Two weeks ago Craig and I, along with the crazy puppy, moved cities. In the five years we’ve been married we’ve lived in six places, three cities, and two countries. In the past ten years we have moved over ten times!
As I packed the boxes this time a friend joked with me that we must be moving towards “professional mover” status. (If such a thing exists, someone please sign me up, I think we qualify for the free t-shirt!). I chuckled and replied something like “oh you would assume so.” In the midst of the chaos of transition I didn’t feel like a professional anything, let alone a professional mover. I started to think, however, that there probably were many lessons to be learned from transitioning often.
While I still don’t claim anything close to being good at moving. I do think we’ve been taught some valuable lessons worth us remembering. They don’t just apply to moving though, they apply to living.
(In no particular order)
1. Be present where you are.
This one I learned early on. During our first stint overseas I spent the whole year pining for the community I left, wishing I could be with people who knew me. I spent so much time waiting to be back where I was known, that I denied the people around me the chance to know me, and failed to take advantage of the richness of who God had provided for us during that time.
I mourned the loss or changing of friendships. Which to an extent is healthy. At the same time though, I would get stuck, wallowing in the “what we hads” and the “what could have beens” instead of being thankful for times had and things learned.Then we went back to the States and I realized life had moved on without me. Those people didn’t know me anymore to the same extent. They didn’t know how my year abroad shaped and molded me. The thing I had wished for didn’t really exist anymore there.
That lead to me discover that perhaps all of our relationships are not meant to be life long. (If they were, that would be a bit exhausting, right?)
For the rest of our time on earth, our lives will be a revolving door of people coming in and out. Some will stay for a long time, and others will just pop in for a bit. And that’s ok.
Allowing myself to be fully present in relationships and appreciate the people God placed in our lives at the moment, for however long that season may be, was a long hard lesson. Loving people even though you know they might leave is risky. In the end, you always feel some sort of hurt. The only other alternative though is to live a lonely life of solitude and rebel against what God might want to teach us through the souls He’s put in our paths.
I’ve learned so much, laughed so hard, and loved so deeply, all in short amounts of time by allowing myself to be open to the people God picked for us “for such a time as this.” As cliche as it sounds, I’m a better person for allowing these people into my life to sharpen me.
2. Getting involved quickly has merit- my move is not always for me.
A few days into this most recent new city, we got invited to help with something. At first I thought “Are you crazy? Do you know how unstable we are right now? How many boxes are exploding around me?”
My husband, being wiser (and more extroverted) than I, accepted the offer and went out to meet some new people. When I asked him if he was crazy he told me; “I could make settling in last a lifetime, and I don’t want to be settling in forever.”
While getting settled and unpacked is definitely important, he was right. I could sit in my house and nest forever, ignoring the world and the opportunities around me because I don’t feel settled.
There are so many people to meet, things to help with, experiences to be had. I don’t want to sit around waiting to feel settled or waiting for people to step out and move towards me when there are people to move towards and things to be involved in. My move doesn’t have to be all about me, it can also be about the people I have moved to.
3. Making your house a home is valuable.
This isn’t applicable to everyone, but it is to me.
Our first two years overseas we were on year long commitments. A year didn’t seem like enough time to make things like painting the walls worth it. I even went a whole year without a can opener because I had one of those at “home” and didn’t want to buy a second one. For a whole year I opened cans with a hammer and screw driver. (We quickly figured out which brands were pop-top!) because I was too afraid of the cost of making my house a home. For that reason we didn’t feel at home, and we didn’t act like we had a home.
For me, acting like we have a home means inviting people into our space. Doing life with others. Making meals for others, sharing meals with others, feeling comfortable enough where I am to take time to learn things from the Lord, and being rested enough to be able to give out of my overflow.
If that means putting nails in the walls, it means putting nails in the walls. If it means buying a table that fits in one house, only to have to sell it when we move to the next one, then table shopping we go.
It’s another lesson I’ve learned the hard way, but I truly believe that I am a better servant to others when I feel at home.
4. Approach belongings in the same manor as relationships in lesson number one.
I love stuff. Craig loves stuff. We are lovers and keepers of things.
Neither one of us had traumatic childhoods, but you would wonder about that if you saw what we put in the storage room for “just in case.” We’re like the boy scouts. Always prepared.
In our many moves though, we’ve also decided that moving lots of stuff is a hassle. Thanks to Craig’s prodding, each time we leave a place, we try to purge as much as we can and leave as light as possible.
There’s a lot to be said about tradition, memories, and memorabilia, believe me…I am the queen of memorabilia. But at some point, it’s ok to sell the couch, give away those picture frames, and live with that table only for a season.
I don’t want to go through life so burdened by my things (for memory’s sake) that I’m unable to move.
I’m sure there are many more ways our characters have been shaped, or worn down from the constant change of scenery, but these are what the Lord (and Craig) have reminded me of these past two weeks. May they be true of us in this new city.
And with that I’m off to hang some picture frames.