Transitions: Stepping Forward with Trust
By Pamela Friesen
I remember the day of graduation from my BSN program and the joy of finally reaching my long-awaited goal of entering the nursing profession. There were tears of sadness in leaving classmates who had become family, but also the anticipation of the next steps. I moved to a new city, successfully passed the State Board (NCLEX) exam, and started my first job on a medical floor. I was transitioning from being a student to working as a practicing nurse. The first three months were tough with making many adjustments to the role of an RN, feeling inadequate to apply my new knowledge, and trying to settle into a different living environment. The next years brought more changes: beginning nursing positions, going back to school, moving to another state (culture shock), and launching a career in nursing education. As one who doesn't particularly like change, these transitions were challenging, but were also periods of incredible personal growth.
How do we deal with transitions, these passages from what is familiar and comfortable to what is unknown and maybe frightening? Through the years, I have learned much from Old Testament characters. Joshua is a favorite. In the book of Numbers, the children of Israel were facing the transition from decades of slavery in Egypt to freedom in a new, unknown land God had promised. God directed Moses to send 12 spies to scope out this unseen territory; Joshua and Caleb were among those 12. When they returned, the spies described the bountiful land they had seen, but also reported that the cities were strongly fortified and the giants too powerful to conquer. Joshua's and Caleb's response stood in contrast to the other 10 scouts. “Let's go at once to take the land...We can certainly conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30, NLT). Later, as Joshua guided this unruly people, he maintained complete trust in God's power, eventually leading them into their new homeland. He was one of the few who successfully made the transition. His faith made reaching the goal possible.
My response to transitions has varied—sometimes embracing the change and looking forward to new challenges, and at other times being reluctant and shrinking back like the 10 spies, wondering if God really meant it when he said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, ESV). There are no easy answers for how to handle life's passages, but we find God's directive in Joshua 1:9 as the source of hope and inspiration during change: “...Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (NLT). Joshua was one who stepped forward courageously, believing God was going to give him everything he needed to succeed in his work. God wants us to walk with him into new challenges and phases of life. As we keep moving forward with him, he gives us strength, courage, and freedom from fear.
Like Joshua, I am facing a transition. Thirty-two years have passed since the beginning of my nursing education and experiencing the joy of working with undergraduate and graduate students. Now, I'm entering a new phase called retirement! Just as I encountered many unknowns as I entered nursing practice and then nursing education, I again face an uncharted chapter. God promised to go with me, to be faithful to me, and to bring new meaning and purpose that will be equally fulfilling.
Encouragement for Transitions
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, ESV).
“Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NLT).
Farewell from Pam Friesen
In this transition out as column coeditor, I want to thank the JCN staff for the privilege of these 10 years in my role with Student TXT. I also express sincere gratitude to Maureen Juarez, Bernita Missal, and Julie De Haan for their partnership in this venture. What a joy it has been to encourage students, nurses in practice, and faculty to share their meaningful stories.