Standing on the driveway with my teenage daughter, we watch silently as her childhood bed and miniature table and chairs, packed in the back of a truck, pull away and drive down the street, around the corner, and onto the highway. Words aren’t necessary. We’ve resigned ourselves to the new reality.
All our possessions and keepsakes are now negotiable. We’re moving to England, not just the next state.
Rearranging the empty place in her room where the bed was once used as a couch for friends to congregate, her Dad interrupts, “What are we going to do with all these pillows?” Mounds of decorative pillows in an array of shapes, sizes, and colors cover the carpet, displaced.
“Which ones would you like to use in your dorm room and which ones would you like to visit?” I ask my daughter with slight hesitation. This season presents the biggest change in her 18 years of life. I’m attempting to balance reality with sensitivity.
Not only will she face new challenges as a college student without her parents nearby, but home will be across the Atlantic.
While this is our first international relocation as a ministry family, it’s not the first time we’ve walked the tightrope of our life-changing decisions with our children. This is our ninth move and the third for our children. The decision to leave every place we live requires the same amount of conviction that brought us there in the first place.
When my husband and I say yes to radical life change, we believe God has something important in the circumstances for them also. And we’ve learned to listen to our children differently through seasons of transition.
Random Conversations May Be Echoes of Confirmation
Before divulging details of potential change, we allow the unknowns to simmer while listening to what bubbles to the surface through our children. A keen attentiveness to their thoughts in the context of potential change often leads to clarity in discernment. Phrases like “I wish we could live somewhere different” or “I want to experience going to school in a different culture” suddenly don’t seem like random or out-of-the-blue dinner conversation. They add flavor to the soup of transition.
Before we told our kids about a possible move to London, my son was passing the time after school by researching universities and places to live in Europe. One evening over hamburgers, he remarked, “I wish I could hop on a boat, sail to Europe, and finish high school in a different culture.” I nearly fainted. But I was smiling on the inside.