This question comes from one of our RevGal colleagues who is feeling overwhelmed by what it means for her family when God’s call means big changes:
Could I get some advice from other mama pastors?
I have been seeking a new call and doing some interviews in some distant places. Now one of those places has called me and we are set to move there this summer. While our kids knew this was a possibility, my usually easy-going 9 year old sort of completely lost it. On the other hand, the pre-teen who seems to dislike everyone is super excited. We moved here 3 years ago so for my spouse to get an advanced degree, and I remember all too well that struggle. Now I am rethinking the whole thing and feeling very selfish.
How did your kids cope with moving? How can I help make this easier for all of us?
Jennifer Burns Lewis:
My children are now adults (28 and 23) but they’ve moved twice for pastoral calls, the most significant of which was when they were 13 and 9. We have them lots of choices and included them in many decisions surrounding the move and they say that helped a lot. Moving away from family, friends and the familiar wasn’t easy, but the anticipation was harder than the move and the adjustment, if that makes sense. It was pretty awesome to move to a community, schools and a congregation who were expecting us and welcomed us with lots of warmth and support. It turned out to be a very good move indeed for almost fourteen years and is the place they still refer to as home, despite moves away to adulthood for them and one last adventure, I think, for my husband and me.
Sharon Mack Temple:
Jennifer, I love the way you included your kids in the decision-making!
More from a child’s point of view: When I was 13, my family made a long-distance move for my father’s change of career. Moving away from both sets of grandparents, leaving my friends and school, and changing cultures was overwhelmingly sad to me. At that stage in life, my body chemistry was out of my control, and every feeling was magnified. Two things helped a lot: (1) My parents finally stopped trying to convince me of all the good things about the move and acknowledged how hard it was for me. After that, I was more open to being pleasantly surprised in that new place. I wish that shift had happened before we moved instead of several months after. (2) They let me fly back to my hometown the next summer to spend time with my grandparents and see friends. That adventure — and their confidence in me — was a wonderful experience. I also realized that it was now a place to visit, but not my home anymore.
All of us Matriarchs wish this RevGal and richly rewarding moving experience with her family . May it go as smoothly as possible!
How about you, dear reader? Has a pastoral call to a new place been especially upsetting for your children? How did you handle that? Let us know in the comments below.
Are you facing a big change? Send your scenario to AskTheMatriarch (at) gmail (dot) com and we will support you through it.
Rev. Sharon M. Temple is a United Church of Christ pastor living in Austin, TX. She is a contributor to the RevGals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit and blogs erratically at Tidings of Comfort and Joy.
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