Changes abound at my church. Exciting changes, marvelous changes, but change none-the-less. And we know how much everyone loves that. These changes are causing many to wonder, “What is my place in this new dynamic?”
In the past ten years, I’ve homeschooled in four different states. I’ve attended five different churches. I’ve moved six times, twice halfway across the country. Add all that to my experiences growing up as an Army brat and you could say I’m an expert at change.
Whether moving to a new job or to a new state, we all experience feeling like we don’t fit in. How do you find your spot in a new place? Looking back over all my moves, here’s some basic things that made the transitions easier.
- Trust the Lord
We’d helped plant a church and seen it grow. We’d come to love the Midwest, which was surprising to this Southern girl. We were happy. Then the Lord called us to move across the country to a different state. It would have been tempting to ignore the call, but we had a realization: It’s impossible to be happy outside of God’s will. Whatever changes were ahead, would be for our good. Romans 12:2 says that God’s will is “good and pleasing and perfect.” When you look ahead to the uncertain future, remember that God wants what’s best for you.
- Remember your Identity
I fill many niches, which usually makes it easy for me to adapt to a new area. But this time, all my niches were already filled. Every role I would normally step into was taken by a fabulous and competent person. There was no place for me in the homeschool world or in my church. I felt lost. Then the Lord reminded me that my walk and, ultimately, who I am as a person are not defined by what I do. The roles I fill are just that—roles. I am defined by my relationship with Christ. So, I turned my focus from my actions to Jesus. In doing so, I recognized that I had become a Martha, worrying about many things. I needed to be a Mary, choosing the good portion–Christ. No matter what things are taken from your life, you will always have a relationship with the savior. Luke 10:38-42
- Embrace the Change
I’ll tell you now. This new place will be different. There will be different clubs and ministries. Even the things that seem the same will be run differently. If you were on the party committee at your old job, you might jump right into the party committee at your new job. However, you’ll find the personalities on the committee don’t mesh with yours, or you clash over taste in decorations. What was once a source of happiness for you will now be a source of stress and conflict. Instead of clinging to your past roles, look around and investigate new opportunities. One move, I tried fruitlessly to recreate the active homeschool playgroup we’d had before. No matter what I planned, the chemistry and magic we’d experienced didn’t surface. Once I started looking for other options, I found homeschool sports. I’d never heard of such a thing! Tech participated in cross country and track, both sports bringing him joy for several years. When you embrace the change and look for new opportunities, you’ll be surprised at the wonderful things that await you.
- Make the Move
I sat alone in the church’s café, nursing my drink. I felt I like was on display with a sign that read, “New Girl” hanging over my head. I watched as three ladies chatted and giggled at the Greeter’s Station. I wanted one of them to notice me, realize I was new, and introduce herself. They didn’t. I decided I could sit there feeling lonely or make the first move. So, I got up, walked across the café, and said, “Hi, my name’s Nancy. I’m new.” One of those women turned out to be my best friend in that church. Yet, I never would have met her, if I hadn’t put myself out there. God can certainly make opportunities fall in your lap, but that’s not how he typically operates. God gave Joshua the city of Jericho, but Joshua and the people still had to do their part by marching around the city and shouting. (Joshua 6) Do your part. Research groups and clubs online, then attend the meetings. Volunteer for ministry projects. Or simply walk up to someone, shake their hand, and say, “Hi. I’m new.”
Changes can be scary, but they can also the doorway to wonderful new opportunities. You can conquer your fear if you trust God, remember who you are, embrace the change, and make your move to a new spot.