Strive to Be Present in the Midst of Transitions
By Emily Nilsen, Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua
“With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? —Micah 6:6–8 NRSV
(The following reflection by Emily Nilsen includes insights she and her husband, Andrew, gained as Peace Corps volunteers in Nicaragua.)
We’ve had a lot of transitions. We left our jobs, our homes, our friends, our families. We moved to a foreign place, where I didn’t speak the language (and Andrew was a little rusty). It felt as if we were in a place of constant transition.
So how do you “be present” through any and all of that? To me, to live more in the present means to focus on where I am in this moment, and spend a little less time worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. It is wonderful to think of countless memories we have with friends and family back in the States, but those same memories can also make us miss home and loved ones. It can be exciting to think about our future career paths, grad school, and family, but it can also bring up anxiety about still not knowing what we want to be when we “grow up.”
While this struggle between reminiscing about the “good ole days” and being terrified of a yet unknown and undefined future is very common for Peace Corps volunteers; it is also very real for most 20-somethings. We are in the phase of life researchers call “emerging adulthood.”
We’ve narrowed insights about this time in life to a few simple guidelines:
Acknowledge whatever we’re feeling in the moment. Maybe we’re feeling awesome after one of our fantastic Community of Practice experiences, or maybe we’re feeling homesick after hearing about another volunteer’s trip to the US. Pretending the feeling isn’t there doesn’t help at all. We start with acknowledging it, naming it, and just feeling it.
Realize that whatever we’re feeling is just that—a feeling. It will pass, as the moments and circumstances do. One of our trainings reminded us that even if we were in the US, our lives would be full of ups and downs. It’s the same here. Life continues. There are good days and hard days. Sick days and awesome I’m-in-love-with-my-life-here days.
Strive to practice gratitude, reminding each other of the things we’re so incredibly blessed to have.
Try to engage with people as much as we can, especially when our down moments hit. People are always a great connection to the present. We feel most alive and at home when we connect with the people here. This is especially important during times of transition and sadness.
May I see your light in all life.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Light of God
Close your eyes, and become centered with your breath. As you breathe gently in and out, reflect on the statement, “The light of God is in all things.” The light has a bright, soft beauty and radiates God’s healing love. The light of God reaches you and permeates you with a deep sense of peace. Rest in the light as it surrounds and fills you. Thank God that you live in God’s light, and it lives in you.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.