Embracing transition in our lives

Women Walking Together in Faith

September 7, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 18
Liz Koop | Mennonite Women Canada

Transition is something that we all face! From the time we are born until we breathe our last breath, we are transitioning from one stage of life to another. Some of these transitions are almost imperceptible, and we adjust to them with ease, while others, such as events outside of our personal world, may throw us off-balance, as they often do. It is especially at such times that we need to remain connected to God in whom our identity rests.

That’s the message conveyed by Faith Travels: Trusting God in Life’s Transitions by Marlene Kropf, a Bible study guide that focusses on how we experience God’s presence during the transitions in our lives. A joint project by Mennonite Women Canada and Mennonite Women U.S.A., it is published by MennoMedia and available through CommonWord.

As I look back over my life of 68 years, I can pinpoint many transitions that were critical markers in my personal and spiritual growth. I was fortunate to have been able to attend church and Sunday school as a child, and in 1966 was baptized into Bethany Mennonite Church in Virgil, Ont. I had many aunts and uncles who were mentors, and so the transition into church membership and being involved was an easy one. I remember teaching Sunday school, singing in the choir and helping at Vacation Bible School, and loving it all.

Shortly after I graduated from high school, I left home to attend the University of Toronto. That was not an easy transition for me, but I did manage to finish two years before deciding to get married, instead of continuing my education. At the time, it was the “easy way out,” as I was having difficulty dealing with stress at home and at school. Later on, in 1994, I did go back to school and finished my degree. During those in-between years I often struggled with feelings of “Who am I now?”

Looking back, I realize that who I was at any particular time during my life really shouldn’t have mattered, since I know that I’m a child of God, and that’s all that really matters. God created me, loves me and is the one constant in my life. But sometimes when you’re in the midst of the chaos, it’s hard to understand how God is at work within it all.

In 2008, several years after returning from a three-year Mennonite Central Committee term in Bolivia, I was asked to serve on the task force of Canadian Women in Mission. That began my transition into working with Mennonite Women Canada, and led to my appointment as president in 2011. It was a time when women’s ministry in our churches was also in transition, shifting away from the organized women’s groups of yesteryear with their executive and committees that raised funds to support various projects. Today, they have a different look, and are less about projects, and more about building supportive and nurturing relationships in less formal settings, while MW Canada continues its mission to connect with women of all ages and cultures within our churches across the country and around the world.

This past July, after completing my five-year term at our annual meeting, I was happy to announce that Shirley Redekop of Elmira, Ont., is the new president; and Elsie Rempel of Winnipeg is the new secretary/treasurer, replacing Lois Mierau.

For me, another transition begins now as I enter into a more relaxed lifestyle with my semi-retired grape-farmer husband, Alfred, and enjoy my hobbies of quilting, gardening and reading.

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