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Monday, June 8, 2009


I spent the day with our son, a senior in high school, touring a beautiful southern college campus...Auburn University. Our daughter is a junior there, so we were able to go over and stay last night at her apartment. We only have the two children, so we are moving into a significant time of transition, a time of major movement in our pilgrimage, that will usher in a new season of life.

We face all kinds of transitions in life-going from grade school to high school; from single to married; from parent to grandparent, the passing on of loved ones. And in each transition, there is great potential for positive change OR for being unable to make needed changes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803-April 27, 1882) stated:
"Not in his goals but in his transitions is a man shown to be great."

In line with the usual transition our family is embarking on, many 50 something women today are walking through their own realignment because of job loss or another notable life change. I want to do my best as I journey through the many transitions that are sure to come in my future.

That is why I wanted us to take a quick look at an old Civil War hero to see how he handled his turning point. In his book entitled LIFE MAPPING, John Trent, Ph.D, brought forth the following details about the life of General Robert E. Lee.

General R. E. Lee was the ranking commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee left his home a wealthy man, commanding a mighty army, committed to victory. He would return in defeat, paroled as a prisoner of war, to a countryside mired with economic depression. At home he would find an invalid wife, five unemployed adult children, and another son missing in action.

General Lee's leadership ability was recognized on both sides of the line. But it was how he handled himself as a civilian after the war that truly showed his character. After seeing thousands of his own men die and his homeland devastated, he was quoted as saying: "I have never felt bitter or vindictive feelings towards the enemy, and I have never seen the day I did not pray for them." He was so committed to reconciliation that one historian would say of Lee, he did "more than any other American to heal the wounds of war."

Lee dedicated his later life to writing hundreds of letters, urging his fellow Southerners to put away their anger and focus on Christ and rebuilding the Union. In doing so, he provided a guiding light to thousands of Southerners who followed his example.

General Lee showed an extraordinary ability to bend with transitions, and he did so by believing that changes large and small come from the hand of God.

But some people are broken by times of change and crushed by an inability to accept even minor movements of life over which they have no control.
It is doubtful that very many of us have gone through as many losses and transitions as this Civil War hero. However, we all face our own brand of changes that can either disarm us or empower us to move forward.
What time of transition or change are you up against today? Will you choose to look at the positive potential or dwell on the potential problems?


  1. That is the key - to find empowerment in the process. Thanks for a thoughtful essay.

  2. Joan..loved the depth in your essay today. It is true we don't always have the choice in what happens in our life but we do have the choice regarding our attitude with which we react. I did not know the story about General Lee and it inspired me.

  3. Such an eloquent and inspirational essay, Joan. I prefer to look at the glass as half full and believe that all change is good for us because it encourages growth.