One of the most hilarious misconceptions about moving to a new state is the idea that any character issue we struggled with before will magically disappear. “Once we ditch this blue state this kid will behave better! I’ll be more content! I’ll read more! I’ll exercise more!”… If only it were that easy! While certainly some living situations are more conducive to a better quality of life, (and I would argue the ideas behind red states are what provide a better quality of life for the people living in them – more on that here: http://redstateramblings.com/is-quality-of-life-better-in-a-red-state/) it is not true that you will immediately develop new habits and new character traits the moment you step foot in your new state! Because the fact remains you will still be you. We are all cultivating lifelong habits, regardless of where we live. We get very good at what we practice.
If you are characterized by the people who know you best as discontent, you will be discontent wherever you live!
If your child is lazy in their blue state, they will be lazy in the red!
If you are fearful in your old state, you will be fearful in the new!
If your marriage is filled with bitterness and problems – moving won’t help! (In fact, I don’t recommend making a big move if you’re in the midst of big marriage drama.)
Character traits are intrinsic. Outside forces are not going to change the character of a person. They merely reveal them. (Unless, of course that outside force is Jesus in which case I stand corrected!)
If you’re dreaming about being joyful in your new state, the very best thing you can do to ensure your future joy is to be joyful now – wherever you are. If you want to be a content, happy adult in your new state, work hard to be a content, happy adult right now!
How many times did we think in our teen years that once we were married, we would be truly happy? Once we got married, how many of us thought once we had children we would be happy? When our kids were babies we thought “Once they get older I’ll be happy (because I’ll be able to sleep!)”. Then we thought, “Once they’re happy, healthy adults…” And the list goes on and on. But, the fact of the matter is, throughout all of those silly scenarios playing out in our mind, LIFE was happening. We were either content and joyful or not. We were either working hard at the tasks before us in that season or we were not. How many of us wish we could go back and choose contentment and joy in those moments instead of hoping they would magically fall upon us at some future time?
As you are considering whether or not to move, remember life is still happening. The way you move may be just as important as the move itself. Be patient with your spouse now during this hard time when you’re up to your ears in moving boxes (more on packing for a big move here: http://redstateramblings.com/what-youll-regret-not-bringing-to-your-new-state-every-little-thing-you-wont/), be encouraging to your children and not critical, resolve to honor the Lord throughout this strange time.
If, however you fall into a discontent, overly critical trap (like we all do) recognize your bad attitude quickly and remember the gospel. You see the bad news. Now hope in Christ. His grace is sufficient and because of that you can be joyful and content right now.
Then, What’s the Point of Moving?
Outside forces are still important. They can be used to both reveal character and to help foster the kinds of character traits we are seeking to encourage in those within our sphere of influence. For instance, if we are seeking to encourage things like hard work in our children’s hearts, having plenty of chores for them to do is essential. (One of the many benefits of having a bigger yard!) If we want to be a quiet, contemplative person, it can help having a safe, quiet spot to sit and to think, read and pray. If we want to prepare for the coming apocalypse it’s helpful to have space for a garden (just kidding, just kidding… sort of.)
The right motivations for moving are so important. It’s SO important to have realistic expectations. Regularly tell yourself these truths.
- This move cannot solve mine or my families’ heart issues.
- This move cannot save the world from going bonkers.
- This move cannot satisfy my soul. (It was made for more – Jesus!)
- God is able to do abundantly more than anything I could ask or think through this move.
- God is the One Who led us to make this decision at this time and He has promised to never leave or forsake us.
- God has been faithful here and He will be faithful there.
If this is your mindset and your motivation for moving, you will be safeguarded from so much regret because you will have realistic expectations which will drive out worry and fear when hard times come (and they will). Then you will be able to clearly see the kindness of God in your move.
Living out here for less than 6 months, I have seen so much blessing – blessing I did not ask for because I didn’t know I needed it. God is that kind of Father. He doesn’t just blindly give us what we ask for like a desperate mother appeasing her crying toddler in the grocery store. He gives us the very best for our good and His glory. (I asked for a pool and God sent a mud pit but that’s a story for another time. I think maybe it’s because He knew I needed to learn how to joyfully mop the floor!)
And your move will be the same. You will experience unexpected blessings you weren’t anticipating and also hard trials because after all, no matter where we are living in this beautiful world God made, we are sinners living with other sinners. So make your move placing every bit of hope in the God Who directs your path, not in the path itself. The path will wind and bend. It will sometimes look very sunny and hopeful and other times very dark and hopeless, but our hope is in the unchanging One Who sees the beginning to the end and promises nothing less than His very presence and lovingkindness through it all.
Because He is the only One Who ever really changes a heart, we have every reason, no matter where we live, to hope in Him.
The Bible says that my real problem is not psychological (low self-esteem or unmet needs), social (bad relationships and influences), historical (my past), or physiological (my body). They are significant influences, but my real problem is spiritual (my straying heart and my need for Christ).Timothy S. Lane, Paul David Tripp, “How People Change”