How to Lead Your Family During a Move
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Transitions are hard, as is any kind of major change. Especially if it involves moving. Gina Butz and Voddie Baucham share how to care for your family during the time of a transition.
How to Lead Your Family During a Move
Michelle: This summer, I have several friends who are moving. Maybe that’s you; maybe you’re packing a box right now as I speak. Voddie Baucham says there are a few things that you need to be aware of as you move. Here’s Voddie.
Voddie: I need to be reminded to recognize and respect the grieving process. We made the decision in August; we went through all of those steps—there was confirmation from all these different areas—and we are getting ready to go; but there’s grieving going on. My wife is experiencing some grieving; my children are experiencing some grieving; the ones who are staying and the ones who are going are experiencing some grieving.
I need to recognize and respect that grieving process; and I need to shepherd my family through the grieving process, and not just say, “Suck it up! Let’s go.”
Michelle: So whether you’re moving to Africa or across town, we’re going to talk about change, and transitions, and how to make peace with all of that on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. You know, change brings stress, even in the happiest of change. Maybe it’s a new baby; maybe it’s a new job; but change brings stress! Maybe that stress is coming because you’re moving right now.
You know, you’re packing up those boxes; you’re packing up those memories. A while back, I was leaving the home that I had lived in when I fostered a couple of young children. While they weren’t with me at that time, when I was packing up the boxes, I found fingerprints on the windows; and the memories came flooding back. It was hard for me to leave that home that I had made there.
Or maybe you’re packing because of an exciting and new adventure, and God answered your prayers—and your spouse got the promotion—that you’ve been praying for, for years! You know, a new grocery store, a new park to play in, new neighbors—you really love the old ones! The sun just doesn’t shine in the windows of your [new] living room quite the same.
Today, we’re going to talk about those feelings of moving. We’re going to hear from Voddie Baucham a little bit later on. Voddie had to move his family to Africa, and that’s quite the trip! He has some great advice to give; but first, I wanted to talk with my new friend, Gina Butz, who’s a speaker and author. She’s on staff with Cru®, and so she has had to travel all over the states—let’s say, not just travel—but move inside the States and around the world. I thought she’d have some great insight for those who might be packing up those homes right now and are moving to a new home.
I asked Gina about change and categories for change. She said there are three main categories. Here’s my conversation with Gina Butz.
Gina: I think of three main categories: In my mind, I think of vocational changes or the primary way that you spend your time; I think of relational changes—you know, you get married, or a friend gets married, or you become a parent, or you lose someone—or there are also geographical changes, you know?—you’re picking up and moving to another city or another country.
The thing about that is that it’s rare that you would do one of those in isolation.
Gina: You know, if you make a vocational change, it impacts your relationships; or it might mean that you have to make a geographical change. There’s always this complexity to change, because it’s not just an isolated thing.
It’s difficult because you may respond differently: you may really love this new job; but it’s difficult, because it means it has changed your relationships. Or you may really want to move to that new city; but you don’t know anyone there, or the job ends up not being what you wanted. There are just different aspects you have to deal with at the same time.
Michelle: And that’s hard to deal with those different aspects at the same time.
Michelle: I think of the quote that you have in your book, where your son, I feel, summed it up best when he said, “My heart is tired because of all the new things.”
Gina: Yes! [Laughter]
Michelle: So talk to us about what that was like when you sat down with your little boy.
Gina: Oh, you know, it’s so funny. It’s like, “Out of the mouths of babes,” right? It was such a helpful moment for me; because I think, often, when we’re in change, we shift into this functional mode, where we just have to get things done; right?! The boxes have to get unpacked; we have to figure out the new job; we have to figure out the new role. Often, we don’t give ourselves the space to really sit down and assess how we’re feeling about it/how it’s impacting us.
That comment from my son was just a wake-up call for me; because I was in the same place. I hadn’t realized it; because I was trying to help them figure out the new homeschool co-op, and I was figuring out where the new grocery store was. It was really helpful for me to just stop, and take a beat, and say: “Okay, yes! What has been new for me this week?” When I catalogued it, it was so much; and I thought, “Well, no wonder!” I think, so often in change, you have to stop and go, “Oh, no wonder!”—
Gina: —right?—“No wonder I feel like this.”
Gina: And you know, that just opens us up to grace, and go: “Okay; of course, I feel like this,” “Of course, this is overwhelming; and I’m tired.”
Michelle: I moved recently into the new house that I’m in right now. I love, love my house; I love my neighborhood; but I have noticed there’s an extra stress, because it has added to my commute time. I had to figure out new grocery stores; I had to figure out where my post office is, where my bank is—whereas—
Michelle: —it added this extra level of stress.
Michelle: It was hard. I’m going to say, even though I loved it, it was hard to navigate through that.
