Last week was one of the most stressful weeks of my life. As we packed, cleaned and purged in preparation for moving to California, it occurred to me that thinking about moving, which is exciting, and actually moving, which is not so exciting, are two very different things. Barely on the other side — we’re still living without furniture and with plastic cutlery — I present to you a few things that will happen when you move:
1. You’ll encounter a lot of stress. When you’re starting over in a new place, there seems to be an unending list of things to do — packing, cleaning, saying goodbye to friends, last-minute appointments. A friend who moved a few years ago encouraged me to keep stress at bay by taking one day (or task) at a time. She also suggested I commit to a teamwork approach with those around me (including my husband, Kevin, and my kids), rather than taking out my tension on them. That was good advice. When the pressure mounted, I often reminded myself, In a few weeks, this will all be over. Even if everything does not go as planned (and it didn’t), we will be in California by early January (and we are). The temporary stress was not worth damaging relationships.
2. You’ll learn to depend on others. When Kevin and I found out we were moving, I had no idea the size and scale of the project we were undertaking. During the month-long period of packing up, I was “saved” again and again by friends who helped with packing, watching our kids and providing food. On our last day in our old house, ten people from our church came over for three hours to help us clean. I was grateful for and humbled by the tangible care they showed us, allowing us to get a little sleep that night on the heels of a very stressful week.
3. You’ll realize your stuff doesn’t matter as much as you thought. Ashley Hendley recently wrote about learning to let go of her stuff. After living in Colorado for 15 years and accumulating a lot of belongings, I can relate. When you move, you learn that you can live with a lot less. We’ve been in our house for almost a week with only the possessions we could fit into our two vehicles, and I don’t miss our stuff (well, maybe I miss the coffee pot). Kevin and I are already discussing a major purge when the moving trucks arrive (yes, that’s trucks, with an s).
4. You’ll gain a fresh perspective on people. We’ve been in our new community for almost a week. Because I’m in a new place, with new people, I find myself observing those around me. And I’ve seen a lot of kindness. The stranger smiling and saying hello as we pass in the grocery store aisle. The teacher at my son’s new school taking time at the end of her day to chat with me. The men delivering our new refrigerator and exchanging high fives and fist bumps with my 3-year-old. New surroundings provide the opportunity to really notice the people around you. For me, it’s also a new opportunity to be a better neighbor myself.
5. You’ll be reminded that God is with you. A few days ago, I told a friend that there are so many “God stories” of how we have been helped through this move. “Write them down!” she encouraged. “You don’t want to forget.” When God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, He told them: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (Exodus 19:4, ESV). Moving may have its stresses, but uprooting yourself from comfortable surroundings and stepping out in faith is a great opportunity to see God at work in your life and be reminded of His presence.
If you’re considering a move, it may be more stressful than you ever imagined. However, the opportunity to form connections with others and see God work out the details can make the change well worth it.