When my husband Justin and I decided to move over 800 miles away from our family and friends, away from the known to the very unknown, we asked ourselves more than once, "Are we sure about this?"
We realized there was no turning back when the company Justin would be working for sent a relocation packet and his start date. We began hunting online for homes, which was exciting in itself. And I, being a city girl through and through, wanted to live just north of the small city where Justin would be working, in a much larger city that actually had a Starbucks. Yeah I know, I’m pathetic.
Along with the excitement of a new adventure came sadness and fear. We both felt incredibly guilty about taking our boys—the only grandchildren in both our families — away from their grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Our immediate families live within 15 minutes of each other and our extended families are all in the Midwest as well. Who’d possibly want to leave all that?
One of the reasons we took the job was just to try something new. We needed a fresh start, a change in our lives. To kind of "discover" our family in a new and unfamiliar environment. While we intend to settle down in one place eventually, now seemed like the right time to take a chance. We’re young, our kids are too small to really know the difference, so why not? It seemed like fun, and we hoped to grow in our marriage, as parents, and most importantly in Christ.
We definitely had it good with our immediate families so nearby. We went to church where my father-in-law was pastor and that my family also attended. The problem was that we lived about an hour away from the church, so we weren’t very involved in any small groups or other ministries within the church, and we weren’t actively making friendships with other Christians. We were still living in "college mode" as we mostly hung out with friends from work and school. We were comfortable in the life we were living, both Justin and I were distant from Christ, and we just knew we needed a change.
People constantly reminded me that I’d be lonely after the move. Like I needed to be reminded. I feared being home all day with two children under the age of three. There were so many uncertainties. Would we find a good home church? Would we make friends? Would our boys be happy? Would we be happy? Would we grow in our love and knowledge of the Lord?
It’s been just over a year since we arrived. All the boxes have been unpacked, and we’ve settled in quite nicely. It definitely feels like home.
I didn’t have a car the first few months here, but that had its benefits. I got pretty well organized and the house all decorated. We live in a fabulous neighborhood — which God really blessed us with considering we bought our home
sight unseen, except for internet pictures — complete with a private park. I seized the opportunity to get involved by volunteering to be our neighborhood association treasurer. It’s an easy job, and I’ve met people in our neighborhood this way.
We church "shopped" for about six months. We were both getting very frustrated with the process of finding a church home. I prayed that God would guide us, and one day I opened my e-mail with a link to a site from a friend that listed churches in the area. We tried them all. The last one was a church plant. We went to the service of about twenty people in attendance and after our first Sunday there, we knew this was the place for us. Since then, we’ve joined a small group, both Justin and I serve on the worship team, and we’ve been making the effort — as have others — to cultivate and grow in relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
There were days where I’ve wondered why we did all this. Days where I’ve been lonely and missed the nearness of our families. But mostly I’m happy. I’m learning a lot about myself, about my husband, and my boys. In some ways it’s been like buying a new pair of shoes, breaking them in, and learning to love them as I trod down this new path.
Of course, I miss the ease of the life we left behind. A great church home where both our parents went, meeting friends for lunch or coffee, life in a city I knew like the back of my hand, and having our families so close by. However, discovering a new city, meeting new people, and finding a new church has had its perks too. It’s definitely been an adventure.
The best thing though, is that I’ve realized how very little I know about Christ.
I remember the day I accepted Christ into my heart very well. I was five years old and in my parents’ bedroom with my mom. During those years as a young child, I had a passion for Christ even though my understanding was minimal. During my teenage years however, I floundered. I cared about the Lord, but only when it was convenient for me. I wasn’t a "bad" kid, but people certainly didn’t see me any differently than themselves.
When Justin and I met during my senior year of high school, we were both in similar places. We knew of our need for Christ, but loved ourselves more. We married in 2002, and spent the first five years of our marriage on a rollercoaster. Sometimes we were eager about growing in our relationship with Christ and other times we ignored Him for months. We really only went to Him when we needed Him.
The move was exactly what I needed in my spiritual life, even though there were times I didn’t like our decision. It was the jump start I needed to immerse myself more and more into Scripture. To spend more time with Him daily.
Through my time with Him, He’s revealed some of His mysterious ways to me. He’s been teaching me. I’m learning to be less stubborn, to love others more. To listen better. That He really does matter more than anything. That I love myself too much, and Him too little. I’ve come to see that He’s so much bigger than any challenge life can throw at us.
So whether I’m in a new place or a place I’ve always known, I’m finding there’s still so much I can learn about my Savior.
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Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
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