Gina: Yes, and I think one of the things about that is that there’s so much mental and emotional energy that goes to adjusting to a change that will never show up on paper. It’s not like, “Today, I spent this hour adjusting to my new life”; right?
Gina: But we feel it. It’s sort of like this underlying drain that’s happening; and then we’re like, “Why am I so tired?” It’s because we can’t/we can’t—it’s not tangible—that drain. And so I think that’s why we need so much to just stop and be aware of how we’re doing, and just recognize what all has shifted, and how we’re doing with that, and to give ourselves grace.
I think it’s difficult to do that alone. You know, I think that’s why it’s so important for us to have people that we can be processing with, who can kind of normalize things for us, and say, “Well, no wonder you feel that way; because look at everything that’s happened.”
Michelle: So how do we process through that? How do we be honest?—because normally, as people go through a move—whether it’s across the country or whether it’s just across town; or if they have a new promotion; or even, in your book, you were talking about marriage and how hard that was, even though it’s exciting and new; and it’s what you’ve always wanted—how do we put words to that?—to what we’re feeling inside? Because there is what we’ve been talking about—there’s that angst inside—how do we put words to that?
Gina: You know, I think one of the things that’s been really encouraging to me is looking at the example of David in the Psalms, because he has this amazing balance of a complete honesty before God. You know, he pours his heart out: he accuses God; he rages against God; but then it’s like he always comes back to: “But I know who You are; I know who You say I am.” It’s like he grounds himself in the Lord.
I think we really can’t just look at one side or the other. I think there’s a temptation, in transition, to think, “The way I’ll get through this is that I’ll just focus on the positive”; right?
Gina: But then there’s so much, that is really hard, that we do need to acknowledge.
I think we don’t do that alone; we do that with the Lord. I think just having those times, where we sit with Him and say, “Here’s my honest heart, God.” You know, Scripture says that all our longings lie open before Him; our sighing is not hidden from Him. He wants to hear all of that.
But then also, at the same time, I think two practices that have really helped me have been the practices of gratitude and worship. You know, that I can pour out my heart honestly—
Gina: —to name things for what they are, without judgment, just, “This is what’s true; it’s hard”—right?
Gina: But God is still God; He is God of this situation. He is still my God in this new season; and I will ask Him to show me: “What can I choose to be grateful for as I also acknowledge what is difficult?” It is both/and.
Michelle: Yes; what I appreciate about you, and how you have really just put words to all that you’ve lived through and all that you have learned through transitions, is the fact that you have really relied hard on God. Your husband’s always been a part of it; but you’ve painted a picture of what it really looks like to say, “Okay, God, You are my Rock. My husband’s here, and he’s helping me through it. My family’s here, and they’re helping me through it; but God, You are my Rock.”
That is so important, because I think so many times, we look to others. We see that it is good that man is not alone, and we look to others; but we don’t always just go, “Okay, God, You are it!
Michelle: “I’m walking through this with You.”
Gina: Yes; and I think that’s one of the things, you know, that often we—like I said earlier—we want to focus on the positives. I think, in part, because we don’t have a lot of practice walking through difficult things; and it’s scary to walk through difficult things.
I think, for me, one of the things that God has shown me in transition is how deeply present He is in those difficult things. When we avoid them, I think we’re avoiding an experience of Him. We’re avoiding an opportunity to let Him minister to us in deep ways, and to be our comfort, and our strength, and our solid place. You know, that’s His desire for us, and I think that’s been such a gift.
Like you said, I’m so grateful that God has put people in my life, who listen well to me and have helped me walk through transition; but the reality is that, at the end of the day, ultimately, it is God who is my solid place. Though He may provide that through other people sometimes, it’s still Him; He’s still the One ministering through them. So I think every transition is this opportunity to remember: “God is the solid ground that I’m always looking for.”
Gina: While I may find it out in the world sometimes, ultimately, He is the One that I can count on the most; so transition really is a gift in that way. We can meet God in really hard places, and see that He’s enough.
Michelle: A great reminder from Gina that God is enough. He is enough to get you through this next move or whatever transition that you’re walking through right now.
Hey, we need to take a break. When we come back, I’m going to talk with Gina about the loss of physical connectedness with those we leave behind. Stay tuned; we’ll be back in two minutes.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. I am talking with my new friend, Gina Butz, today. She is the author of a book called Making Peace with Change. She is helping us understand and just to figure out how to walk through the transition of moving and the transition of change.
You know, you lost your favorite grocery story, your favorite bike path, your favorite playground, your favorite person; so I explored with Gina just what that means about the loss of physical presence. Here’s more of our conversation.
Michelle: When we’re walking through transitions, sometimes we don’t have those physical connections that we used to have—
Michelle: —whether it’s because we have moved, or whether it’s because we have changed jobs, or whether it’s because—well, I think of an example of yours, when you had a baby. You had to pull back from that.
