In the fall of 2015, my husband took a call to a new church in another state. We packed up our children and our stuff, said a million tearful goodbyes, and left the place we had called “home” for many years.
It is now spring in the new place, and we are on the other side of the upheaval.
Here are some things God has been teaching us as He dragged/carried us through these past few months. I hope it will be helpful to others who are unsettled today!
It’s OK to be sad
A move means saying goodbye to a season of life, a place full of memories, and people you love. Even if it is undertaken willingly, a change like this leaves many sore spots on a heart. Goodbyes will be painful. The entire family will ache for the old “normal.” This is all OK. Yes, we know God is faithful. Yes, we trust His plan for us as we move forward. That does not mean we do not suffer as He moves us along. Rather, we accept the suffering as part of the process, and bring our aching hearts to Him. We can trust Him with those, too.
Sadness in others is OK, and I can’t fix it
We left behind some dear friends who did not want us to go. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I do not mean just leaving, but also leaving knowing someone I love was hurting, and the hurt had to do with us, and nothing I could do could possibly fix it. The tears made us feel very loved, but also incredibly powerless. As we worried for our friends, God gently reminded us that He can and will care for each of them, even without our hands. This is a tough lesson. When I feel this ache and this powerlessness, I am driven to prayer, to the feet of my Father. We have no other choice but to trust Him with those things that are now out of our hands.
Friendships truly last
“Goodbye,” in Christ, truly means “see you later.” And after several months, we have seen some of our old friends again. What a joy it is for those united in Christ to find that friendship can be picked up again easily; that distance did not destroy but only rearranged things. Yes, we miss being part of the normal lives of those we love in our old home, but there is a different flavor of joy in the not-so-normal friendships. Time together is now terribly precious, and savored as such.
Some people won’t understand, and that’s ok!
It’s an odd thing to leave old friends and find new ones. For a long time, I was hesitant to share my heart with many people. I was feeling grief- something I assumed our excited new church family would not understand. I was also feeling joy and excitement at what God is doing in the new place- news that might make the ache worse for the friends in my old place. But God provides people in both places, and friendships change, and time has a way of softening edges and smoothing out these differences.
God rearranges us
The moment the decision to move was made, the old “normal” was gone. It was like a bomb had gone off in our lives, exploding every comfort zone, every habit, every predictable day. We arranged many “last this” and “last that,” but there would be no re-creating life before the threat of the upcoming move. Normal vanished, and it took days, weeks, months for a new normal to form. Now, the dust has mostly settled, and I find myself with a house on a busy street with no cornfields in sight, a fireplace in my new living room, and boys who play baseball. What was “normal” is now “remember-when.”
It is a battle to let God rearrange you!
An example: In our old lives, I really liked being a stay-at-home mom, with my little ones and a few extra kids. I liked our small preschool days, bug-collecting, watching the tractors drive by, napping every afternoon. Here, all six children are in school. I spent a season of quiet grief about this change, and then God provided for me my new normal: punching a clock at an actual job. But for this job, I get to wear yoga pants and play with play-dough. God had prepared for me a new niche at our church’s preschool, with some of the best parts of the old life still present and many new things to learn and experience. I have been rearranged, but by my Father, who knows me and knows what I need.
It is a battle to keep an open heart
“Mom, I don’t have any friends here. And if I did, God’s just going to make us move again anyway.” First, this child does have friends. Second, I get it, son. Especially right after the move, the aching I felt for my old friends made me afraid to make new ones. Why should I? Will God just take these ones away, too? That’s an awful thing to think, but it drove me to prayer, and often as a family we have prayed, “God, please make our hearts open to the new people you will send us here.” Hearts can be open and aching at the same time, but God’s help is necessary!
Same God, different beauty
There are a million ways to reflect the beauty of God. We spent years enjoying His beauty reflected in the hard-working farmer, the combine driver, the cigar-chewing squirrel hunter, the fiddle player, and all those dear country saints we came to love. Now, we enjoy watching the glory of God bounce off the paramedic, the nurses, the soup kitchen volunteers, the single parents, the baseball coaches, and the million other vocations God has given to His city children. It’s the same God, the same mercy pouring out on the neighbor, but we get to see it in a different context. Pray for eyes to see, and He will open them.
God is faithful
Last year at this time I could never have guessed what our lives would be like today. Yet, we have found a new normal. I know where the grocery stores are, and who will give my kid a ride, and who will pray for me when I’m having a rough day. I have silently grieved the loss of raspberry plants and lilac bushes only to be given new and better ones by a neighbor. I have looked at the sky and laughed at God’s loud reminders to me that He sees, He knows, and He cares for His children. He has unsettled everything except for His faithfulness to His children, and that is what matters the most in this life.
Uphold all your children who are in transition today. Be with them in their grief, and comfort their aching hearts as they leave behind what has become “normal.” Be with them also in their excitement, and assure them of Your plans for them. You are a Father who knows what we need, and You provide for us even during times of change. Keep your hand on those you have called to follow You into new places. Be their stability in change. Open their hearts to new people and experiences. Bless and keep those they must leave behind. During the stress of moving and change, provide them times of green pastures and still waters, of rest in the peace that only You can give, the peace that is founded on Your promise to care for Your children. In the name of Jesus, Amen.