Moving can teach a thing or two about life.

I’ve seen a fair share of new addresses. While there are military and missionary families that have much higher stats than I do, I’ve moved abroad twice and lived in rental houses, permanent homes, guest houses, basements, and campers. And as I’m in the middle of a move right now, I’ve been reflecting on my last five years in this town and on all the moves I’ve ever done.

One thing I’ve realized: while it’s the time in between moves when we do our living, the moving process can show us how we’ve lived.

Here are the top ten things moving has taught me about living:

1. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, so live intentionally.

Somewhere along the way, I learned to live as if there are no guarantees. To let a person know I love them. To seize that opportunity for a special memory. To do that one thing just because I don’t know if I’ll ever come this way again.

And I only just realized that it’s paid off. I didn’t know I’d be moving this time around until it was right before me, and as I looked at all I’d be leaving behind, I was so grateful that I’d gone on all those adventures, made those memories with friends, visited those places, and simply treated today like the present. I can leave with a full heart, knowing I lived intentionally here. And one day, I hope to die with the same knowledge.

2. Home is what you of make it.

I used to have an ideal that said home is a place where everything is exactly as you want it, with everything familiar around you, a place you know and feel a part of. By the time I was fourteen, I’d lost that feeling, even though I had a home that was everything my ideal should have been. It disturbed me that I could be in a place but not have a place in me. It was as if I was just staying, not belonging.

Then I realized it wasn’t the home that was the problem. I had never let myself be at home in any of the places I’d lived temporarily. I’d let myself become suspended. By conserving my sense of attachment, I’d lost the ability to let myself belong.

A place may not always be permanent or comfortable or everything I hope, but if it’s where I’m putting my head—no matter for how long—it’s home. Making the most of it makes all the difference.

3. The horizon doesn’t have it any better.

From the time I was eleven, when my family and I left the only home I knew, I’ve been a horizon gazer. By the time I was in my early twenties, I’d developed a philosophy that the next town had to be better. So my heart never touched down anywhere. Eventually, I saw enough of “elsewhere.” Fortunately, I reached my fill at a time I was looking for a new place to settle. My experience with “Every Elsewhere,” as I called it, taught me to appreciate my new town’s character, and I could turn a blind eye to its flaws because I’d seen those flaws elsewhere.

The horizon is appealing, but every horizon is just another somewhere that has another horizon. You could spend your whole life horizon-gazing and never realize everything you didn’t know you want is right under your feet.

4. Be strong enough to let go.

It’s too easy to hang onto what we know. I never wanted to let go of the place I grew up. For eleven years, I still called it home, even though I lived thousands of miles away. Then, when I returned, I realized I’d wasted those eleven years longing for somewhere I no longer had a place in.

No matter how good a place or season may be, once it is past, it has to be let go of. Otherwise, it’s like an anchor dropped from a vessel meant to sail. Letting go does not mean denying something was good. But it does mean the difference between thriving in a new season or just existing.

5. Moving purges.

When you’re looking at possessions through the lenses of logistics, suddenly things just don’t look as necessary as they did before.  When my family and I first moved abroad, we packed our possessions into a forty-foot container. When we came back to the States years later, our stuff could fit in a twenty-foot container. Sounds like progress to me!

If a move doesn’t change you inwardly, it’ll at least clean out your clutter.

6. Living light is freeing.

When you put great-grandma’s antique vase in a box and send it off to sail around the globe, there’s no guarantee you’re ever going to see it again, let alone in one piece. So, I’ve learned to let go of things—mentally, emotionally, and practically.

When you let go and live light, you find space in your life that can be filled with things that actually matter. For example, I’m living in an apartment with very little furniture right now. And yet I’m quite content living light, especially now that I’m moving. As I picture myself driving away soon, I know I’ll be taking much with me, not in the way of possessions, but in years of memories, special bonds, and lifelong friendships. And that means more than anything I could ever put in a U-Haul.

7. The things that do matter will be with you no matter where you are.

This I’ve learned: after the goodbyes have been said, true friends stay a part of your life. When home isn’t on any map, family is still your anchor. In the midst of more questions than answers, true faith gives more than the physical world can display.

If all I had was friends, family, and faith, it would be plenty. They are what matters.

8. Bloom where you’re planted.

I haven’t wanted to be every place I’ve ever lived. But, after looking back and being able to recall good times and positive experiences in every home/area, I’ve often wished I’d let myself enjoy those particular places rather than wishing I was elsewhere.

God puts us somewhere for a reason. We don’t always get to choose where He plants us, but we can choose how to respond. And how much better it is to blossom where we are than to fail to thrive just because we want to be elsewhere.

9. Every place you live will leave fingerprints on you and your story. 

No matter how small a place, no matter how long you stay, where you are impacts who you become. At least for that season. Still, a season is a portion of your life. Choose accordingly.

10. Ends really are new beginnings.

I’ve always wanted to smack people who said, “Every end is just a new beginning.” When I’ve gotten tired of saying goodbye, I’ve felt I could do without those new beginnings…just to spare myself the emotional energy.

And yet God has walked me through some incredible seasons only because I first said goodbye. How different I’d be today if I’d had my way and never waved goodbye to a very good thing.

* * *

Life really is one long in-transition phase. Whether you’ve lived all over or never left town, what are some things you’ve learned along the transition process?



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