Tomorrow we are moving.
My husband and I will be married 18 years in July.
This will be our 16th house. 16 homes. 11 towns. 3 countries.
You could say I am used to moving.
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So that is why when this surprise opportunity to rent under a contract a home that will allow us build vision and increase the impact of our maternity hostel ministry while also building a greater separation of our family life, we jumped on it.
And when an arrangement to combine a truck for shipment with another obligation meant we had to pack and be ready to go in five days, I didn’t freak out.
We move. It is what we do.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard.
There is the physically hard part. The overwhelmed what are we doing why are we doing this again part.
The anxiety over finding out we have to switch internet providers, which in a developing nation could mean weeks out of service.
The compiled stress of the car breaking down the day before the move.
All of that.
Plus two adults, five kids, two dogs, twenty chickens, a full time ministry, a homeschool which all need to still function and at the same time be packed and prepared for the move.
But there is the spiritual aspect too.
We move as the Holy Spirit opens doors for us because we feel like we have been called to a life of detachment and itineracy.
St. Ignatius defines detachment as “making use of those things that help to bring us closer to God and leaving aside those things that don’t.” (First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius)
Itineracy comes from the lives of early preachers and missionaries who were always ready to be on the move to where the Spirit was leading them, following the footsteps of the earliest disciples and preachers and even Christ himself.
It is not our goal to move as much as possible.
But we do desire to live in a spirit of obedience and docility to the will of God that is ready to say “yes”. And practicing detachment and being open to being more itinerant than the average family makes that more possible.
But it doesn’t make it easy.
This is a spiritual discipline that requires committing myself anew over and over again. In fact. I’ve rethought this very commitment about 25 times this week alone.
This life of detachment and itineracy means we stay in a place or home only as long as it serves to bring us closer to God. And since God knows we tend to draw near to Him when He pushes us outside our comfort zone often, that has meant a lot of moves for us.
It also means we have to be very intentional about how much we acquire when it comes to material things. Now we are by no means hurting for stuff, and we have to keep a constant balance of a healthy life style for our kids and our family. But we do try to keep life simple and stay willing to leave things behind or give them away as each move requires of us.
It also means that as the maker of home in my house, I have to be very intentional about creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere in a home without taking ownership of a place or using a lot of stuff to do it. That is as challenging as it sounds.
It means we constantly are thinking about how to create a rhythm to our lives that speaks of home and safety and comfort that is not attached to any one place.
It means we lean in and listen, leap way more often than feels comfortable, and sometimes stay when we’d rather go.
It means there are countless thresholds in my life that evoke the comfort of home for me, none of which are actually mine.
It means that as missionaries, we learn to love a land and a people and a church and call it home while never getting stuck to one particular building, vision, or plan of our own.
Everything is ours only as long as it is drawing us nearer to Christ.
And I am nearest to Christ when I remember acutely that the shifting sands of this world, even the very best of them, are not my home.
I realize this is not a call for everyone.
I know it takes a lot of thinking through for a family to weigh the burdens and benefits of such a life.
It takes submitting to the direction and counsel of people and listening when you don’t agree sometimes.
And it takes an awful lot of surrender.
If I am honest, I had started dreaming of buying the house we will leave tomorrow. I was pretty heavily invested in a vision for the future of our ministry and our family right here in this spot.
I was ready to push it forward.
And then in a very short time frame, it became obvious that this was not the best place to bring that vision to fruition and that God had something else in mind.
It was easy to say “yes” to that on the one hand and so, so hard on the other.
Knowing what it is best and doing because it is best does not always mean it feels great.
That is the nature of a discipline after all–it is something you do because of its beneficial nature for your body or soul without regard for how you feel about doing it in the moment.
I would not have chosen detachment as the spiritual discipline to dedicate my life to. In fact, I have had many moments in this walk that were less than stellar examples of a surrendered faith.
But I do so want to live with my eyes fixed on what is eternal. I do want to live a life that has me constantly throwing myself upon grace’s shoulders and begging to be carried. I do want to live with dusty feet and dirt under my nails and look like my Jesus did when we wore skin.
I want to live a life surrendered to his leading and obedient to his calling.
For me, that means I move when he says move, regardless of how good that feels in the moment.
It means life stays streamlined enough that four days is all we need to put our hands on everything we own as a family and a ministry, account for its value and decide whether it comes with us our not.
It means I can leap with a lightness won from a constant attention to life and discipline of my spirit.
I’m not perfect, but I am practicing.
Linking up over at The High Calling where we are talking about spiritual disciplines this week.