Three years. It’s seems like yesterday at the same time, I feel like I’ve lived several lives over that period. It’s been that long since we tore our family from the longest roots we’d ever made and moved away. As I’ve mentioned before, it wasn’t easy. Besides being a mother, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
As with everything, time does it’s work. In our many moves, we’ve always found that three years is kinda the magic mark. It takes about three years to feel like you know the city you live in and can drive to just about anywhere and have some idea how to get there. Relationships start to form around the three year mark, roots shooting down and grabbing hold. The house or apartment doesn’t feel like a hotel where you are staying temporarily. Some cities are more challenging than others but overall this has been our experience.
This move was different in respect that we had children and we were moving from a place that we had lived for almost eight years. It was the longest my husband and I had lived anywhere. Reflecting back, there are some things I’d do differently if I had it to do over.
I’d recognize there is NEVER a good time to move kids. Unless they are under the age of three. People told us it was a good age to move the boys, who were seven and nine. They weren’t teens yet. I’d hate to see what it would have been like if they were teens because it wasn’t pretty. The grief, hurt and trauma they went through was staggering. Why did I expect any less? Kids are resilient but only up to a point. Like any human they have feelings and emotions too. I sold them short.
It has taken three years to work out some of those issues. They’ll be more. Communication is key and we have listened and talked to them about our old home and old lives versus our new ones. After reading a book on moving by Susan Miller, I recognized they were grieving a monumental loss of everything they ever knew, so we let them mourn it. Talk about it. My youngest and I will never get over leaving our old backyard. It will always be bittersweet. You know what? That’s okay.
The second thing I would do is change how we approached the move. I really had good intentions. I wanted them to be excited about the adventure God had for us. I wanted them to understand how God has plans for our lives and this is part of it. I wanted them to have the understanding of an adult and a mature faith. It doesn’t work that way. They are kids.
Some ministry families think it’s a package deal. We are all in ministry together. It’s how we approached the move with the boys. It was the wrong thing to do. Reading Barnabas Piper’s book, The Pastor’s Kid this past year, gave me a wake-up call. Piper makes a very good point that the parents, (hopefully both) decide to go into ministry but the kids do not. They just ended up being born into a ministry family. They didn’t ask for this.
Our boys have only understood on a very basic level why we moved. It was practical not spiritual. The more we tried to explain the spiritual aspect, the more their hearts hardened. It made them more angry at God for making them move. It totally backfired on us.
I would love a do over on that one. I wouldn’t spiritualize it and I wouldn’t put it in context that we are all in ministry together. It would be a conversation on practical terms only and I’d answer the spiritual questions if they had any. I wouldn’t try to fix the pain by spiritualizing it. I would let them work through the pain and hopefully trust God with the rest. He’s God after all right? Why I am trying to do His job?
I just want to make a further point on the ministry family. Because I know there are those of you who disagree and that’s okay. We don’t have to agree. In our family, our kids get to choose ministry if they want to. It’s not a package deal. Mark and I are in ministry. Our kids are not. Until and if, they choose to be. We include them in the good stuff. It’s fun to show them how God moves and teach them truth. But that’s it. It’s their choice. The other thing? Until they are adults, they don’t get to see the mud. The damage is otherwise too devastating. That’s my rant and now back to the blog.
Third, I underestimated my own response to the move because I had moved many times before this one. However in the previous moves, I wasn’t leaving my twin sister or friendships that were almost a decade old. I wasn’t leaving school roots and a community we had become a part of. This was different and I never saw it coming. I was worried about the boys and I didn’t recognize the signs of grief and loss in myself. Now I know.
I thought that moving back to a city near where I grew up and was familiar with, would be easy. Been there, done that. No. It’s true, you can never go back. Because people change, circumstances change and places change. What had been familiar no longer was. I was in a city I once knew but now was a stranger. It took some time to get used to that.
There are lots of awesome things about moving. I love the purge. I love starting with a clean slate somewhere new. Learning new ways of life.
Moving brings change. It’s not always bad.
We’ve learned that when things aren’t working, it’s time to change them. You do not have to settle for mediocrity. Changing our kids school is still one of the best decisions we have ever made. It wasn’t even ours. It was a divine intervention that has radically changed our lives.
Which brings me to my last point. We shouldn’t fear change. It can radically transform us. It brings out the junk we need to deal with, quite effectively I might add. It finds the courage buried deep within and coaxes it to the surface. It makes us brave.
Change refines and sharpens us. It’s certainly not comfortable by any means. Even good changes. It helps us get to know ourselves better. To find out what we are made of. If we’re really willing to get honest and open, it can bring us face to face with God. To finally acknowledge we are at the end of our own abilities to accept the invitation to draw closer. Get to know intimately the God who does have it all under His control.
A move. Change. It sets the stage for transformation. Growth. Into the person we were created to be.