Recently, while traveling through the Milwaukee, Wisconsin airport; having gone through the harried experience of the TSA lines and having been “randomly selected” for more screening; I noticed a big sign hanging from the roof of the waiting area which said, “Discombobulation Area.” It was a simple, identified area where you could stand, stuff your shirt back in your pants; put your belt back on and gather your disheveled bag that the TSA screeners had to unpack and begin to look normal again. Everyone needs an area like that, don’t we?
That word—discombobulation has lived with me in every sense. Having move to North Carolina, after investing our life for twenty years in Colorado, I feel like discombobulation will be my word for 2019.
I just received an email from a remarkable man that I was on retreat with last week who is enrolled in the Potter’s Inn Soul Care Institute. He shared with me some feelings that he is having post-retreat. It is sort of the same thing I am feeling that I want to explore with you here. We have all experienced the normal “high” of the retreat. But there is always the re-entry, that feeling of coming back to the life you left. It’s a feeling of discombobulation.
To be discombobulated is to be confused; it is to be internally shaken to the degree that you feel as if you have lost your equilibrium. It is a sense of being dizzy—a sense of being drunk with too much movement—perhaps too quickly.
Every change in life brings the invitation to experience a bit of a discombobulating feeling. Move to a new city; take a new job; start a new relationship; the death of a long-held dream or try a new church—the result is akin to being discombobulated.
It is that space in life where we are betwixt and between. We are in the “not-yet”. We have not fully crossed over and nothing feels normal—nothing feels right. It is like feeling jet-lagged after a trans-atlantic crossing. You are barely awake; barely aware and feeling totally out of sync.
A few years ago, I wrote a chapter in my book Inside Job called “The Leader’s Transition: Understanding Change.” I’ve pulled that book off my shelves in recent months and find myself going back to it—re-reading some of what I wrote in a more stable, more known, and understood time in my life. I found these words: “A transition is a process of internal adjustments to external changes.”
It all adds up to being discombobulated.
The antidote to being discombobulated is pretty simple. Time. It takes time. It takes time to adjust. Time to settle in. Time to find the stores you like. Time to make a house a home. Time to meet folks who will work their way into our hearts—the way my old friends have done.
But right now---right now is the ache—the miss—the confusion—the grief—the transition.
These words are like lights that show me a bit of the way forward: “Transition is the bridge that leads from the no longer to the not yet. Nobody can predict what that bridge is going to look like. It may be obvious and sturdy, and we may find it easily through the fogs of our bewilderment. Or it may be rickety and clearly unsafe, and we hardly dare entrust our weight to it. The point is, however, that we have to cross the bridge, and as we risk that crossing, we will discover that the bridge itself is our guide and mentor, and it has everything to teach us about the path that lies ahead, beyond the transition. In fact, we will learn much more on that bridge about ourselves, about life, and about God in our transitions than on all the smoother pathways that we journey.”
—Excerpted from The Other Side of Chaos by Margaret Silf
As I write this—I lift of the chalice of my cup to all of you who are my companions on the bridge be it rickety or unsafe. May we all cross well. May the other side call us to the way forward!
mentioned in article: Inside Job by Stephen W. Smith