We recently moved. We had lived in our former location for 12 years. Our last two children were born there. Our four older children don’t have many clear memories of living elsewhere, and most of their school years were spent there. For us, it was the perfect place; a permanent place; Home. And yet, here we are – 457 miles away – forming a new home, forging new friendships, bridging gaps, and learning to adjust.
It has given me reason to consider the transitions in life and how we might handle those changes with aplomb and courage, and to ponder the idea that sometimes durability or immobility can make us complacent and even a little lazy.
Yeah, I’m not a big fan of that idea, either. It makes me a little uncomfortable. Complacent? Lazy? I always believed stability was a good thing. (I still do!) But this move has led me to examine where I’ve been and where I’m going in my life, and to realize that there are times when we need to get off our plateaus and “kick it up a notch.”
It is said that there is nothing in life more constant than change. We do not live in a vacuum. There are daily changes, some good and some bad. Transitions are an integral part of mortality. We grow from infancy to childhood to adulthood. Our circumstances shift. Health, age, emotional well-being, and relationships evolve over time. Our lives are not static.
I, for one, understand and accept this in theory. Yet in reality sometimes I still “kick against the pricks.” Like many people, if I were choosing without constraints or considerations, I would want my changes to be gentle and easy, flowing seamlessly throughout my life – much like a bubbly mountain stream rippling through a meadow of wildflowers. However, changes in life are more often like riding the rapids down in the canyon, with me clinging to the edge of the boat, praying for safety. I usually end up enjoying the ride, but in the middle of it I sometimes wonder what I was thinking when I donned the life jacket.
Over the past several years, I have begun to recognize the truth of this statement by Prince Philip: “Change is a challenge and an opportunity, not a threat.”
With the timing of our move coinciding with the departure of our oldest on his mission, I have spent this entire summer focused exclusively on mission prep, purging, packing, getting ready to move, unpacking, getting settled, and dealing with the emotional fallout (positive and negative) of all of these situations. Repeated endlessly.
I’ve spent too much time this summer feeling threatened that I’d be overwhelmed by the weight of the work to do in the time we had to do it. Yet I also recognize that this change is still an opportunity for our family.
Sometimes change is good. For example, I had not realized how myopic I had gotten in my thinking and activities until an afternoon in July when one of my kids went to the mailbox at the curb and came back inside saying it was raining. It was? I’d been so focused on packing that I hadn’t even looked out the window all day. That is when I admitted the balance was out of whack in our family, and some changes were necessary in order for us to maintain some semblance of sanity in the midst of so much flux. Adding more “down time” (outside the house) was essential to our ability to (somewhat successfully) continue to work on the task at hand.
Some changes are more difficult, like this move. It is a great blessing for our family, but it is also a hard transition. We left friends, a ward and stake, and an area that we love. We are making new friends and enjoying our new ward and area. But we still need to allow ourselves to go through the process of adjustment and grant that it will take time.
There are some changes in life over which we have no control. These are often traumatic and test us to our utmost. Yet we still have the ability to weigh our options and consider our attitudes. Despite the various situations we may face, we can still view the glass as half full – even if the contents are muddy water rather than the milk we desire.
Confucious said, “They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.”
Or, as Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, “Come what may, and love it.”
I am beginning to realize that as hard as it was to leave our Home, I needed to get pushed out of my comfort zone. I was getting a little too comfortable and settled and satisfied where I was. I was letting some things slide. Some of them are inconsequential, but some of it is too important for me to be happy for long remaining as casual as I was becoming. We need to improve constantly in order to find happiness and learn to enjoy the changes in our lives, regardless of what (or where) they may be.
Moving has become more than a physical relocation. I am using this opportunity to begin a comprehensive reconsideration of what I want and where I am headed. In many ways, it is also an emotional, mental, and spiritual relocation.
I have faced this and other transitions in my life by relying on some Constants – the love of Heavenly Father, the atonement of our Savior, the understanding of my husband, the support of family and friends, my ability to endure “well enough for now.” These are my foundation layers that keep me afloat when dealing with change.
As we each find the Constants upon which we can rely, we will be able to face life’s transitions with courage and grace. We will learn how to balance being both durable and flexible. And while it may be difficult, we can be secure in the knowledge that we will arise from the changes in life with confidence and deliberate faith.
“Nothing we can do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.” (Ashleigh Brilliant)