What Moving To A New City Taught Me About Life

When we made the decision to move from Minneapolis to Chicago, I don't think I had any comprehension of the storm that was about to hit. I had just had a baby five days before, had a 20 month old toddler clinging to my leg and must have been on some sort of post-partum drug I didn't know about to have agreed. It set in motion the hardest, most difficult year of my life thus far, but it also began a refining, purifying and growing process that I never would have experienced had I not gone through it.

Moving to a new city where you don't know anyone is certainly a leap of faith - and one that a lot of people are scared to do. But now on the other side, I can say that I think everyone should try it at least once, because the growth and life lessons gleaned along the way are invaluable. Here's what moving to a new city taught me about life:
  • Moving doesn't separate a family. In Minneapolis, I had most of my husband's family within a 20 minute drive, and my family was only three hours south in Iowa. While I first learned this lesson when I moved from Iowa to Minnesota, I learned it again when I moved again from Minnesota to Illinois and my closest family was suddenly five hours away. But if anything, some of my relationships have become deeper with the move because the time I do get to spend with them is so precious and we're so intentional with it. Plus, with video chat, FaceTime, Voxer and all the other amazing technology out there now, I keep in touch with some family members multiple times a day and my kids talk back and forth with their cousins all the time. Moving hasn't pulled us apart, if anything it's drawn us closer together as we strive to keep extended family a priority. 
  • The world is full of amazing people. One of the things I was most scared of was leaving the strong community I had built in Minneapolis. Leaving my mom-friends, old colleagues, church home and neighbors, I was fearful I wouldn't be able to find people like them again. But wouldn't you know, world is full of loving, kind, caring people and I've been amazed by the depth of the friendships I've already built. Great people live all over the globe, and I'm thankful to know a few more. 
  • Time helps you learn to like something. I really, really, really didn't like Chicago when I first got here. Many things looked and functioned differently - and I found myself picking apart everything from the way the streets were laid out to the quality of the parks to the grocery store options. I compared everything to what I used to have and decided on the spot that "It was worse." But being here for a year, knowing how to get around without GPS, and just getting more familiar with the area has completely changed my mind. Things are different, yes, but time has allowed me to stop comparing and to see and enjoy the good things about the city. And realize the things that are better - and that if I moved back, I probably wouldn't like. Ha!
  • Friends can be like family. I've always been blessed with really strong, supportive family relationships - even from my extended family. And I was fearful moving far away from family would leave me stranded and unsupported because there was no family member around that had a "duty" to help me. But I was so wrong. As I said, the world is full of amazing people, and slowly but surely friends are becoming like family to me. Whether it's bringing me meals and sweet gifts of encouragement, babysitting my kids in a pinch, or just hanging out and letting me cry or laugh until I cry (I'm a big crier, what can I say?) - some of the women I've built relationships with here are truly like family. 
  • You grow the most when life doesn't go to plan. When moving, everything is in chaos. There are a lot of things that don't go to plan, and for me, even the move wasn't part of "my plan." But the growth I experience over the past year - spiritual and emotional - has been exponential. (Thank goodness the growth has not been physical!) Moving ripped away my security blankets and forced me to figure out who I was and what I found my strength in. Because my identity could no longer be in my community, in my home, in my perfectly laid plans, and even in myself - who was verrrrry unreliable - I had to lean on my faith, in the one person who is unchanging, immovable, and loves me more than I could ever comprehend. 
  • You can't do it all, but you will get what needs to be done, done. It truly is a myth that "you can do it all." But, somehow, you will get the important things done. When moving, you're buried in things "to-do," and often it feels so overwhelming to leave one place and get settled in another. But things have a way of working out and while the buzz of stress was a familiar sound in the back of my mind, I learned to just "do the next thing," and my small efforts eventually paid off to where the tasks weren't coming quite so fast. It was weird, one day I felt like we were still "wrapping up the move," and the next I realized it was done! There was nothing left to do but to enjoy being "settled." 
  • You are more resilient than you know. During the move, there were so many days I just wanted to hide in an empty bathtub and just stare at a blank wall I was so tired and overwhelmed. And I confess, there were days that I did! But each time it happened, I got back up and dove back into life. Motherhood is a sure way to realize your resilience, but moving is another. I learned about my ability to bounce back and roll with life's punches, and I know I'm better for it. 
  • Home really is where your heart is. My family truly makes up my best friends and as long as I have them I'm home. Even when I didn't know a soul in my new city, I just had to look at my children or my husband and remember that I have everything that's important in life right next to me, and in the end, that was what mattered. 
  • Finding new opportunities takes risk. Moving has opened so many doors for me that I never would have had if we had not come to a new city. It was a risk to move, and it's also been a risk for me to put myself out there to meet new people, serve in my church and even start up new projects (like Risen Motherhood). But each time I've taken a leap of faith, I've been amazed by the doors that have opened. I'm so glad I've taken risks over the past year - beginning with the move - because there are so many opportunities I would not have experienced if I hadn't.
Basically, moving makes you feel indestructible. It solidifies who you are and makes you agile, adaptable, open to changing and moulding as you need to in life. And honestly? That's a pretty good skill set to have.  Many of you long-time readers have walked through this move with me, and you've see just how hard it was for me. There were some really dark, dark days in there, but you know what? The darkness has finally, generously, graciously lifted and it feels like now is the time to enjoy the sweetness of the light. Things are not perfect of course, there are still hard things, things I can't even talk about here on the blog. But overall I'm truly thankful that we've moved and the lessons I've learned along the way. 

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