In the US military, a permanent move is called a PCS (permanent change of station). We are gearing up for a move to Okinawa, Japan, where we will live for the next three years.
As we prepare for a move, we have lots of emotions. As usual, our kids need more hugs and a slower reaction time from mom. It is confusing to feel sad and happy and afraid and eager all at once. One feeling that comes is feeling out of place again. Once again, we go to a new place, where we know few people. Routines are disrupted, and even predictable routines change somewhat.
What do we talk about when it comes time to move or a big change?
- First, we spend time rehearsing how God has led us in the past. This one is easier not to do all the talking. I ask the kids, What has God done for us here in San Antonio? Their answers are fun and insightful. Birding. Living on a street next to friends. All three children making a profession of faith. Getting to know neighbors and being able to love them in tangible ways. We’ve had this conversation several times.
- We have talked a good deal about how God is reminding us today that He is already in Okinawa. In particular, the children have been eager to meet a birder that I’ve corresponded with. I have been able to contact several people in Okinawa who have given helpful information to my children. I am thankful for these reminders of God’s lovingkindness.
- I spend time rehearsing God’s work to my friends and family. I have three eavesdroppers who are paying attention when I talk about what God is doing, what I am afraid of, and what I am looking forward to. Talking about God with my friends helps ME, but it also helps my children.
- We pray together about our move. We ask God to help us find a good church. We are praying that God will give us wisdom about getting our dog to Japan (no small feat, we are learning). We are praying that God will comfort us when we feel sad about leaving our friends, and that God will give us courage to find new friends.
- I plan to ask the children this question “Who in the Bible moved, and what does the Bible say about that move?” I can think of a bunch of moves in the Bible.
- We remind them that feeling out of place helps us to remember that our home is in heaven, not on earth. Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
- We remind them that it’s quite normal to feel eager and a little afraid at the same time. Paul LONGED for his friends, and that longing motivated him to pray for them.
For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:8-11
Every big change in life causes us to feel unsettled in some way or another. It gives us an opportunity to think through and express what really matters in life, what is eternal.