Michelle: How do we navigate through that hardship?
Gina: Yes, yes; it’s so true. One of the things that I think/one of the greatest losses that we often incur in transition is that loss of connection, and it’s at the moment when we most need it. You know, it’s like, “I’ve moved to this new city, and I don’t know anybody!” But I think there’s also an opportunity in that.
You know, we can get this idea like loneliness is this thing that should be avoided at all costs; but I think loneliness really can teach us a lot. I think we need to open ourselves up to befriending that idea that, in our loneliness, it uncovers the things that have become maybe too important to us/things that we’re holding onto for life, apart from God.
Again, it’s that opportunity to come back and reconnect with Him and sync into our relationship with Him. I think, in that, there’s also an opportunity to connect to the grief of our losses. That’s something that I think is important; but then, at the same time, I think, as we express gratitude for those things, it opens us up to new things God is providing.
I know for me, I’ve entered into a new relationship with a couple of women in this time that I was not expecting at all! You know, it’s not even necessarily because of this situation, but just that you don’t know what God’s going to bring from season to season. And even though a season has loss, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t going to bring you good things out of that season.
Michelle: Yes; why do you think that is?
Gina: You know, I think transition—you know, we use the analogy of things being uprooted—right? And when you uproot something, the roots are exposed. I think we’re wired for rootedness; we’re wired to be grounded in something.
I think there are times when God uses transition to show us that we’ve been trying to sink our roots into things that actually aren’t solid. They’re good things—you know, relationships, our vocation, the place where [we live]—these are all good things/good gifts that God gives us, but they are not solid ground.
Michelle: You know, it’s summertime now; and I am watching a lot of my friends move.
Michelle: Right now, with FamilyLife®, there are a lot of my friends moving down to our new place of headquarters.
Michelle: There’s a lot of uprooted-ness; there’s a lot of sadness and leaving—there’s a lot of that. What kind of words would you have to encourage somebody, who’s in the process of moving right now?
Gina: You know, what that reminds me of is when we moved back from overseas. We were the beginning of a flood of people who left our city; there were 12 families that left our city within a year. I had friends, who were still there; and they said/by the end of the year they said, “We need t-shirts that say, ‘I survived the Exodus.’” [Laughter] You know, it just—I remember them talking about how hard it was to stay emotionally engaged, because to say goodbye to yet another family/to yet another friend is exhausting. It’s really hard.
My encouragement would be to stay engaged as much as you can. There’s always a temptation, in a situation like that, to diminish your grief by telling yourself: “You know, maybe we weren’t that close,”—right?—“Maybe it’s not that big of a deal.” We want to minimize it, because it’s painful. I would just encourage people to pay attention to: “How is your heart responding?” It is exhausting; it does get tiring to say goodbye; but again, I think the more we are willing to engage in that, it really sets the course for how we engage our hearts in anything in the future. You know, I think, if we shut ourselves down to grief, we also shut ourselves down to joy.
Michelle: I guess it’s okay to take naps during this time and to sleep a little longer, because our minds are a little—
Gina: Oh, for sure! [Laughter]
Michelle: —they’re just exhausted! And we’re exhausted.
Michelle: And so we need to give each other, and ourselves, grace/extra grace during this time of moving and transitions.
Gina: Yes, yes; I think it’s important to keep tabs on how we’re doing emotionally/how the people around us are doing—and to be honest with each other—encourage each other. There are going to be some days when one of you is up and one of you is down, and vice versa. None of us go through a transition the same way, even if we’re in the same transition. Yes, absolutely—giving each other grace to be where we are.
Michelle: Those are good words. Gina, thank you so much for joining me today and sharing with us just how to navigate change, and navigate moving, and all the good things and hard things. Thank you.
Gina: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me!
Michelle: What a refreshing conversation to hear: “It’s okay! Take it to God—take all those fears/all those feelings—take it to God and drop it at His feet.”
My friend, Voddie Baucham, a few years ago, packed up his family and moved to Africa; because he believed that was where God was calling him. However, his wife didn’t hear those same words and that same calling from God at the same time, and Voddie had to learn how to care for his wife and lead his family during this transition. Here’s Voddie Baucham.
Voddie: I need to be reminded to recognize and respect the grieving process. I mean, as a man, “I’m pretty much done; great.” We made the decision in August; we went through all of those steps—there was confirmation from all these different areas—and we are getting ready to go; but there’s grieving going on. My wife is experiencing some grieving; my children are experiencing some grieving. The ones who are staying and the ones who are going are experiencing some grieving.
I need to recognize and respect that grieving process. I need to shepherd my family through the grieving process, and not just say, “Suck it up! Let’s go.” I need to shepherd my family through this grieving process.
