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The Cost of Serving: Moving and Grieving


We’ve been fighting sickness in our house.  Hence no blog so far this week.  Having a child home sick means that I’m probably not going to get much done, especially anything that takes concentration.

So I did a few things around the house that required almost no thought.  One of which was ironing sheets.  Before you start to judge, let me explain myself.  I am not in the habit of ironing sheets. I hate ironing.  My husband loves it.  He does his own and anything I might happen to give him ahead of time.  (I know right?  Lucky girl!)

However I had bought a set of sheets, unbeknownst to me, that wrinkle like crazy.  Since I had some time I pulled out the ironing board and ironed them.  Why?  I didn’t want the sheets to look ugly on the bed.  I’m trying to make our house a place of sanctuary, a home.  Ugly, wrinkly sheets on that particular day was not meeting my goal.  So I ironed.

We moved a little over two years ago.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  Being a pastor’s wife, I had already moved many times.  I had moved provinces even!  I thought I had it all figured out.  Was I wrong!   I had never moved with children who were old enough to understand what was going on.  I had never moved from a place where we had lived for longer than three years, where we had roots established, schools attended and my twin sister living nearby.

I totally underestimated this move.  Do I think we made the wrong choice?  Not at all.  Both Mark and I knew that we were following God’s call for our family.  We didn’t doubt that.  I always felt that it wasn’t just a call for Mark and me, but also for the boys.  God was calling our family to this new city and ministry.

What I misjudged was the cost of service.  I never thought that my children would pay that price.  We knew they were going to have a difficult time leaving their school and church.  We didn’t realize how difficult.  Everyone tells you kids are resilient.  Maybe in their families.  Certainly not mine.

One word describes that first year post move: BRUTAL!!!   During that year, a friend gave me a copy of the book, After the Boxes are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In, by Susan Miller.  It was a priceless gift.  Miller helped me understand that moving equals loss.  Grieving is a natural process.

Our boys have mourned the loss of everything they ever knew.  Looking back, all the stages of grief came and went.  I saw anger, depression, bargaining, denial.  These are not teenagers but boys.  Acceptance has been a slow journey, one that’s not yet complete.  One child still wistfully hangs on to the past.  My heart breaks as I see his pain.  Nor did I expect my own grief.   So the book was a balm.

Miller writes not only about the mourning process but also about moving on into the new life.  One way to do this is to make your house a home.  I realized I had to want to live here if we ever wanted the boys to feel at home.  I had some work to do.

The previous move, I had been seven months pregnant and had a twenty-month old.  Once the furniture was moved in, I never moved it again.  In eight years.  I decided that could not happen again.  I had to decorate and make this home a refuge from the world.  It’s a work in progress which leads me to the ironed sheets.  Do ironed sheets make all the pain and hurt go away?  No, they don’t.  Only time, love and God can do that.  I don’t pretend to understand why the cost has been high.  I do trust that God is good and He has the best for not only me but also my precious boys.

But some things I do have control of.  Ugly wrinkly sheets don’t feel like home.  I find no peace in them.  So I ironed.