Keeping Company Through Transition: Walking With Friends Through Hallway Seasons
Author: Kate Schaber | www.kateschaberwrites.com | @kateschaber
We here at Sheology are talking about Hallway Seasons this month; seasons of transition in our lives, times when we’re between Here and There. We’ve all experienced change ourselves, but when a loved one finds themselves in the thick of transition, it can be difficult to know how to handle it. Here are some of my go-to strategies for supporting a loved one through these murky times:
Be patient. Just what we all love to hear! There is no quick fix. You will hear the same stories, the same complaints, the same laments, over and over again. Yes, your friend is, in fact, a broken record. Embrace it for a little while. Allow space for the repetition and the confusion. The thing with Hallway Seasons is that there is no clear timeline, no 1-Year Guarantee. It’d be nice if they’d hurry up and figure out their problems or stop being such a hot mess, but that’s not real life, is it? It’s not pretty, it’s not neatly packaged, it’s not simple- which means neither is your friendship in this season. Be patient, be a Truth-Teller, a Remind-er, but remember you’re in it for the long game. So settle in and let grace flow out of you with abandon.
Keep moving. It can be tempting to set up camp in the Hallway with your loved ones. And sure, there are moments and seasons where that is called for and completely necessary. But don’t let the line between a supportive friend and a codependent relationship be blurred. If you have a job to do, a family to tend to, a calling to pursue, DO IT. It is completely possible to support your friend with compassion and be with them in the trenches AND pursue health and wholeness with clarity in your own life. You are not abandoning your friend by being productive and healthy. In fact, seeing what is possible in the future may be just the dose of hope they need to keep going.
Be a distraction. Hallway Seasons can just straight up suck. There, I said it. Transition isn’t usually fun, and it can be hard to pull your head out of the hard work or confusion or monotony while you’re in that place. Do not underestimate the power of a “hey lets do something fun!” text. Offer to grab dinner, see a show, go on a hike, have a living room dance party, whatever it is, a healthy helping of fun is the break we all need sometimes. None of us were built to carry the heavy stuff in life for too long.
Reach out. Check in on your friends with obnoxious frequency. Not that I know from personal experience AT ALL, but sometimes people seclude themselves and withdraw when they’re going through a difficult or confusing time. So reach out— invite them to functions repeatedly (even if they say no on several occasions), remind them that they’re not a burden, and that you care about how they’re doing. We all need to know we’re loved and thought of, even right in the middle of our process.
Remind them of the truth. You, as the friend outside the Hallway, have insight from a different perspective. You can see above the walls of the maze they may feel stuck in. So share the things you know to be true—about life, about God, about your friend. If they are strong and patient to their core, but are feeling weak and frazzled—speak the truth to them. “To love a person is to see all of their magic, and to remind them of it when they have forgotten” (author unknown). Be a relentless encourager, re-aligner, truth-teller. Remind them of who they are, remind them they are not their struggle. These truths, and friends like you, ground us, and give us hope for the journey ahead.
Allow space for who they’re becoming. The difficulty with this one is that they may not end up being who you remember them. Hallways, transitions, whatever you want to call them, change us all. Your friend may not be who you thought they were, they may even disappoint you in their journey. Their employment may change, their faith and their relationships may look different, but don’t miss this incredibly powerful opportunity to allow the space for a person to grow and change, and to embrace them on the other side saying, “So nice to meet you again. I love you still.”