Commentary: 9 lessons transition has taught me


 Although I’ve settled into somewhat of a routine at this stage in life, it wasn’t that long ago that, after nearly 18 years, I made a monumental move from small-town Georgia to the fringes of Metro Atlanta. It was a move I prayed about and anticipated for quite a while. Nevertheless, the transition was much harder than I thought it would be. Here are nine things I learned.  

Loneliness is painful.

Because my wife was finishing out her year as a school teacher, I had to make the move by myself. She came down as often as she could; still, many obligations kept her tied to our former location. Evenings were the hardest. I busied myself during the days, then returned to an empty house most nights. Through this, God reminded me people everywhere experience this on a permanent basis. As believers, we must be on the lookout for these dear souls, building relationships, and getting them involved in our church families.

Television/media is addictive.

Arriving in town, I moved into a small rental house on a temporary basis. There was a satellite dish on the property, yet I decided to go cold turkey and not to connect for a while. I soon became aware just how hooked on television I was. Looking back, such a season of media fasting would probably do me good. In case you’re wondering, I did have Wi-Fi but streaming wasn’t as big then. Also, I’m old school and not fond of watching stuff on small screens.  

GPS is wonderful.

Before the move, I scoffed at those using satellite assistance to get around. After all, I’d been around the area for a long time and knew how to get around. These days, I suppose a day doesn’t go by without the assistance of that little navigation app on my phone.  

Practice what you preach.

For years, basking in my cozy little world, I challenged folks to move from comfort zones to battle zones. Once I made the leap myself, I discovered change is hard and not as exciting and invigorating as I thought.    

Clean slates are great.

That said, I embraced the idea of a do-over this blank slate provided. With brush in hand and Holy Spirit guidance inside, I began painting colors on the canvas. What transpired was far from a masterpiece, yet, I think God liked it- and I learned a lot and was so stretched in the process.  

Visitation still works.

To avoid going back to an empty house, I visited church members in the evening. I was in my element. People were so receptive. A few even fed me, home-cooked in fact! There’s nothing like dialoguing with folks on their home turf. The pandemic is behind us now,  so go for it!

Spiritual warfare is real.

God paved the way and was happy that we made this move. Satan, on the other hand, was furious. He deployed his henchmen to thwart this good work at every turn. Thankfully, I claimed this truth - “Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The battle belongs to the Lord.

Selling a house, renting a house, buying a house, learning the names of hundreds of new people and getting established in a new community were overwhelming—yet no one wanted me to succeed more than God.  

Love is the key.

Evangelism is lacking. Discipleship is necessary. Yet, love reigns supreme. “God is love. By this all men will know that we are His disciples, if we love one another” (1 John 4:8, John 13:35). Drawing crowds is nice, yet I learned to look people in the eye instead of over their shoulder for the next big thing.


After three years and four months, we moved again, this time to Athens, to be near grandchildren. Yet another transition, perhaps even more heart-wrenching and lesson-producing than the one described above-  especially in the midst of a pandemic. I’ll save that for future writing. In the meantime, if you’re not going through transition you probably will at some point. My prayer is that you’ll emerge stronger and more Kingdom-focused than ever.  


Todd Gaddis served 30 years as full-time senior pastor and is currently interim pastor at First Baptist Church in Statham.