Ten weeks have already passed since my maudlin post in mid-July. Ten weeks since I confessed that I wanted to bring everyone and everything to western North Carolina except myself.
Not that I didn’t want to move here. I have been fascinated by this region of the country since I was a little girl, and to live here in this season of our lives is a dream come true. But I was sick of being so sappy-sentimental about leaving everything known and familiar.
We lived in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton for 16 years, several years longer than our two previous pastorates. We’ve put down deep roots wherever we’ve lived, and we were fortunate to move only three times – from NH to Cape Cod to IL – in over 40 years of pastoral ministry. Mike and I loved our church (where would we find another like it?), my job in the publishing industry (what would I do without my work family?) and the opportunities that an academic community provided (where else could I have finally gotten that long-awaited grad degree?)
In Joan Chittister’s beautifully reflective book The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully, she writes:
Clearly, the first great confrontation with age comes with separation from the familiar. When the world that was and the world that is are on opposite sides of a fault line, the present unlike what was before, when the lifelines shatter, then real change has arrived.
How about you? Are you dealing with change too? Sometimes it’s welcome even though challenging – as with our long-planned and anticipated retirement and relocation. Many times, however, change comes unsought and unwanted.
Dozens of you kindly responded to my last post in July, and here’s some of what you have taught me:
- Acknowledge the loss that change brings.
“It’s called grief. Lament. And it’s perfectly normal in these circumstances. God knows, Keep weeping and talking to him about change and loss. But I’m glad you ended with Psalm 90 because that is the promise we can all embrace.” – Cindy
“Change is hard, scary and an unknown entity. Time moves on and brings change with it, wiping the slate one more time, often with our tears.” – Melissa
“Jesus wept even though he knew he was going to bring Lazarus back to life.” – Claire
“‘Why does dismantling a home feel like dismantling a life?…’ I know that the official reason is that place holds memory, and memory creates expectation. And without memory, there is no hope for the future. But why it rips your soul out…I’m not so sure I understand.” – Sandy
2. Take time to recall unexpected blessings from the past.
“Remember when you first moved to New Hampshire in 1979? You knew almost no one here and had no job prospects, but God moved in a miraculous way to provide your dream teaching job at DWC along with a chance to do summer stock. We were so excited for you!” – Ellen
“Remember Lot’s wife? Never look back at the wonderful past 16 years but to the future city God has prepared for you. You will find God waiting for you there.” – Bev
“Grief unravels in the letting go, but as you once told me, the story is not done being written yet. It helped to hear those words when we were going through difficulties on Cape Cod; your encouragement lifted my chin to continue to hope in my God. And your story, co-authored and written by God Himself, is still being written.” – Miki
3. Open your heart to new friends and experiences.
“It’s not disloyal to those you’ve left behind to welcome the new. Just as you had room in your home and your heart for more than one child, all equally loved, so your heart is expanding to embrace people and experiences in your new location.” – Margie
“Like Abraham (called to leave home and go to another land), you are going in faith, not knowing what’s on the other side. But God is already there!” – Stephanie
“I just want you to know that we will be your people when you get here. Friends are waiting on the other side of your journey!” – Michelle
“There are already people in NC who love you, and I’m pretty sure there will be more soon. God has a purpose and a place for you. We continue to pray for the 3 of you and are asking God to wipe your tears and allow this time to be more exciting than painful.” – Miriam
Friends, I have reread your words many times in the past ten weeks. Perhaps in sharing them today they’ll encourage someone else going through change just as they have me.
And the good news is that, of course, you were absolutely right. While we miss our friends, our church and the familiarity of our former lives in the Midwest, we absolutely love it here at Peace Ridge! I have much to tell you in the days to come,
But for now we’ll end with my favorite comment of all fromlongtime friend Debby in Texas:
“Let the tears flow. They water the friendships that one day will grow!”