Expect the Unexpected.
There are going to be hiccups along the way. You may experience an unfortunate cat leash situation. (See my previous post for more on that fun time.) Or perhaps you’ll worry the Uhaul lady is going to get crushed when she comments on how heavy your pod is en route with her forklift (true story). Something is going to go wrong. You’re living in a sin cursed world and the effects of that will most definitely come in during your travels and mess things up. So, proceed with an adventurous spirit! Do not hold tightly to a special plan, but entrust the Lord to equip you for the unexpected. If mom and dad are having this attitude, the kids will have a much better time too, which leads me to my next point…
Expect to be Extra Patient With Your Spouse.
Various emotions, thoughts, fears, and concerns are likely to flood both yours and your spouse’s mind at inopportune moments. Moving across the country is kind of a big deal. Leaving family is nothing anyone looks forward to. (Well, maybe some people do, but thankfully we are not in that camp.) Friendships take time and leaving behind strong friendships you have spent decades creating is nothing short of tragic. It is extremely painful and the reality of the loss is often pushed aside so we can as Elisabeth Elliot said, “Do the next right thing.” That is good and right but when the moving truck dust has settled and you’re in a town with no one you know or trust, it can be an overwhelming realization that can hit you at times you least expect. Driving down unfamiliar roads, seeing a picture of someone on social media and wondering if you’ll ever see them again… This is a hard path many of us have chosen. But, it is important to remember it is a hard thing we have chosen and so we must indeed, “Do the next right thing.” We must be there for our spouse when he or she is struggling. Many men have lost their jobs and are now fighting to remember who they are in Christ because it is a struggle and they feel as though they have lost their identity. Many women have said goodbye to the friendly faces at church and school who they saw as a support system and it is a struggle to imagine ever having that familiarity with anyone again. Remember, we are all just flesh and blood, prone to depression and anxiety, prone to doubt our every move. So, it is crucial that before you transplant your family to another state, you fill your heart and mind with every promise of God. You’re going to need to remind yourself and your spouse more times than you think. I would also strongly warn you against moving if you are in a high conflict marriage. Adding additional stress to an already stressed marriage is probably not the best idea. So, set things right, get counseling, tell your pastor, read your Bible! But, do not attempt to make this kind of move if you have big marriage drama. Get those things right so that the two of you can be a unified team before you take on this adventure. Remember, your children are watching. This is an opportunity to fill their minds with memories they will never forget. Make those memories beautiful and exciting! Do not add to the sadness they are already going to feel leaving behind family and friends. Use your God given influence in your children’s lives for good, especially because… you may need to…
Expect your children to be a pain in the butt.
Remember your kids are losing a lot. They are losing family, friends, their church, their school…. Many familiar things they loved will be completely gone so you need to approach your travels as an opportunity to show oodles and oodles of grace and love to your children. This is not a time to nit pick. This is not a time to require things that aren’t important or to try a new discipline strategy. This is a time to comfort each other, eat yummy junk food, laugh a lot, play the radio too loud and dream about the fun that is to come, all the while knowing there may be some pain in their little hearts that eventually will need to come out, maybe not during your move, maybe after you thought they had totally acclimated, but eventually they will mourn what they’ve lost and you need to be there with God’s promises readily available. (A warm brownie helps too.)
Expect to continue your habits and traditions.
I cannot emphasize enough how much the simple act of having a family movie night helped us during our first couple of months here in Tennessee. “Why?,” you ask? Because it was a weekly routine we always had in California that I could easily continue in our new home. Pizza, popcorn, candy, movie. All of the family together on the couch. Not rocket science, just a familiar moment for us all. Something we could always expect and something we always had looked forward to at our old home and could also look forward to in the new! Do not think for a minute that those little traditions you set up at your old house are not important in the new. Throw out what no longer works, but keep anything you can. You’ll be helping your family during this transitional period in more ways than you know. Also, don’t forget to help yourself out by continuing the healthy habits you had developed in your old state. Eating junk food on the road is to be expected, but also expect to get back into healthy routines when you arrive at your new place. I remember telling my husband one of my non-negotiable things that had to go in the Uhaul Pods were my dumbbells!
Expect to have a lot more time on your hands.
After the boxes are unpacked, you may find yourself looking at each other like, “Well, now what do we do?” No matter how busy a person you are, no matter how task oriented you are, I assure you you will experience boredom in your new home in your new state. It’s just going to happen. If you think about it, it makes sense because your schedule is immediately more free. The reason for that might be very sad. You probably have a freer schedule because you left people you love and used to regularly do things with. That’s sad and that sadness can take you out if you let it, leaving you unproductive and unfruitful in “doing the next right thing” to serve the people right in front of you. So, after you’re all settled, expect to take on a few more projects than you normally would. Learning how to smoke meats or properly hang Magnolia Stick and Peel Wallpaper (so easy and adorable, but, here’s a hot tip: don’t be like me and ignore the part of the instructions where it says you need two people. I learned the hard way.) There will be things like this you never felt you had time for at your old house and now all of the sudden, you do!
Expect to be allowed to speak freely and not feel weird.
You are now in a very different place than the place you came from. You are in a place that has attracted likeminded people, just as the blue state you came from attracted many likeminded people. Now, you are in the majority. When you go to the grocery store, people will not stare at you and yell, “Unclean!” as though you were a leper because you are not wearing a mask. When you open up with someone you met at church about your reasoning for moving your family across the country, you will immediately be met with nods and smiles of understanding. Red states attract likeminded people. On the one hand, isn’t all of this division so sad? On the other however, being in a place where your vote counts, your voice is heard and you aren’t called an intolerant, bigoted racist because you are an orthodox Christian, sure is a breath of fresh air!
Expect to be needed.
Recently, we decided on a home church and when our pastor’s family so kindly took us out for lunch and we shared with him our desire to become members and serve he said to us, “Oh good, because I need you!” It struck me that one of my misconceptions about leaving California was that we would no longer be needed. What a selfish, foolish thought! Wherever God moves you, I assure you, you will be needed right there in that neighborhood, in that school, in that grocery store, in that church. God gave you hard work to do in your old state and He will bring you hard work to do in the new. There are homeless to feed, orphans to adopt, and hurting, broken people who need the gospel in every city across our country. I promise you, you are needed wherever you go.
So, remember this journey is not going to be perfect. (Nothing on this side of heaven is.) But, it can be fun. It can be accomplished with compassion and kindness. It can be filled with grace and joy and laughter. May the Lord bless you wherever you are and may He strengthen you for your good and His glory in all your travels.