A journey I didn’t want to take

“Five years, Lord!” I shouted. “He told me we’d only have to move away from family for five years! And now he wants me to move even farther?”

My anxiety and frustration were high as I tried to absorb the news that my husband’s company wanted to transfer us… again! We were four years into our marriage when our first transfer occurred, and Dave had told me we’d only have to be “out in the field” for five years. But ten years later, I stood in our Pennsylvania kitchen, furious at the thought of relocating even farther away from family to America’s deep south.

“That wasn’t the plan, Lord!” At least it wasn’t my plan. And for a few days, I dug my heels in deep. I argued with God and my husband, cried, complained, and nearly pushed too far. After taking a long drive and sitting alone with the Lord, I finally surrendered, “Thy will be done, Lord. I trust You.”

Within a few months, our two children (ages eight and five) and I joined my husband in the small town of Columbus, Mississippi. I had accompanied my husband on a house-hunting trip soon after we learned of his transfer, and I looked hard for the silver linings but they honestly eluded me. Through my fears and tears I continued to pray, “I trust You, Lord. I know You will faithfully show me Your reasons for this move, and I look forward to seeing them.”

But my concerns were great. Our young son had some learning struggles, and I wondered how on earth his new school would accommodate him. And our visits with grandparents had been so easy from our home in Pennsylvania, just three hours from where they lived. I was also immersed in church ministry and felt like I had been in a good cadence of serving. Now all of that was being torn apart.

To add to the stress, our first few months in our new home did not go swimmingly! Highlights of our first months as Mississippians included ER visits, hospitalizations, two car accidents, and a call from the school principal to address all the complaints she was receiving from angry parents. (It seems one of our children was questioning some Christmastime beliefs during recess, and kids were asking lots of questions!)

Despite all of those early hiccups, though, God did exactly as I had asked. He began to reveal His purposes for this move—works that went far beyond my husband’s job—and He gave every member of our family a great love for the people and places of Mississippi. Our child’s illnesses and hospitalizations led to medical care in Alabama from a renowned pediatric specialist. The church He led us to was filled with people from all over the country—most of them members of the Air Force—who not only understood our homesickness, but also were needing comfort of their own. And my love for writing, speaking, and performing arts were not only met, but also stretched in ways I never could have imagined! All because we were asked to move to an obscure little town well off the path my heart had planned for us.

Interestingly, after two short years, our Mississippi residency came to a close. Dave’s company promoted him and moved him back to corporate headquarters, back to the people and places we loved and for which I’d begged the Lord to let us return. But not before teaching me some important lessons about Him and His ways:

  • His ways might be mysterious, but His plans can be trusted.
  • Our travels may feel lonely, but our God is always with us.
  • God’s directives may elicit discomfort, but a heart surrendered and an expectant attitude open our eyes to God’s abundant blessings.

Blessings that I would have missed had I not gone on a journey I didn’t want to take.