Originally published March 1, 2023

In writing, transitions are connection pathways from one idea or scene to another. The best transitions ensure the readers don’t get lost. Authors insert them in scenes (or use scene or chapter breaks) to highlight a shift in character viewpoint, location, or time. Transitions also highlight changes in tone to bring the reader into what the characters are experiencing and feeling. In some ways, they’re my favorite part of the writing experience, seeing how characters change as their world shifts around them.

If only real-life transitions were so simple.

My family has experienced a huge transition. One I’m still processing because it’s not over yet.

Since 2016, my husband committed to attending school for the long haul. He would go for his PhD, and his dream was, ultimately, to be a college professor. And I was fully behind him. It was a perfect career for the kind of professional and family life he wanted, we thought. Although he was willing to consider public and private sector work, teaching has always been his heart and soul. It lights up his eyes and his mind to see others learning. To share his knowledge. And I love that about him.

Fast forward to 2020. He’s starting his PhD research after two years in the program, and, although he enjoys the subject, he falls further into depression. He has a difficult time making progress on what he believed for years was his dream. And then, in March, the whole world shuts down.

A year later, he’s spinning his wheels, feeling like every advisor meeting is one step forward and four steps back. We’re adjusting to work-from-home life with a newborn, and his listlessness starts to scare me. When I’m anxious, I work myself to crazy extents. I nitpick. I stress about money and housing and how much I feel like I’m drowning. I had set aside a few of my hopes and goals for our life to pursue his dream of higher education. And something was wrong. But I didn’t know what. 

So we kept plugging along. Bickering. Working. Caring for a toddler. Shifting expectations. Living with the discomfort we thought was simply a hard phase we could get past. And it was. But it wasn’t.

In March 2022, two years after the pandemic started, and my husband realizes that what he assumed was dissatisfaction caused by the stress of COVID-19 is actually a truth he’s been running from: professor life—real research professor life—isn’t what he thought it would be.

Most professors he knew worked eighty-plus hours a week and spent more time with their research than they did with their families. Some struggled in their relationships because of their devotion to their work. Many professors couldn’t even focus much on providing help to their students because research had to come first. Their jobs depended on it. And he didn’t want that. And, after an embarrassing three months of consideration and discussion, I discovered didn’t want it either.

I don’t like change. We’ve been dedicated to this path almost since the beginning of our marriage, and that made it overwhelming to consider another option. Another path. Another life.

But the light in my husband’s eyes while he teaches shines far brighter when he interacts with our son. He wanted a job that would support his family, not just a family that would support his job.

Now, a few months into his new private sector job, I feel as if we’re thriving. We’re dreaming bigger than we ever have before. We’re hoping and praying God will guide us to our next home for his glory.

God has used—is using—this transition for our good. To bring to our focus the things in our hearts and lives that need attention. To mold us into better pictures of the people he wants us to be—the image of Christ.