been trying to articulate logically something that can only be articulated spiritually and emotionally. I refused to acknowledge the ambiguity, I refused to lean into the unknown. However, isn’t that what faith is? Isn’t that what I’ve been learning this past year? That everyone has a different story and God meets everyone where they’re at, in the particular moments and personal struggles? YES! 

Because the environment has changed, my familiar practices have become very unfamiliar in a different environment. To bring these back and not expect resistance is naive.

Some of the habits I’ve continued post Act Five are daily journaling, prayer, and quiet time. These are areas I know I can find life and joy in, and if I choose to do this, I always come out being better and brighter. It doesn’t always happen at the same time every day, but I try to do it at some point throughout the day, whatever works with my schedule. God’s work in your day-to-day life becomes so much more evident when you take time to pay attention to it. 

Here’s an example. On April 29th I wrote a long journal entry about my struggle during the transition. Following this, I read Psalm 18 and verse 28  rocked my world.

 “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning. My God turns my darkness into light.”

It was everything I needed at the time, and now I repeat those words every day. These are the words that have kept me grounded in this chaotic transition. 

I left Act Five and planned on going to Redeemer. I was certain God wanted me to be a pastor and Redeemer made the most sense at the time. Compared to all the other options, why would I not choose the thing that felt right? I drew my conclusion with all the evidence I had at that time. 

That shifted a few days ago, and this made me angry and scared.  My old vocational desires have been stirred up. For years I knew I wanted to do something with emergency services but I don’t have the science or math courses to get me into paramedic or firefighting. Besides I don’t even want to do that, I want to be in nature and become a kind of wilderness paramedic. At the time I didn’t know what that would look like. If only there was a program where I could do that…

Two days after I returned from Wilderness First Aid training for my role at Coldwater this summer, God dropped Columbia Bible College in my lap. It has an Emergency Rescue Technician program. It’s the emergency work I want, with an option for a second year dedicated to Wilderness Guide Training, a Christian community, and all hands-on experiential learning. Despite my lack of science and math courses, I was eligible!

So with this perfect program revealed to me why was I angry and scared? Well, I had it all mapped out, I knew where I was headed and I didn’t want to tell everyone I had changed my mind about Redeemer. Everything seemed good, and I had a handle on everything. It called my certainty into question. If I was certain God wanted me to go to Redeemer, what else was I certain about that was going to change? What other areas was I going to be humbled in?  What makes me think that God’s ever-changing plan in other people’s lives isn’t going to play out in mine? Why would my life be set in stone? 

In conclusion, it’s becoming more and more clear that if I want to follow God, I have to be open to moving from my ideas and thoughts of what is right, to what God is saying is right.   

The greatest lesson I am learning is that while in transition you won’t always transition to what you think the next step is. I believe that while we sit in a liminal space, we can recognize all the options. That way we aren’t preoccupied with our present situation. Maybe that is the space where we learn the most about where our life is going, in the moments when we aren’t on the move.


– Nathaniel / May 19, 2021

[instagram-feed user=act_five num=7 cols=7 showheader=false showbutton=false showfollow=false imagepadding=0 imagepaddingunit=px]