EP. 41: Susan Alexander Yates | Thriving In Transition
Susan Alexander Yates
Susan is a mom to five children and grandmother to 21. She has been married to her husband John for 50 years. They live in Falls Church, Virginia, a Washington D.C. suburb where John has recently retired as Senior Pastor of The Falls Church Anglican.
Susan has written 16 books and speaks on the subjects of marriage, parenting, faith issues, and women’s issues.
- And Then I Had Kids: Encouragement for Mothers of Young Children
- And Then I Had Teenagers: Encouragement for Parents of Teens and Preteens
- Barbara and Susan’s Guide to the Empty Nest (with my friend Barbara Rainey)
- Raising Kids with Values That Last (with my husband John)
- Risky Faith Becoming Brave Enough to Trust the God who is Bigger Than Your World and the One (Devotional) Book.
Susan is a North Carolina Tarheel. She loves Monday night football, ACC basketball, shooting hoops with my grandsons, hiking and riding horseback with my husband, running and talking with girlfriends. You are not likely to find me at the mall; I’d rather be at the farm. You won’t find me in the kitchen by choice; I’d rather be outdoors with my golden retriever. My favorite time of the year is June when all my kids and grandkids are together for a week of “cousin and family camp” in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia.
Susan and I chat about learning to walk through transition with a sense of adventure vs. anxiety, about setting realistic expectations, and constantly focusing on the character of God.
4:28 Susan shares how her journey with Jesus began
8:36 Susan shares some typical life transitions
Susan’s article: How to Trust God in the Midst of Transition
“You have to learn to change your expectations.”
“It helped me to name it, re-entry. When you return from something special, where you leave responsibilities and you come back to responsibility, just count on being a little blue. Call it re-entry and realize it will go away in three days.”
“We tend to think and live as if stability is the norm. That’s what we expect, when things just calm down, but the reality is life never calms down. We have to switch gears in terms of our expectation. Our expectation is not that stability is the norm, but the reality is transition is the norm…Stability is those rare exceptions. I think the first thing that helps with coping with transition is to realize that this is the norm.”
12:03 Susan shares how she learned to view and walk through transition with a sense of adventure vs. anxiety
“When you are young and a young mom, you have this vision, one day I will get there, to whatever that mystical there is. The there is where you trust Christ. You live in that trust relationship. You don’t struggle. You don’t have fear. You don’t fall a part. We have this unrealistic expectation that we’ll get there, but really we’ll never get there this side of Heaven. In heaven, we’ll be there, because we are fallen people in a fallen world. We’re citizens of Heaven, so we will always have this bit of restlessness within our soul of wanting to get there. It is a God given restlessness, because we were created for Heaven, not this earth. The question is, how can we grow in relying more on God and being less controlled by the frantic things going on in our lives?”
One way you can deal with transition is anticipate and plan ahead as best as you can (ex. setting realistic expectations when you go home with baby #4).
Psalm 139: God knows us
“Who is in charge? Not right now. Who is really in charge? God is in charge and He’s got my back”
“The blessings of getting older and walking through the seasons is you realize, part of getting older and growing deeper with the Lord is realizing more and more how much we need Him.”
“We grow two ways. We grow naturally and we grow spiritually. One is not better than the other, they’re parallel tracks. In natural growth, we are growing in independence. You teach your little kids how to dress themselves, how to make their school lunches. When they become teenagers, how to manage money. That’s natural growth, because we want to raise independent kids. Independent kids who are confident that they can do it. That’s a good thing. Spiritual growth on the other hand is becoming more dependent. It’s saying over and over again to God, I can’t, I can’t. But what happens to us, without us realizing it, we apply the rules of natural growth, ‘I should be able to do this by myself,’ to spiritual growth….That messes us up, because Jesus loves it when we get leveled and say, I can’t…Take care that you don’t confuse your oughts of natural growth with your dependence of spiritual growth.”
Book: Risky Faith
Book: One Devotional
“The issue can become bigger in our heads than our Almighty God. The solution is not to grit our teeth and say, ‘I will trust. I will trust. I will trust.’ The solution to this is to focus on who God is. His character traits. Who He is.”
You are a go before me God.
You are a preparer of the way.
You are one who rescues.
The One devotional is 100 character traits of God, 100 verses, and 100 thoughts for 100 days.
“Our tendency is to focus on our issues rather than on how big God is.”
19:50 Susan shares some questions to ask yourself when dealing with transition
- What am I afraid of?
- What character trait of God speaks to that fear?
He is a with us God.
He is a watching over you God.
He’s a God who hems us in.
Start with the book of Psalms.
- Read a Psalm
- Ask God to give you one character trait to focus on
- Psalm 147, 145, 103 are great places to start
- Ephesians 1
- Circle every character trait of God
24:40 Susan offers encouragement for someone who is experiencing unexpected transition
“Remember to reserve judgement on how you feel.”
“It is important to realize that in a transition that is a really painful one, we feel insecure and insecurity can breed a critical spirit. We can become critical of different people involved or ought to be involved and are not. I can find in my head I am getting really critical of this person or that person or that person and it helps to fall back on the fact, I am feeling really insecure, because I am in a major unexpected transition and I need to cling to you Jesus.”
Romans 12:2: Guard your thoughts, renew your mind. “that means stop focusing on that person that’s causing me grief and put my focus back on who Jesus is”
He is still in charge
He has me hemmed in behind and before
He knows the future
Guard against the enemy.
- One of his primary tools is discouragement
“It is helpful too distinguish between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation says, ‘You’re a lousy mom. You’ll never make it in your career. You have let down your parents.’ That’s condemnation. Romans 8:1 says, ‘There is; therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ Then, there’s conviction. Conviction is specific and by the Holy Spirit. Conviction is, ‘Susan, you shouldn’t have spoken to your husband in that way and you need to go and ask him for forgiveness.’ That is a specific conviction. Condemnation is often general and it’s from the enemy. Conviction is specific and that can be from the Holy Spirit calling us to repent and make amends.”
“My mom used to always say, ‘He does what’s best, not necessarily what’s fast.”
31:32 Susan shares a few tips to help a parent progress from parenting a teen out of exasperation to parenting a teen out of adventure
“Every season has challenges and every season has blessings.”
Challenge: How much do I hold on and how much do I let go?
Distinguish between crucial issues and swing issues.
“One of the questions to ask yourself, is this a character issue? Lying is a character issue. Deception is a character issue. Those are crucial issues. Anything that is clear in God’s Word or is a character trait is a crucial issue.”
“You have to think of areas to let up with your teenagers. For example…child’s room is a mess.”
“One thing they [girls and boys] universally need is hope.”
“You have to postpone to the next season of life something you’d really like to be doing right now. You can’t do everything in one season.”
44:52 Susan speaks to the mom out there listening whose child is in their senior year of high school and she is preparing to send him/her away to college.