You are tired and homeless. Your belongings are packed away in boxes, and you’ve been on the road for three weeks now, visiting family and friends along the way to your new home. Two thousand miles have been added to the van’s weary odometer, and 2,000 more will click away before you arrive to unpack all those cardboard boxes you just assembled. You look forward to making a fresh start, but you can’t help wishing you didn’t have to say “goodbye” yet again to the friends and familiar places you discovered over the last few years. Moving never seems to get any easier. Now you have four kids, all under the age of seven. You just had a baby, and he’s keeping you up at night and doesn’t want to be put down during the day. You are tired, physically and mentally TIRED. But you have to keep going.
I want to remind you of an oft forgotten truth that stands out in this moment more than any other: earth is not your home. This transition is an opportunity to reexamine yourself outside of the context of a routine—which can also become a rut. Use this move to reevaluate how you want to live, and as you start over in a new place, build your new routine around this fresh perspective.
Plant trees. Live in each new place as though you’ll be there a long time, even if you know it will be temporary. Water your new relationships, and hope these new roots will go down deep enough to hold on in stormy gales and linger on even when you or they inevitably have to move on. God has given you this one chance to impact others around you: don’t squander it. It’s always better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. So put down roots, and plant trees in your back yard. You never know if you’ll still be there to enjoy them 20 years down the road or what joy they might bring to others who come behind you.
When everything is unfamiliar and the multitude of changes overwhelming, take time to remember all the things you can be thankful for. Those screaming children in the back seat of the van are a gift from God! You have four gorgeous, healthy kids; a loving husband; a van that runs; too much food to eat; wonderful paved roads; and you could probably go on all night naming your blessings! Focus on those.
There are ways to make even the most inhospitable new place “home” overnight. Think of smells, sounds, tactile sensations that remind you of home. Let your kids sleep with their favorite blanket or object every night, no matter where you are. Light up a fragrant candle, play familiar music, and you’re suddenly home again! Praise God for such mobile sensory triggers!
During this time of transition, reconnect with those people who have known you throughout much of your life. They’ll be there to listen to your new experiences and to remind you of who you are when you feel barraged with newness and a little lost in the midst of it all.
Don’t rush to get to your destination. Enjoy the journey. Step into a World Market for a sensory treat. Stop to soak your toes in a cool creek or stroll through an air conditioned mall for a refreshing break from the monotony of travel. Treasure the precious time in the car with your captive husband. Plan ahead and make a list of questions to ask him that you’ve never asked before. You’ll be surprised by how much you have yet to discover about your man.
Enjoy the purging that comes with every move—the opportunity to reevaluate your possessions and free yourself of the unused, unlovely, and unwanted. As you spend hours packing and unpacking, appreciate the vivid reminder to not accumulate so much in the first place.
Your family is your home. You get to carry them around with you, like a tortoise does its shell. No matter how insecure you feel in new places and new situations, at the end of the day, you’re a mom and a wife no matter where you are. Envelop yourself in that familiarity when the rest of the world is swirling out of your control.
The van feels more like home than any other place right now. That’s ok—it’s a good thing. It means you’ve got this travel thing down pat. Remember that it’s hard for any of us to function on little sleep, especially with a lack of routine and familiarity. Obey your own rule, Mama! You expect the kids to be nice even when they’re tired, so place a guard over your mouth, and say only the things you know would be honoring to the Lord. Yes, this is tough, but you know it’s so important to set a good example.
Finally, let people help you. You know it’s only pride that’s holding you back. Swallow it, and let them. Give them the opportunity to bless you and don’t try to repay them. Just pass it on, down the road when you’re in the position to do so.
God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Your weakness is an asset to Him. Don’t try to hide it or deny it. Lean back and put your feet up into the hammock of His grace, and let Him show his strength. Be amazed. Whenever people start to praise your ability to cope, sing His praises, and don’t let them think for a minute that you are a super hero. That praise belongs to God.
Mama, you are blessed. You’re going to make it through and find a new “normal” soon. I’m here to tell you, you’ll end up making it through and loving all the new places and fun adventures yet to come. God’s gonna be so good to you!
This is part of the series 31 Days of Encouragement for Mama that is running through the month of October. Check out all the posts in the series here.