Never in my life have I ever had so much change, especially in such a short amount of time. This past year, my husband and I quit our jobs, sold our home and moved with two teenagers north, to live the farm life we had always longed for. Along with that came becoming a stay at home mom, homeschooling for the first time, building a home on our land, and leaving all our friends and family behind.
This year, we had to find and make new friends, rediscover who we were in this new phase of life, and just plain persevere through the many trials that faced us (and there were MANY).
I’d love to tell you that we have loved every minute of this wild ride. But we haven’t. Depression, anxiety, and fear popped up and embedded themselves in the seams of our stories. It’s been the hardest year of all of our lives, and it’s taken until the end of now to feel a bit recovered from the nausea this ride has brought.
Through the twist and turns of this year, I have learned, and am continuing to learn, some important life lessons. Lessons that could have only been learned by walking through the fire. In case you are experiencing change at a exponential speed as we did, I pray these ten insights give you some comfort and hope for the future.
1. Even if you push Him away, God will never leave you.
I know this one from experience. When things get really hard, I tend to want to keep my Savior at arms length. That’s hard to admit, but its true. Sadly, my sinful heart finds it easier to turn off my emotions and not feel the excruciating pain that surrounds me. It’s an expert wall builder and tries to protect itself from the suffering.
But, those walls aren’t sound proof and my Father never stopped professing his love for me and encouraging my heart. His love that poured over me was so undeserved and I’m thankful He reminded me that He wasn’t going anywhere. Ever.
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
2. Sometimes prayer takes the form of tears.
There were days that I just couldn’t utter a word. Between the tears of loss from one teenager and the new anxiety attacks of another, I had no words. It was draining speaking reassurance into them for hours each day, words I wasn’t sure I believed myself.
My husband was working long hours and the weight of it all was too much to bear. So I cried. I cried alongside my children, for their agony broke me. I cried when I couldn’t find something in the sea of boxes we resided with. And I cried alone, in my bed, crying out to the One who holds every tear and and calms every heart.
All I had to offer were tears and brokenness and He met me with love and understanding, more than I could have imagined.
“Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence.” 2 Chronicles 6:19
3. Sometimes the hardest year of your life ends up the most blessed one.
For all that has gone “wrong” this year and all the pain we have had to not only walk through but endure, I’ve never felt more blessed. I can’t tell you how many times I have stated that this has been the hardest, yet most blessed of my life.
God has provided us with a wonderful church and church family, new friends that already feel like sisters, friends for our children, a great, supportive homeschool group, and closer ties to local family.
And our new home has been a great place of relaxation and healing for our weary hearts. As I type this, our resident bald eagle pair (I’m pretty sure they are in love) is flying over the pond that our window’s showcase. We are so blessed to be living amidst such beauty, and I’m thankful for the beauty that God has restored in our hearts.
“Blessed is the people of whom this is true; blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.” Psalms 144:15
4. Through change, new passions are unveiled.
If you had told me last year that I would love teaching teenagers, I would have laughed in your face! (Not nice I know, but it would have happened.) Not only do I love teaching my own, but teaching bible study in our homeschool group makes my heart so fulfilled.
God has placed this new desire in me, to use my real and raw nature, to not only help these kids grow as Christians, but help them take their faith in their own hands. We talk about it ALL in that class – things that need to be said and things that I wish I had known at their age. Nothing is off limits and I LOVE hearing their hearts and helping them find answers to their questions. I’m so thankful God has placed a new and fresh desire into my stale heart.
“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” Deuteronomy 32:2
5. Just because God called you, doesn’t mean the road will be easy.
There are not enough Amens for this statement! One thing that we are thankful for is that God made it incredibly obvious to us that this move was His will. He parted waters so we could walk across on dry land. Many times we have thanked our Father for His obvious hand in this, because if it hadn’t been so obvious, we would have second guessed our leap of faith.
Yes, it’s been hard, but He is revealing more and more each day of why He has called us here and I’m so thankful we followed His beacon.
“It was for this He called you through the gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 2:14
6. Family is everything, after Jesus, of course.
We have always been a tight-knit family of four, but enduring such hardship has brought us closer together. When you are all you have in a new space and you are doing life together every day, good and bad, you learn the true meaning of family, and grace. The kids and I talk about everything, hot-button topics and all, and getting to know more of their hearts, fills mine. I’m so grateful for this time we have had to bond, even though its been sealed mostly through tears.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
7. Just because your life changes, doesn’t mean your identity does as well.
I had been a hairdresser for over 20 years when I retired last year. My heart always longed to be a stay-at-home mom, but we relied on the income I brought in so it wasn’t a viable option. So when this calling included me being able to stay at home and a live the simpler life, I couldn’t have been happier!
So, I was surprised when I started questioning who this new me was, after a few months at home. My work identity was gone and what was left? I wasn’t quite sure. But it took a painful situation to remind me that I am who HE says I am, not who I think I am – not who the world TREATS me like I am and not who people make me FEEL like I am. I am simply who HE says I am and no amount of change can change that! Thankfully.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And this is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1
8. Slower paces are gifts.
I am so grateful that we have been gifted more days at home, and since running errands entails an hour drive (one way), we cram it all into one day out. No more running here and there just because I’m bored or killing time before I pick up the kids from school. No more driving kids to and from school for that matter!
Days at home laughing in pjs with my babies (ok, teenagers) are the ones I will remember for the rest of my life. We are proceeding with life slow and steady and finishing the race set before us.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1
9. Figure out what you need to get through and do it daily.
Hear me out – I’m not saying to do something destructive or against God’s Word to make it through your struggles.
I’m saying find something you love that gives you joy and set aside time to do it daily. If that’s watching a funny tv show, reading a book, or drinking tea (sorry, I just don’t love coffee so we are going with tea in this analogy), then set aside time to DO IT. Take a nap, do something crafty, or call a friend.
Self-care is important, especially when you are walking through some major changes and struggles. And part of self care is getting into the Word daily! The days I didn’t were my hardest days because I didn’t start off centered at my Redeemer’s feet.
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14
10. Sometimes seeking help is needed.
My son has really struggled with the move, and being on the spectrum sure doesn’t make change easy on him. As things got progressively worse, we recognized he needed more help than we knew how to give him.
He started seeing a Christ-centered counselor and that has helped him tremendously. Sometimes God uses other godly people to point those we love to the Truth and Life in a way only they can. I’m so thankful that we knew seeking help is not shameful, but an acceptance to allowing God to work in His way, through those He has called.
“Without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
Here are some other lessons we have learned that didn’t make the big list, but are still important:
• If you feed stray cats, they love you forever and never leave. Like never.
• Layers are important all winter long. So…cold…
• Get a pot-filler. You will thank me later.
• Sometimes dogs have dark days too. Peanut butter is important in this situation.
• Stepping on a snake scars you for life. Enough said.
I pray the changes you are experiencing do not go in vain. I know it’s hard, but allow God to use it ALL for His glory, no matter how pain-filled your heart is today.
You can do this!
God’s painting a beautiful painting with His brushstrokes. You just have to hold tight to Him and endure, so someday you will get to see the beauty He is creating in you.