After the Boxes are Unpacked

by Laura Parker
Source: Christian Woman Today

Have you moved recently? Or do you know someone who has? Moving can be emotionally difficult in even the best of circumstances. We feel uprooted, giving up our sense of community and of being connected.

As one who has moved 14 times, Susan Miller is a woman who understands what”s it like to try to put down new roots. To reach out to and help others who recovering from the trauma of moving, Susan began Just Moved Ministry.

Susan shares some of her wisdom and encouragement in this interview with Christian Women Today.

CWT: How many women move each year?

There are over 40 million people who move every year; we live in such a mobile society! Moving and transition seem to be very common among families, among single women, and among single moms.

CWT: Moving can create a sense of loss and longing for what is left behind. How does a woman recover emotionally?

It’s a three-step process that I take a woman through in my book. First is letting go, second is starting over, and third is choosing to move ahead with your life.

By letting go and leaving behind any encumbrances that would prevent you from starting over and moving ahead, you begin to allow God to mend any feelings and emotions that would keep you from being a whole, happy, healthy and productive woman.

Then as you start over, you face the feelings of loneliness and loss of identity and inadequacy that threaten you. You have to learn to build your nest all over again and recognize the effects that moving has on you, has on your children, or has on your marriage. It’s really an opportunity to start over and allow God begin to mold you.

And then of course, that third step in that process after you move, is then choosing to move ahead with your life, to take your eyes off of yourself, to begin to look outwardly to what God is teaching you. And that allows God to mature you.

CWT: In your book, After the Boxes are Unpacked, you talk about the difference between “clinging” and “cherishing.” What should a woman cherish, and what should she cling to after a move?

That’s a great question. It’s very important to understand the difference between cherishing and clinging, because it can be a real turning point for us once we understand the difference. To cherish something means “to hold in mind, to treasure it, to value highly.” To cling to something means to “cleave it or to clutch it or to hold on to it.”

And if you apply those definitions to moving, you will cherish what was, yet you will cling to what is and what never changes. You will cherish what you left behind and you will cling to what you brought with you. In other words, you want to cherish your distant family and your friends, and the job that you may have left behind, and the house that you loved, and the place that you loved. But you want to cling to God, cling to your faith and prayer and to His promises. You want to cling to your values and to each other. If you choose to cling to the past rather than cherish it, that will keep you from moving forward. You will be come stuck because you are clinging to that which you should be cherishing.

CWT: You have moved 14 times. How has your relationship with God been affected by the moves?

You know, all of my moves were different in that some were hard moves, some were planned. Some were a chance to start over. Some were very difficult emotionally. Without all of those moves, I would never know God at the depth that I know Him. When you are alone and when you don”t know anyone, and when you have no one to turn to, you really know then that God is who He is… that He is sovereign, that He is the one that is always there, that He never changes. Everything in your life may change, but He will not change. It was His desire through all of that to draw me closer to Him. Indeed He did.

CWT: What practical advice can you offer for a woman trying to put down roots in a new place?

Remember that you’re not going to get everything done in one day. Try not to become overwhelmed in thinking that you can do it all at once. If you can accomplish one goal each day, that will help you to not become overwhelmed. Trust God even when everything is going wrong. Trust Him, trust Him, trust Him. Let go and trust him.

Join up and join in. Become involved in things that allow you to become relationally involved with other people. Step outside of yourself. Be an initiator. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Don’t hesitate to join in or join up in something that will help you interact with other people. Take a map of the local area with you to help you get around until you learn your way around.

It’s an opportunity for starting over. Think of the fact that these are new horizons, new opportunities to learn, new friendships to make, opportunities to start things afresh and anew. There are a lot of old things that you might want to change and now you have the opportunity to do that. It’s a good opportunity to read a book you have always wanted to read, to do things that you have always wanted to do but maybe felt like you were too busy before to do them.

Keep things in perspective when you have just moved. I always like to remind women to read the Old Testament book of Exodus and to realize that what was accomplished in the moving in Exodus was so much more complicated and difficult than any of our moves. So keep your move in perspective and just do one thing, one day at a time.

CWT: How do you know when you are finally acclimated, and the stress and the shock of the move are over?

It is when you:

  • Sense a peace inside
  • Stop always looking at your “old life” through rose colored glasses
  • Begin to see the good in your move and God’s purpose in your move. You see that there was a plan that God is truly in charge.
  • Not only have begun to start over and move ahead with your life, but you rest in Him
  • Begin to look at others and think about how you can serve.

CWT: How do you encourage people who are moving?

I always give a person who is moving a couple of items in a gift bag as a reminder of what they need to do when they move. One of the things I give women is a tiny little nest with a couple of little fake eggs in it as a reminder that when they move, it is so important for them to build that nest and weave that nest, with the very fiber of Jesus Christ. I like to identify weaving your nest, with the fruit of the Spirit – to weave your new home with love, peace, patience, kindness – all the fruit of the Spirit will allow you to have a strong foundation.

I also like to give them a little rope. The visual example of that is to hold on to God’s promises. If you feel down and out after a move, and need a little encouragement hold on to that (rope) and remember that it is not only woven with God’s promises, but prayer, with His peace, and with His faithfulness.

Then I like to give a little mirror and remind women that it all begins with them. I say, “It is your choice, and it all begins with you, in your attitude and your outlook and the choice that you make after you move.”

CWT: Neat ideas! What about helping women we know who’ve have recently moved?

For one thing, invite a new person to go to church with you, or go to a Bible study with you. Include them. I think to be included is so important when you are new.

If it is a new neighbor, just go over and introduce yourself. I think that as believers it’s time that we go back to the basics of reaching out to our new neighbors. Whether you’ve got a plant or a plate of cookies, just show up and say, “How can I help you? Welcome to the neighborhood.”

Little things like giving them the name of the best hairdresser in town, or the service person that you might use, the name of your doctor or the name of your florist. Any practical thing like that that might help a new person is always appreciated.

CWT: To close, can you tell us about Just Moved Ministry, and what resources are available to help women who’ve moved?

Oh, I would just love to! Our ministry started in 1995 and our heart is to encourage women who are new to help them keep their focus on Christ after a move.

We have materials based on my book, After the Boxes are Unpacked, in churches, military bases, seminaries and neighborhoods all over the world that allow women to go through that process of letting go, starting over, and moving ahead. It is a 13-week small group study, and it is an encouragement for women to come together and feel like they are not alone.

Just Moved Ministry is in more than 35 states over 11 countries. We offer a newsletter as well as phone counseling and encouragement for women who have moved.

For more information about these resources, I invite your readers to visit our web site, www.justmoved.org. Or you can call us at 480.991.5268.

Copyright material is used here as a resource for movers and should not be reprinted without first obtaining a Permission To Reprint from the publisher/author.