I can vividly remember the day my husband told me we were moving. I had just come home from spin class and was contemplating requesting sessions from a personal trainer for my birthday when my husband burst into the bedroom and announced, “I’ve got an opportunity in Nashville, and I think we should take it.” Like any good wife, I immediately burst into tears.
Move! What?! Why?! Just weeks before I had been reflecting on how perfectly lovely our life in Birmingham was: I had great friends, a church I loved, and a thriving tutoring business. While it wasn’t perfect, life was good…..except that it wasn’t because my husband had been discontent in his career for years. If marriage is anything, it is a lesson in dying to oneself for the sake of someone you love, and despite my misgivings, I decided to trust my husband and agree to the move.
For weeks following his announcement, I awoke with a pit in my stomach, as if remembering a loved one who’d recently passed away. My first thought each day was “we are moving and everything I’ve grown to love will slip away.” The first Sunday after T’s announcement, I bawled my way through church. My daughter, walking up the aisle as an acolyte, elbow-to-elbow with two of her best freinds, sweet girls I imagined my daughter growing up with, sent me into an ugly cry usually reserved for funerals. Forget about my reaction with my own best friends. One of my dearest friends and church choir buddy started bringing tissues to service. I began to mourn my life in Birmingham as I prepared for a move to Nashville. While it seems dramatic, I am a roots girl. I dig in and dig deep. I’ve lived in basically three communities my entire life. I treasure stability, and here I was staring down the unchartered unknown.
Our move wasn’t immediate. In fact, it was a
drawn-out process months in the making. God graciously gave me time to process then accept the move. As I look back on the months before and leading up to it, I realize that I’ve gained a bit of wisdom and perspective, and I even learned a few lessons along the way.
- God goes before you and with you.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, God had been preparing my heart for this move for quite some time. This past January as I sat pondering my New Year’s resolutions, I felt a conviction to send small notes of thanks to individuals in my church who had impacted the life of my children and me. I spent a few afternoons penning my heartfelt gratitude to several friends. When I first felt that nudge, my thought was, “Oh dear, I’m dying, and this is my way of saying good-bye.” Clearly, I’m not a dramatic person. Instead, God was preparing me for this pending transition.
From the first day my husband and I began discussing the move, I began praying, “God, if this is your will I’m in, but if it’s not, let us know.” As we progressed in the process, I began to clearly see God’s hand. Pieces began to fall into place in a way that I knew wasn’t merely coincidence. Buying a house in a place you’ve only visited a couple of times can be harrowing. Fortunately, as homeschoolers, school districts weren’t such a big deal, but we wanted an area we felt would be a good fit for our family. In every area we felt we wanted to live, doors began to close. Homes were either too expensive or not available at all. With low expectations, we traveled north once more to meet our realtor. Our kids, who stayed home, sent a request for a yard and tree house. Our realtor had sent us about twenty homes to view online prior to our trip. When we arrived, all but four had sold. The first three houses we toured were clearly not meant for us. Discouraged, my husband and I drove to the fourth and final house on the list. Immediately, I felt a connection. The family who currently lived in the house homeschooled. The backyard was perfect. There was even a treehouse! It was one of the few homes that had both a guest bedroom and an extra room for our homeschool classroom.
Overcome with emotion and gratitude to God, we decided to send a note with our offer, telling the owners how we truly connected with their home and felt it was meant for us. Then we waited and prayed. Within 24 hours, we received a call from our realtor who said upon reading my note, the owner burst into tears and said she’d been praying for our family since deciding to sell their home. They accepted our offer without even looking at the amount. Never had I more strongly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. We had secured a home in Nashville, but we still had to sell our home. The day before our summer vacation, we listed our home, and it sold within 48 hours.
It seemed God was truly leading my family to Nashville. I also sensed change coming with my feeling of comfort in Birmingham. God calls us to a life of following Him, which rarely involves growing so comfortable in our current situation that we cease to grow and to trust in Him. I sense this move was an opportunity for my family and me to truly exercise our faith and lean entirely on Jesus. But, He didn’t call us then leave us. He has not only walked with us in this transition. He went ahead of us and prepared the way.
2. Friendships can withstand a little distance.
Let’s admit it. Making friends can be difficult at any age. True friendship involves baring our brokenness and being vulnerable enough to show our true selves expecting acceptance not rejection. That takes courage, and starting over is not easy. I had been blessed to find not one or two but a whole tribe of people who I loved and loved me. I had found my people, and now, I was leaving them. For me, this was honestly the hardest part of moving. In reality, though, distance doesn’t destroy friendships. Apathy does, so it’s up to me to continue to nurture my friendships from afar.
Years of forming these deep friendships have also prepared me for making new friends in Nashville. I’ve learned it’s okay to be myself. My Birmingham friends have seen me at my worst and at my best, and they still love me. My value isn’t built in what I can or can’t do, rather, it’s built on the fact that I am a beloved child of God. Period. I am worthy because He finds me worthy enough to die for. Building deep friendships over the years taught me this lesson, and it’s a lesson I don’t have to spend years re-learning in Nashville, so I’m diving into new relationships, hoping my children will find the courage to follow suit. And while I invest in new friendships, I’ll be texting, calling, Facebooking, Instagramming, and visiting my Birmingham girls.
3. My children are resilient.
Of course, my biggest concern with the move was how my children would process it. While my son handles change pretty easily, my daughter tends to be slower to warm. She, too, has built lifelong friendships with precious girls from our church and community. Like mom, A is learning that just because she’s three hours away, it doesn’t mean her Birmingham friends will forget about her. She and C both are also stretching their comfort zones and meeting new friends. This move, while difficult, has also been good for my children. It is teaching them about faith in action. God is allowing them to see Him at work in their lives in a very real, tangible way. This move has also drawn us closer as a family, as we all experience uncertainty and change together. They are coming into their own as they explore a new town.
Change is never easy, but God doesn’t guarantee easy. He does, though, guarantee His presence, and the guiding gift of His Holy Spirit. One thing I’ve wanted to do throughout the process of this transition is cling tighter. I’ve wanted to grab hold of my friends and not let go. I’ve wanted to cling to my house. I’ve wanted to grasp tightly my church family. I’ve wanted to wrap my fingers tightly around everything I love and keep it just as it is. But, God is calling me to open my grasp and loosen my hold, not so I lose what I’ve grown to love, but so I can let go of my way, take His hand and cling to His promises. As a result, I’ve opened my heart to more: more friends, more experiences, and ultimately, more love. The week we said see you later to our church family, one of my choir friends leaned over to me as I sat sobbing in the choir loft and said, “Look at it this way. You aren’t losing the friends you have now. You are gaining more.” And He’s right. God never limits our capacity to change, to grow, and to love. If this move has taught me anything, it is to trust in His goodness and His plan for our ultimate good even when I can’t see the outcome. I look forward to seeing what God has prepared for us in our new home.