We have gotten used to moving. The first year of our marriage we moved from Missouri to California and worked as interns in a church Jared’s brother Matt helped start. After that our relocating was due to Jared’s medical school and training. Four years in Columbia, Missouri for medical school (where Elias was born), four years in Ann Arbor, Michigan for residency (where Cohen was born) and one year there while Jared worked as an ER attending physician. Next we had our first stint in New Zealand. That was 2012, Elias was five and Cohen was two years old. We were excited to move closer to family after that, so in 2014 we moved to Louisville, Kentucky. In late January of 2017 we moved back to New Zealand for another three month stint. The only reason I share all this is because there is something about packing up, saying goodbye, and starting over that can get almost addictive.
There are so many emotions involved, as many of you know. It’s terribly hard to say goodbye to friends that have been like family and become your community for that season. It’s challenging and overwhelming to pack up a house and wonder how possessions accumulated so easily and quickly. (Jared always claims to want to give everything away as he loads and unloads another truck with our things.) At the same time I enjoy looking for a new place to live and thinking about décor and learning about a new part of the world. The more we move, the more I realize there are amazing people all over.
It’s freeing to not commit to things because I know I’m leaving soon. It deepens the relationships between the four of us in our family because we experience all these changes and challenges together. (I know we also miss out on what it’s like to live in the same town with friends and forge relationships built on decades spent together.)
We all have different preferences and priorities in life. My parents for instance still live in the house they built when they were first married and that I grew up in. They have lived in that same spot for almost fifty years! Needless to say they think we are crazy and don’t understand why we enjoy continuing to uproot our lives. Adventure and exploring seem to be a part of the way Jared and I both operate.
The danger in all this is, it’s so easy to look forward to the next thing and miss the present. It’s easy to focus on the downfalls of that house, the hurt feelings that happened in that place, the restlessness I felt there, and look to the next phase to make me feel better or think I will be happier moving here or living there. I am reminded again and again that Jesus alone can satisfy my heart and give me meaning and purpose.
I see it played out in a familiar way through my kids. They earn an allowance and have learned to save and give, but of course love spending. They just need that one more Lego mini-figure to make their life complete. Days, or sometimes hours after receiving and playing with it, they are telling me about the next great thing they need. I roll my eyes at them and tell them to be content and enjoy what they have. How often I fail to hear my own advice?
I have been working through a Bible study on my own while in New Zealand these last couple months. It has once again opened my eyes to how I try to fill my heart cravings in ways that don’t satisfy. The study is called No Other Gods by Kelly Minter. I highly recommend it. We are easily deceived by thinking just one more thing , person, craving etc. will bring true joy. We have lived in 11 different homes during our 14 year marriage. All of them have led to various challenges and adventures, both inside our family and with people whom we had the pleasure to do life with during that period. But none of those experiences, adventures, or friendships has completely satisfied the deep cravings in my heart.
One of my favorite verses I worked through in the study is Psalm 146:5-6. The message is simple but profound. “Joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” Jesus loves us so much and gave up his life so that we can live and enjoy him forever! He created each of us and calls us by name. He gave us our talents and weaknesses. He directs our steps and delights in the details of our lives! He has designed each of us for something special that will bring glory to His name. He is our helper and friend. He will not hurt our feelings, or lose His temper with us, or speak harshly; he calls us beloved. Turn to Him, look to Him, abide in Him and He will fill your heart with a peace and joy that cannot be taken away no matter your circumstances or where you live! You can safely place and find your contentment in Him.
I have to daily remind myself of this truth when I find myself unsatisfied by the things and the people in this world. If my hope and joy are found in Jesus and who He claimed to be and the incredible love He freely gives me, then it won’t matter if I live on the beaches of New Zealand, or in a pretty cardboard box on the side of the road. I can still experience true joy and find contentment.