The Transitioning Process: Which Stage Are You In?
Onboard the Africa Mercy, we are all in a process of transition. This not only affects our new Crew, but also our returning Crew as well. We are all in a new country, working with new teammates, serving a new culture, adjusting to new leaders, policies, systems, and communication methods.
There is a common journey that most people travel when we experience transition, and it looks something like this:
When we first experience change, we often enter a "Honeymoon" phase where all the differences feel new and exciting.
Over time, however, we can begin to feel our satisfaction level diminish as the differences we are experiencing start to become alarming to us. This is natural, and something we can be on the look out for in ourselves or in our teammates. By knowing this is normal, we can help them and ourselves to journey through this phase of transition.
After a while, it is not uncommon for our satisfaction level to actually bottom-out. The differences that were once new and exciting then become alarming – and now they just feel wrong! We don’t like the changes anymore, and we can feel angry. Again, this is normal human behavior. We don't want to stay in this phase of course, but it is natural to experience this phase in the course of transitioning.
The danger is that without some help and support, it is possible to get stuck in this angry stage. The goal, then, is to journey through this stage – to properly grieve the decrease in satisfaction, to mourn the changes we have experienced, and then to take healthy steps to come into a place of greater peace through acceptance of the changes we are experiencing.
And that is the final stage of the Transition Process: to journey through avoidance and anger, and to move beyond them into a place of accepting the changes that we have experienced – to find our satisfaction in the "new normal" that now characterizes our lives.
On average, this entire process of transition can take a person between 6-12 months to complete. We are now in our third month of the new field service in Benin. That means, on average, many of us are moving into or through the "Avoidance Stage”, where all the changes we have been experiencing for the past three months are feeling different and alarming. Sometimes by the 5th or 6th month of the field service (January-February), there can be a drop in Crew energy and morale. This is nothing to be scared of or intimidated by. And it doesn't have to catch us by surprise. This is a natural human response to change, and it can be the normal Crew experience in the middle months of a field service.
You may have started to see your own satisfaction level decreasing. You may have already noticed some of your cabin-mates or co-workers experiencing avoidance or even anger.
Let me encourage you to keep moving. Keep progressing along in the journey of transition. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a stage of avoidance or anger. Ask for help. Get some support from a friend or mentor or Chaplain. Spend consistent time alone with God, talking with Him about what you are experiencing, and listening to what He has to say to you in this unique season. And allow yourself to continue moving toward a place of acceptance, where you can find a healthy attitude toward life amid all the changes around you.