Our family moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. And then one week later, we left.
One step forward, two steps back…
Actually, we left for vacation – 26 hours of driving back to what still feels like home, but isn’t, and to places where our history still tugs on our heartstrings, but can’t be our present reality
The relief of welcoming arms, long-term friendships, and family relationships embraced us like the salty air: cool, comfortable, and without pretense.
When life changes happen (like a ministry move, a significant loss, or a job transfer) a new normal is thrust upon us. We have an immediate choice to adapt – or not. Depending on the circumstances, we can choose to dive in to the starting–over of life, and the writing of a new chapter. Or we can resist by clinging to what once was.
We’ve moved a lot in the twenty years we have been married. I’ll be the first to admit that, in my twenties, these moves were exciting. My husband and I lived on the precipice of adventure when we were young. We looked at ministry relocation and a new home with great anticipation.
But as I’ve gotten older, (and now that we have moved away several times from people and jobs we have loved dearly), I have a keen sense of the amount of energy it takes to start life all over again.
And this is kind of where I have sat for the past 11 months since we started over…again.
Two new houses (first a rental, now our own), new neighborhoods, new ministry, new country… Each footstep has felt measured, like it just might take the last bit of energy that I have.
But I’ve still taken the steps…
I’ve had to, otherwise I would sink under the weight of my own resistance.
So, how do you make a new home when circumstances dictate that you can’t stay where you’ve been? Here are some key steps I take. In fact, I will be taking many of these as soon as we get back to our new home from vacationing at our old one…
Seven Crucial Steps to Make a New Home
Tie Some Ribbons Before You Leave
The reality is that things don’t stay the same. The people you are leaving behind will keep on living and changing, just like you will. As you prepare to move, wrestle with the sadness of leaving, and allow some closure to come to your relationships.
A few will rise to the surface as friendships you will be willing to cultivate from a distance over the long haul. You’ll know which ones those are. For the rest, spend time thanking God for the season you’ve had together, and have open conversations that display your gratitude for the relationship you’ve had.
Give yourself permission to tie a bow on this segment of your life before moving on.
If you have the luxury of time to house hunt, and the ability to spend time in your new area for a bit, take advantage of it! Drive all over, walk through neighborhoods, sit in parks. What personality do different areas have? Where do you feel the most you?
I was fortunate enough to be able to pair house-hunting with teaching one of my sons to drive. With a willing chauffeur who needed to accrue driving hours, we ran the roads and got a great feel for the areas that felt most like us.
God is already in this next season ahead of you, and He can place people perfectly. Be patient to seek Him in this. Drive, walk, and sit until He shows you where to put down your roots.
Allow Yourself to Dream of your New Home
There are always things to feel a little nervous about when heading into a new chapter. But don’t allow fear of the unknown to overshadow your hopes of what might be. Be proactive to dream. Joy comes in the morning.
What stages of life will you (and your family members if you have them) potentially celebrate in this new home? Is this going to be a developing season, or a simplifying one? What milestones might be coming up in the next few months or years? Ask God the help birth dreams in your heart and mind for what is to come.
Once you figure out where to live, let your imagination run wild about how to permeate your home with your personality. Large renos or small DIY projects give you permission to invest your heart and soul into your new home. Joanna Gaines is my hero in this regard, sharing great insights about it in The Magnolia Story. Whether you are a professional decorator or not, let your personality shine!
Consider Your Potential Impact
It’s so easy to approach a move to a new home with a list of our own needs. But what if we came to it from the standpoint of the potential impact we might have there? Could God have a specific community for us to pour into?
Spend time considering what gifts you bring to the table. How might you most naturally impact the people in the neighboring apartments or houses at your new home?
Check out The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door to get an awesome perspective about your call to your neighbors. What new relationships might God be preparing for this next season of life? Where might God want us to let joy loose? When we approach home shopping from the perspective of our potential impact in addition to our own needs, I guarantee we will look at our neighborhoods with different eyes.
People love to be heard. Your new neighbors all have stories they’ve lived and stories their lives are still writing. The very best thing you can do to show them value is to learn them. Ask questions, and pay rapt attention to their answers. You are being written in.
And come to these conversations prepared to share a bit of yourself too. If the people around your new home are people God has placed in your life, it’s easier to dive right in than to let the awkward silence happen…you totally know what I mean! 🙂
Allow Yourself to Re-visit
From my moving experiences, it’s best not to return to the place you’ve left right away. But it is important to re-visit at some point, if you are able. I’d recommend waiting at least a year.
Two things are important about this return:
1) It is a good touch-point with people you know and love. It allows you to be able to share, face-to-face, what God has been doing in your lives.
2) It also helps you see the reality that things don’t stay the same. The place and people you left are not frozen in time, waiting for you to come back. Seeing that they’ve moved on gives permission for you to do so as well.
Learn From Where You’ve Been
Some of us have moved a dozen or more times. Others have planted deep roots and intend to remain forever. Still, change may be coming. And either way, the past not only impacts our future, it prepares us for it.
What things about your former home did you love that you can bring to your new home? What life changes can you make right now for this new season? What mistakes can inform your next steps, and what best practices can you bring forward?
Learn from where you’ve been, but embrace the adventure of the road ahead.
One Step Forward…
Sometimes change is thrust upon us. We usually have a choice about how to respond to it. Whatever it is that brings about the move to a new home, find God in it. His joy will be there too. Each of these seven steps may need to be taken one at a time, but each will help in the process of discovering a new normal in a new chapter. So start by taking that first step; it’s exciting to consider what God might do.
Your turn: What advice do you have for people getting ready to settle in to a new normal in a new home? Comment below!