After making a big move, connecting to your new state should be among your top priorities! The sooner you feel connected, the sooner your spouse and kids will feel connected and the sooner everyone will feel at home. Nobody enjoys feeling displaced and there are some practical things you can do to prevent that feeling from lasting long.
1. Trust God.
Things are going to work out exactly as they should. God led you to this particular place at this particular time in history. Don’t fret about the details. Pray and trust God. As our friend, Erik Meyers, has said, “Ask God for what you want. He’ll either give it to you or He’ll give you something better.”
2. Take Daily Walks in Your Neighborhood.
The best way to get to know people in your neighborhood is to refuse to hide from them! Hiding may be tempting if meeting new people isn’t your favorite pastime, but you’ll regret it in the long term if you do. Walking has a host of benefits, like lowering cortisol levels, giving you your daily dose of Vitamin D and providing quiet moments to think or chat with your spouse or child. I am so thankful my husband asks me to go on daily walks with him here in our new state. Forcing yourself to have friendly interactions with others is SO much healthier than the alternative option of hiding inside. Also, you have no idea how God will use the connections you’ve made with neighbors in the future. We’ve had neighbors teach us how to garden, have us over for dinner, fix our son’s dirt bike and level out our yard with a tractor, all because we met kindhearted people walking our neighborhood.
3. Have Your Kids Play Sports.
There is something that just screams the faithfulness of God when you watch your kids playing their favorite sport in their new state. Every state has kids (and red states don’t make you feel bad for having a lot of them!) so get those kids into their favorite sports, show up to the games and force yourself to chat with the friendly faces around you. It’s so refreshing to realize there are lots of hardworking people trying to raise their kids and live a quiet and peaceful life, just like you!
4. Join a Solid Local Church and Serve There.
The fellowship and camaraderie can’t be beat when you join forces with a solid local church. If your foundational beliefs are the same, your worldview will be the same, which will provide endless opportunities for personal growth and caring for others. I cannot emphasize the need for your family to hear the gospel over and over and over, especially during a big transitional time for your family. Some hopes may have been lost, but our God never disappoints. Give yourself and your family the Body of Christ as found in the local church.
Don’t be afraid to go outside and explore! So much of what we were told in California about Tennessee has proven to be untrue. People said, “The humidity is unreal. The bugs are everywhere. Snakes jump out of the trees!” While those things may be true in some places, thankfully, they have not been true for us. After all, there are air conditioners when humidity is rough, winter time wipes out all the bugs and, fingers crossed, we’ve not spotted any tree residing snakes!
Your new state has beauty you need to see and appreciate. (Plus, getting into nature is such an easy way to help cure a bad attitude. You can read more about how we’ve used it to help our family here: http://redstateramblings.com/nature-the-best-cure-for-the-grumps/).
6. Support Local Businesses.
It’s fun, rewarding and will cast your ex Californian self in a better light with the locals, if you support small business in your area. Don’t be afraid to try new stores you weren’t accustomed to seeing in your old state. You may be pleasantly surprised! (There’s a place over here that sells stuff Target currently has on its shelves for a fraction of the price!)
7. Use Social Media to Get in the Know.
Join local facebook groups, rsvp to attend community events, get your family packed up and GO! It will help you feel part of the community when you do life with the community.
8. Don’t Be a Jerk.
Remember your place. You and your family are the newcomers so don’t be jerks who complain. Be grateful and remember the helpful Proverb: “Humility comes before honor” Proverbs 18:2b. Best to serve in your new state before making suggestions or offering criticism. Locals in your new state may be feeling concerned that all of us blue state refugees will change what they’ve created, so make it clear with the locals that you’re so thankful to be here and you’ll never vote for any of the bad ideas you just fled in your blue state! (You can read more about why blue state ideas destroy communities here: http://redstateramblings.com/hollywood-lies-paradise-lost/.)
9. Keep Your Traditions and Add to Them.
Celebrating a holiday in your new state doesn’t have to feel completely weird. Do whatever you can to continue the traditions and memories you’ve created in your old state but don’t feel bad if those traditions look a little different. Your new state will bring new experiences that will only add to your family’s memory bank.
10. Put off Busy-ness & Put on Curiosity and Contentment.
Give yourself and your family an identity of being both curious and content. If you are afraid of new people and choose to hide from them, it’s going to be difficult to undo that character trait. (You can read more about why we get good at what we practice here: http://redstateramblings.com/why-changing-your-address-can-never-change-your-heart/.) Instead, be curious. That doesn’t mean you should allow your child to hang out with a neighbor you don’t know. (That would be foolish and negligent!) But, it does mean you should let yourself have an ounce of curiosity so you’ll be ready to make a new friend when trust has been established. You’ll never be able to trust anyone in your new state if you don’t allow yourself to be curious about them.
And lastly, be content. For the Christian, because we know this world is not our ultimate home or hope, we have every reason to throw off unrealistic expectations of our new state being some sort of utopia and embrace both the rugged and lovely, the tragedies and triumphs, the disappointments and pleasant surprises. Be content with God’s plan for your life. There is no other option if you want to feel at home.
Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.Charles Haddon Spurgeon