Recently I had a conversation with someone who was thinking about moving to a new state. I told him that if he moves he should stay there at least 18 months. Why? Well, as someone who has spent four years in a new city I’ve learned that it’s important to take root where God plants you.
Growth Takes Time
The first year or so you’re so busy looking back on what you had and what you miss. You’re continually playing the compare game. Well, where I came from we had access to cheap and delicious avocados. (Okay, maybe I am still not over that one.)
You’re also experiencing a culture shock and when you are in shock you gravitate to what is most comfortable. It’s foreign and confusing. You don’t know the rules, the good places for tacos, the streets to avoid, or how to even get to the grocery store!
You’re also looking forward – what you want, what could be better. Well, if I move to this state or this city my life could be better. The grass is greener on the other side, sort of thing. Well folks, water your own lawn.
Taking Root Helps You Endure
It was hard moving to Chicago to help start a church. I didn’t have any friends. I spent my life in Southern California building relationships. As an introvert it’s also hard for me to make friends. I like to hang out at home and create things, but I also adore deep friendships and conversations with other humans. That stuff takes time. I had to start again.
The past four years I have been through some trials. I could have easily returned back to California but I was stubborn and resilient in my pursuit to take root and it paid off. I broke a foot, gone through some major depression, etc., and through it all I was stable and grounded in my new home.
I also knew that God planted me in Chicago and I didn’t want my fear to take control. The fear of missing out in the lives I had left (babies, weddings, baptisms, etc.); the fear of not being known or understood in a new city; the fear of being alone forever; the fear of not having a security net to catch me if I fell; and the fear of falling in love with a new place and forgetting where I came from.
Remember Why You Moved
So I focused on God and not on the fear. I focused on God’s promises and truth. I focused on the why. Why did I move to Chicago? I also replaced the focus of it being about me and my life and where I wanted to live and remembered what I told God five years ago, God send me where you want me to go. My life is yours. I meant it then and I mean it now. I hold onto that declaration when I am stressed and looking back and it gently turns my head to the present.
As a plant, you don’t have a choice where you are planted. You just take root. Growth takes time and it can be painful. Yet, when you bear fruit it is so sweet and you realize it was actually worth it. It made sense. The soil, the climate – everything was made for you to grow.
So, if you are thinking about moving, my advice is to pray and then take root. Give yourself at least 18 months before you move to the next place. Be patient with this new life that is forming, endure during the storms, and remember why you’re there. Let’s not be a generation of rootless wanderers, but let’s follow where God leads.