Before I left China I visited the ancient ruins of Ankor Wat. Afterwards I recommended anyone going through a significant life transition visit a place so much larger than themselves it helps to put one in place. Yes, I am important and what I experience matters, but don’t buy into all of the press going on in my mind. (This is HUGE. No one has gone through anything like this. I will be forever defined by this. Am I ruining my life? — Being in real ruins has a way of showing occasional absurdity of the inner life.)

Massive scale has a way of whispering, “Informed by this transition and season of life, yes. Defined, not necessarily, that one’s up to you.”

The word profound can be overused, dulling us to what is … profound.

Pagoda park

What word fits my trip to Beijing? A trip including

An unexpected reunion with my last team? A friend undergoing cancer surgery in the wake of her mother’s death? My first return to China after more than a year out with the death of my dad still measured in months?

I now have another life recommendation. Let enough time pass so you are rooted in your new life and then visit your old life. Enough time will have passed allowing you to see:

  1. What is precious and associated with that season of life, space, or a person, but you didn’t know it
  2. How you have moved on
  3. How grateful you are for what that season offered to you

One more recommendation :) … watch inspiring movies.

I saw the first one on a quiet afternoon as my friend napped. We had returned to hospital that morning and visited the ER for an unexpected medical glitch that needed attending. Nothing alarming, but outings could be exhausting given the realities of needing to walk to find a taxi and not having transportation right there. When we got home she rested and I watched Belle, based on the true story of a mixed race young woman in the 18th Century with themes of family, privilege, race, love, and slavery. Now, in full disclosure, it was the movie Sarah Plain and Tall that inspired me to move to China, so I’m a bit of a sucker when it comes to encouraging one to life a story of significance. Belle reminded me living a good story isn’t just for those at the start of life (her uncle was also living one).

Regardless of the setting, am I still living a story worth living?


The second movie was Gravity. My friend Dan gave it to me the first day I saw him and told me I’d like it. The two weeks passed and he asked if I’d watched it. He’s only given me one movie before with the suggestion of watching it (and now that I think about it, I wasn’t taken with that movie. Faulty memories can be a blessing!). I watched part of Gravity the night before I returned to the States and finished it the next morning (Hey, why pack before you need to? One of my life mottos.). Hear me now and believe me later, Gravity is a must see when you are exiting one life and either entering or reentering another. A must see. The main character, played by Sandra Bullock, has been in a accident in space and is up against horrendous odds to return to earth. She had to be tethered to something greater than herself of she would float away.

Hello, what do people in transition need? To be tethered to something greater than themselves, their feelings, their thoughts, and their roller coaster emotions. Given how loaded this trip was, it was gut wrenching to leave. I felt untethered. But I wasn’t. I am tethered to God who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Though I may feel like I’ll float away, the tether connected to something great than me says other wise.

Notice how I waited to the end of this post to spring this on you … Welcome to A Trip In Review Week: what it’s like to revisit your old life. I don’t want to drag this on for the next several weeks and have both of us get so sick of me and the trip. Instead, I’m going to hit it hard this week and then move on. So, sit back and enjoy the ride — we are tethered after all!

Have you gotten to visit your old life after a significant transition? What was it like? What movies might you add to my list of transition movies?

Read the full series here :)

Leave A Comment

  1. Tanya Marlow November 3, 2014 at 7:08 am - Reply

    “To be tethered to something greater than themselves” – yes. I know that experience of feeling untethered. That’s the perfect way of describing it. Looking forward to accompanying you as you process all this.

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      Amy November 10, 2014 at 7:43 am - Reply

      Thanks friend! I know I’m a week behind in replying to comments. But I decided I could either enjoy the week or be a slave to it — you can tell which one I picked :)!

  2. Lisa notes November 3, 2014 at 10:27 am - Reply

    Gravity was definitely one of those movies that sticks with you awhile. I love your applications–tether ourselves to something greater than ourselves or we’ll float away. Thanks, Amy!

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      Amy November 10, 2014 at 7:44 am - Reply

      Lisa, so nice to see you here! And I’m glad you enjoyed Gravity too!

  3. Suzan Hicks November 3, 2014 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Perfect timing for the phase of transition I’m facing. Painful and lost has been the description as of late. Thank you for reminding me to hang on to the One that never changes!

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      Amy November 10, 2014 at 7:45 am - Reply

      Oh Suzan, the back and forth is not easy, is it? Were you able to go to DAR?

  4. Mark Allman November 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    I like the image that tethered to God puts in my mind. I also like to think that we as fellow travelers can help us hand onto that tether through encouragement and allowing ourselves to be tethered to and to hold on to others.

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      Amy November 10, 2014 at 7:48 am - Reply

      Mark, agreed! I don’t really know much about space travel (duh!) and what I do know comes mostly from movies (let’s be honest). In Gravity, Sandra was tethered to a fellow astronaut at one point and he wasn’t going to make it. He unthethered himself from her so that she could live. Up to that point, their being tethered together had been life saving! I like the distinction you make between being tethered to vs holding on to others.

  5. Kristi November 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm - Reply

    Amy, I want to respond to this post, but not sure if the words will come. For most of my life transition was just a word on a page. I really hadn’t felt its weight or power in my own life. But for the past few years transition has been the theme.

    The first thought/image/emotion/memory that came to mind was the first time I went back to the school where I taught in the States. It bordered on traumatic. I watched the soccer game but went no where near my former classroom. I avoided the restroom because it was right next to the 4th grade room. I couldn’t go “there.” There being the emotions of loss and failure that filled my heart. It took several months before I could use the restroom or walk past the room on the way to visit other classrooms.

    The day I actually went into the room I was the substitute teacher! I had told my former principal that I was willing to sub the week before. That morning he called me before 5 am and asked me to sub. I couldn’t say no. I cried, prayed, and called a friend to pray as well. The Father me me there and the experience was a blessing. I was able to move on.

    But I have to admit I rarely “feel” tethered. I still have to remind myself over and over that what and Who I can’t see is stronger than what I can see. I continue to process that initial difficult breaking with my old life as I continue to transition from year to year as my teammates and job changes each year in Asia. I’m learning to hold this world loosely and to lean hard on the strength or my Father and trust that He has me even when I don’t feel Him.

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      Amy November 10, 2014 at 7:51 am - Reply

      Kristi, I always enjoy hearing part of your story (not that I enjoy you’ve needed to struggle!) — but the ways in which you offer parts of yourself and your journey to us. Thank you. I have wondered if there is a difference for single people and married people when it comes to feeling tethered. BUT as I’ve mulled it over, I think feeling tethered isn’t related to marital status. I’m amazed how much my folks being nice, normal humans and having the same house for over 40 years has helped me feel tethered. Funny what influences our being tethered :)

  6. Beth Hess November 3, 2014 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    A recommendation to visit something bigger than ourselves. Wow — this is a wonderful thought, and I can see how important it is to consider ourselves among all of time and space. I will be looking for an opportunity to do something like this soon. Thank you for linking at Unforced Rhythms.

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      Amy November 10, 2014 at 7:52 am - Reply

      And thanks, Beth, for popping over from Unforced Rhythms!

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