Moving from one home, state, or country to another is a strange amalgamation of hassle and excitement. It’s usually a big mess. Often an emotional one too. Still, if you’ve done it enough times the manual-labor aspect becomes second nature, and it’s easier to enjoy the creative and social opportunities that come along with such change. New ways to arrange the furniture, neighbors to meet, etcetera.
But at the age of 29 I have moved 15 times. Only 4 were state or transnational moves but combined with all of the apartment/house/city re-locations in between, I’ve always felt like somewhat of a nomad. You should see the pictures of me at 5 years old, standing by the “SOLD” sign on the front lawn of that little blue house on Bradley Street in St. Paul, my face red and puffy from crying. It was the second home I’d lived in but the first one I remembered. We were leaving the only church and friends I’d known and gallivanting off to “the land of fruits and nuts”: California. Since then, my memories have been compartmentalized into chunks according to what house we lived in, where. Minnesota for nearly 6 years (2 homes), Santa Clarita for 3 (2 homes), South Africa for almost 1 (3 homes), back to Santa Clarita for 6 (1.5 homes), to Lancaster for 3 (1 home), back to Santa Clarita again for 4 (college dorms), then Arkansas (5 homes)…
The longest I have resided in the same house is 6 years. But I did live in California a total of 17 years. Viewed that way, it really doesn’t seem so bad.
On the opposite of the spectrum from “not so bad” is the wonderful blessing that I’ve been able to visit 9 other countries. Visit lengths ranged from 4 hours to 9 months, and I am incredibly grateful to have seen so much of the world. That first international trip — moving to South Africa at the age of 8 — instilled in me a deep love for traveling. I love the atmosphere of an airport at 5:15 a.m., even when the lines are long. They’re great places to meet people too, all sorts. [We saw Jerry Mathers in the Phoenix airport (my dad spoke with him), and at LAX my sister and I “met” Kiefer Sutherland in the baggage claim when he tripped, bringing all three of us and our suitcases tumbling to the floor in a heap.]
More to the point. From the suburbs of Johannesburg to the delicious little Italian place on the Thames in London, from horseback-riding in the Jordanian desert to walking the magnificent halls of Pergamon Museum in Berlin, travel has lent real perspective to my worldview and led to wonderful friendships across the country and around the world. I’m very aware that these are not blessings granted to all who desire them, and I am extremely grateful to the Lord.
When it comes to the future, naturally I’ve often mulled over for what purpose God orchestrated my life this way. Of course there are the primary reasons of sanctification, character and personality development. I know He’s given me a desire to do some kind of Christian mission work and evangelism in foreign places, though my makeup is not such that I want to do so alone. Specifically in regard to future moves, I’ve wondered, is He preparing me for more? Or, knowing that He placed within me a love for travel and a certain enjoyment of change, could He perhaps have prepared me to be content with one place for the rest of my life? Sometimes I struggle with envy of those who’ve enjoyed an established home in the same area, near family, for many years. The homebody part of me really wants that, too. The positives and possibilities of both ways of life are clear to me. And I realize it doesn’t have to end up being one or the other; for all I know my future could simply be a mixture similar to what most Americans experience.
This summer, I realized I’d been in Little Rock for 6 years. Something about that gave me an inkling, a sneaking hunch that change should be on the horizon. But I have a great job, a comfortable little apartment shared with my sister (a situation which has vastly improved our relationship), an amazing church family, and many dear friends. Richly blessed! If God leaves me here, my heart would long for some get-up-and-go but I certainly would have no reason to complain.
If He picks me up and nudges me out the door again, well…bring it on. May I always seek His will first and pursue contentment with His plan.