Secondly, I need to communicate more than I think I need to communicate. There’s a whole lot of times, when I think something to myself, like, “Okay, here’s an obstacle that we have to overcome.” I recognize that obstacle, and I make a plan for that obstacle to be overcome; and I’m like, “We’re good!” Bridget is going, “Can I/can I—can I know some of that?” [Laughter] I need to communicate those things.
I need to recognize that this is a huge move—and that I’m asking a lot—this is a big ask right here! It really is! It’s a big ask, and I need to be clear—painstakingly clear/redundantly clear—I need to be clear again, and again, and again about this; because this is a big ask.
Thirdly, I need to be reminded to take everything off my wife’s plate that I can; because again, this is a big ask. There’s a lot of weight on her as she contemplates leaving this nest.
Fourth, I need to provide a safe, secure home for my family. They need to know that that’s what I’m providing. I’m not Indiana Jones. [Laughter] If it were just me, I could just go live anywhere/do anything; you know, “We’re good,”—right? But it’s not just me; and so it’s incumbent upon me to communicate to her and to them, “I am going to take care of your safety and your security.”
And then, finally, I have to remind them again and again why we’re doing what we’re doing. I have to continue to root and ground my family in a gospel-centered understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing—that this is about Christ and the fullness of the reward for which He died; that this is about the gospel being more significant and more important than any of us, and even all of us together; that this is about kingdom service above anything else. While all these other things are important, ultimately, this is what it boils down to. That reminder has to come again, and again, and again, and again.
And we appreciate encouragement from the outside. We’re grateful for all of you who have encouraged us from the outside; we’re thankful for that! But here’s where the rubber meets the road—we’re encouraged from the outside—and then we go home, and a “For Sale” sign goes up; and there’s nobody to pat us on the back and go, “I’m so proud of you guys!” It’s just us going: “This is everything; this is the last 15 years. This is the home that, you know, every one of the last seven children came home to. This is our country; our country that we love. I’m a patriot; I love my country.” Nevertheless, my country is not my kingdom; and so we have to be reminded again, and again, and again.
So for you—whomever you are, and wherever you are, and whatever constitutes that mission side of your life—whether it is: “Right now, God has called us to this mission of raising, training, evangelizing, and discipling these children/or this child that God has given us!”—whether it’s that right there—or it’s you’re in pastoral ministry and you’re in, you know, whatever kind of ministry—whatever that is—there is this need to live with that tension.
Paul talks about that tension, and it is an important tension. We don’t just get to have the attitude that says: “Well, God called me. Therefore, if I take care of His business, He’ll take care of my family.” That used to be the old school way of thinking about it: “God will take care of my family. My wife will be there; she’ll do that.” Because as we say back in Texas, “That dog won’t hunt.” [Laughter]
So whatever it is—whether it’s this end of the spectrum or all the way on the other end of the spectrum—there is this reminder that you now have this sort of divided interest. It’s not a divided interest between the godly thing, ministry, and the not-godly thing, marriage. You need to understand that marriage is your primary ministry.
That’s where you get divided; because when you get married, your marriage becomes your primary ministry. It becomes the foundation upon which all of your other ministry is built. It becomes the place where you’re evaluated as to whether or not you’re qualified for other ministry. It becomes the place where you learn the disciplines that are necessary in any and every other ministry. It becomes the place where you are an example for those to whom you minister. So it is ministry. It is ministry!
Here’s where the difficulty comes/here’s where the tension comes: the tension becomes the ministry inside the home and inside the marriage, and the ministry outside the home and outside the marriage. There is a constant ebb and flow and working to manage that tension. All of us live with that! Every one of us lives with that. When there are decisions to be made, and when there are prices to be paid, all of these things have to be taken into consideration.
Michelle: Do you feel like Voddie has like a webcam in your home, and he can hear those conversations you’re having? It almost feels like that! He knows what he’s talking about, and he shoots straight to the heart! Great encouragement from Voddie Baucham!
So if you’re driving that U-Haul right now, or maybe you’re thinking about moving, or maybe you’re even packing that box/that last box—or you thought it was the last box—I hope that today has been encouraging for you. You know, moving is hard; and there are some resources on our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com—that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com. On there is a conversation with Susan Miller; she wrote the book, After the Boxes Are Unpacked; and she sat down and spoke with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine a while back. That will be helpful to you as you make this move across country, across the world, or across town.
Hey, coming up next week, it’s the Fourth of July weekend; and people are going to be out barbecuing—of course, safe social distancing, of course—and we’re going to be thinking about the heroes who, basically, won our freedom for us. But do you know who the true/the real hero is that won our ultimate freedom? We’re going to be talking about that next week on FamilyLife This Week. I hope you can join us for that.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producer, Marques Holt. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
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