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5 Lessons That Moving Taught Me

5 Lessons That Moving Taught Me

Moving is not just a logistical, social or financial decision, rather it is all those things, AND it’s a decision with spiritual ramifications too. I’ve noticed over the years in the things I’ve read and in personal conversations, that people don’t factor in the effects that moving has on our spiritual life. Hear me out, because it took me years to make the connection. Give me a moment to give you context on my history with moving.

By the time I was 11, my mom and I had moved at least 10 times. As I reflect on those years, I feel like the impact was low. We stayed close enough to the area that my friend group was still accessible, we stayed connected to our church and I kept going to the same school. My mom mostly rented rooms in big houses along with others. In our case, it seems like it made financial sense, and our neighbors became an extended family. The neighborhoods were lovely, with mature trees and wrap-around porches. At the end of 6th grade we had our first big move a little over an hour away. This one landed on the doorstep of puberty, right at the start of middle school and it shook my world.

As an adult in 2005, our family made another major move, this time across state lines. This one was different. We were so stirred by Genesis 12, when God calls Abram to leave his land, his relatives and his father’s house. By this season of my life Marc and I had just celebrated our 5 year anniversary, I had been a Christian for 8 years, and a mom for 10 years. We bought our first home a few months after getting married and did not think of any future outside of New York. A few years into our marriage we went on a personal vision retreat (another blog for another time). We had not talked about moving up to this point, at least not outside of our own heads, but this retreat gave us space to slow down and talk.

We strongly felt the move was something God was calling us to. How can excitement and confusion coexist? We had put our roots down, we were involved in our local church and had deep connections to our community. Giving God our “yes” felt sacrificial and thrilling all at the same time. We also felt that since God was leading this trek, we had every right to expect him to replant us in the right community and all things that come along with it. After painfully wrestling with the idea for over a year we put our first home on the market, packed a moving truck and tearfully hugged our loved ones goodbye. None of this felt like a piece of cake but we could not deny God was at work.

We landed just outside of Raleigh, NC in the summertime with no real community. Similar to me, our son would start middle school in a new place. Marc had moved ahead of us and started a connection with a local church, before that we didn’t have any family or friends in the area. It was the pastor of that church that helped Marc and our son unpack the truck. The kindness of that pastor is something we still talk about. The guests for our first Thanksgiving were our real estate agent and his family. So you can imagine, in many ways we were starting from zero.

The questions we had on repeat in our hearts was “God what’s next? What are you doing? Would you give us wisdom?” Due to circumstances beyond our control, our relationship with our spiritual leadership back in NY had been severed and our friends were soon moving on with their own lives. In hindsight, I can see how the Father used the separation and loneliness to help us to lean into Him and each other. We began to understand that sometimes God shakes things up so that what can’t be shaken, can remain. (Hebrews 12:26-28) In that season we experienced a closeness with God that grew us. Our desperation provoked us to press in to Him. There was plenty of fumbling through on our part, but I believe God was pleased because we were taking steps in faith. (Hebrews 11:6)

If you find yourself planning a significant move, here are 5 lessons that moving taught me that I believe will be helpful:

1. Invite God to speak

As a follower and disciple of Christ I strongly encourage you to have a word before you launch out. Get in your Bible and ask your Heavenly Father to show you a verse(s) that will keep you grounded. The path you are taking will not always feel like the best decision, and doubts will come. A word from God will anchor you when your emotions want to pull you out of His will. Jesus was very clear when He said, “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) You need His Word to sustain you.

2. Make it easier on yourself

Logistically speaking, take this time to pack what is essential, and pass on or throw away what is no longer serving you. Do you really want to pack, move and manage items that you don’t need? Maybe it’s time to have a yard sale and earn some cash to treat yourself after the move, pay some debt or get some new furniture for your next home.

3. Don’t forget self-care

After your move, make time for self-care. Get a massage, go on a special date, if you have kids go on a fun family night. Discovering a new city is a bonding experience. Part of self-care is giving yourself permission to feel all the feelings. This might feel like a season of mourning at times, remembering “how we used to do it.” It’s ok to honor that, also consider this as an opportunity to create new traditions.

4. Make room for your kids

Speaking of kids, slow down. Even when you have fun and exciting reasons for moving, there will be pockets of time where you feel like you’re in survival mode. As a decision-making adult, even though you don’t know all the details, you still have decades of coping skills to carry you. Your kids don’t have that. They are having feelings too. Your kiddos need to know that they are seen and heard. It is a most loving act. They are having to navigate a new school, new friends and their own lingering uncertainties. Arguments may arise. This is normal. Everyone’s anxiety level is different and so is the pace at which you each process information. Personally, I overlooked how being brown is a different experience in NY than in NC. I was not sensitive to how this move was impacting our son and therefore didn’t make room for him to process. Slow down and listen to each other. This is a great opportunity to trust God together.

5. Allow yourself to grow through the chaos

This is a perfect time to develop spiritually. Just like you did with your personal belongings, sort through your beliefs. As you go through this holy shaking, don’t pray the process away, ask the Father to help you endure. To give you discernment to hold to that which is essential and let go of what is not drawing you to His heart. Even if you had a special spot in your old home where you prayed and worshiped, that means that now you must find a new spot. That can feel frustrating when you are surrounded by boxes. It’s ok, take it one step at a time. Don’t try to rush through. Allow the Father to use this time and even the chaos of moving to teach you. Maybe you’re used to reaching out to your pastor or church leader whenever you had a need, but now you can’t reach them and you have no one local to turn to. It’s ok. God sent you a Helper, the Holy Spirit. Now is a great time to experience the leadership of Holy Spirit.

Moving creates opportunities to shake off ungodly dependence. Not every relationship survives a move. That’s ok. Friendships, mentoring and/or working relationships may shift. I encourage you not to take it personally. If God is moving you and others in a different direction, why fight it? Try not to injure each other in the process, because God may bring you back together later in the future.

You’re in a good place, friend, just lean in.

Until next time, I’ve got dinner to finish up.

What I’m reading/listening to: Essentialism by Greg McKeown, 2 Corinthians

Song on repeat: Forgive and Forget by Red Worship

Blog entry No. 6

As you go through this holy shaking, don't pray the process away, ask the Father to help you endure.

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