Four insights to help you get grounded

“God began by making one person, and from him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. God decided exactly when and where they must live. God wanted them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him and find him, though he is not far from any of us: ‘By his power we live and move and exist.’ Some of your own poets have said: ‘For we are his children.’” – Acts 17:26-28

It’s spring in the Northern Hemisphere now. And though parts of the US are still trying to kick winter out of the door, spring breaks and Easter automatically symbolizes a time of renewal and new beginnings regardless of the temperature. If you’re like me, I’m often looking for a boost, something to shift in my life when spring shows up. It could be as simple as watching the sunrise from my back porch. It’s also a time of big transition for many. Graduating seniors are preparing for their transition to college or a promising career in a new place. Families are ‘spring cleaning’ in efforts to sell their house and make a move in the summer. Engaged couples are frantically coordinating many moving pieces to merge two lives into one. For some, these transitions require moving across town. But for others, the change in season lends to moving to a whole new city, state or even country. Regardless of whether you’re approaching your first move or you’ve lost count, preparing emotionally and spiritually is key to having a successful transition when relocating yourself or your entire family. I’d like to share four insights that were helpful to me in my move from Northern Virginia to Austin, Texas in 2014.

1 – Visit the city and spend time with the locals beforehand

It takes a great deal of faith to pick up and move to a new place not having ever visited. For those on the mission field or in certain careers, like the military, the privilege of checking a place out first is usually not possible. I had the privilege of visiting Austin several times before pursuing a relocation since I traveled to Texas annually for work. While on a two-week business trip in Houston, I was able to visit Austin for the first time in 2013. I rented a car and took the 2.5 hour drive west for the weekend. I had heard great things about Austin, the people and the opportunities, but didn’t know if I could see myself settling down in the city. I didn’t know anyone in Austin, or so I thought (it’s a small world in our fellowship of churches). I reached out to friends in Dallas, who connected me with families they “knew of” in Austin. I got a response immediately from a family who opened their home and hearts to me. They handed over keys to the house and helped me navigate through the city. The sister made time to engage with me, not just provide a bed. She invited me to join her for yoga class and it was so cool to be a part of her life for the weekend. A single sister also invited me over for dinner. She shared about her life there and gave me advice on places to consider living. I am eternally grateful for these sisters for displaying the heart of Christ. Connecting with the Austin Church family gave me confidence in my decision to move into the community.

2 – Have grace on yourself as you wean off of your former church and ministry

Maintaining connections with disciples who were a part of your life in your formal city can make the difference of spiritual life and death the first year in your new digs. It’s easy to think that you’re “out of sight, out of mind” when moving from a place. Moving into something new can be frightening. New relationships take time and energy. It can get lonely as you figure out your place in all that is new. Expressing to my friends that I needed them was key. Prayer times with sisters and regular calls with my former co-leader were life savers. Texting and connecting with people that I had invested in in my old city helped me feel purposeful while navigating my new place. Praying for ministry events there and singing familiar worship songs from my ‘homechurch’ during quiet times gave me comfort. Sometimes it’s just the little things that provide encouragement for your soul during the transition. And if you have the means, schedule periodic visits back during your first year and ask others to come visit you in your new hometown.

3 – Serve early in your new ministry…and work through disappointments quickly

Every ministry, church and city is different. Often times we fall prey to setting expectations based on what we’ve experienced in the past; good, bad or indifferent. For this reason, it’s important to serve early. Don’t wait until you are approached, but find a need and give. No matter how big or small a church is, there are always opportunities to serve. Read more…