Transitions are always challenging, and moving is one of the hardest things a family can do.
You are saying goodbye to friends and places you love and heading into the unknown. Inadvertently, I think I’m becoming an expert at making transitions; after 14 years in the same city, we have managed to move three times in the past three years.
If you are making a move this summer, here’s some hard-earned advice on how to make it as painless as possible.
10 keys to a better transition:
1. Know it’s going to be uncomfortable for awhile.
A new school, a new job or a new town is always uncomfortable. It is helpful if you tell yourself in advance that things are not going to feel normal, at least not at first. It will take time to make friends, learn your way around and feel like you belong. It’s normal, and everyone goes through it. This too shall pass.
2. Don’t go back home too soon.
Hold off on making a return trip as long as you can. When you go back too soon, the emotions of moving start all over; it’s like hitting the reset button. Give yourself time to really settle into your new reality before revisiting the past.
3. Learn to navigate without your GPS.
The longer you have to use the GPS to get to the grocery store, the longer you will feel like you are just visiting. Spend some time looking at a map to understand how your new town is laid out. Try going to the store and back without directions. Listen to the traffic report and try to visualize the highways they are talking about. This sounds silly, but navigating on your own really helps you feel like you belong. After we moved to California, I had to use my GPS to find my house in my own subdivision; it was a weird feeling.
4. Find something familiar.
When you move to a new city, everything seems so different, it helps to find something that feels familiar. When we first moved to Orange County, my wife would occasionally go to the local Target and just stand in the middle of the store. She said it was comforting because all Targets are laid out the same and she knew her way around. After we moved to Charleston from Houston, we found a little hole in the wall Mexican restaurant that reminded us of Texas. Something familiar alleviates the feeling you’ve landed on another planet.
5. Pick a church.
Finding a church is really hard, but it is a major part of making a successful transition. You will never find a church just like the one you left; don’t spend too long looking. Don’t simply attend your old church’s online campus; you won’t get plugged into your new community, and you’ll constantly be reminded of what you left behind. If church really is about loving God and loving others, you’ll find a church that you can connect with, and over time you’ll learn to love it.