The fact is that any change, even good change, takes you away from the familiar. Even if you are moving to a place you love, you’re experiencing some loss. Perhaps it stings a little. Perhaps such a sore spot is there that you must constantly strive to avoid thinking of it because when you do it suddenly feels like there isn’t any oxygen in the room and you can’t breathe against the force compressing your chest. Go ahead and mourn the loss of the old place (as privately as possible). But begin the process of finding a new one without delay.
Even if your emotions join you slowly–go through the motions. Find a church as quickly as possible. Take just enough time to make the best decision that you can about where you should be and then stay there. (I always think the visiting-around time should be roughly proportional to how long you intend to be in a place–if you are there for only a year or two, you may want to make a quicker decision than if you plan to remain for a long time). Now comes the jumping in part. Get up and go to church. (Jet-lag, if you’ve moved far, gets you exactly one Sunday off, if needed. Don’t give yourself a free pass for anything else, not even (gasp) children’s nap schedules.) And you’re not done yet: sign up for something. Meet people.
There are many ways to jump in straightaway. Plant things that you will be there to admire when they sprout. If you are going to paint, paint right away. Don’t put off hanging up pictures and finding another bookshelf. Meet your neighbors as soon as possible–perhaps this is awkward, but it is ten times more so when you’ve been living silently side-by-side for twelve months. If there are libraries, get a library card. Find the best local snack. Make memories with the children in the different areas of your new space. If you can get them to, have dear ones from the old place to visit in the new. Host events and have guests. I highly recommend having a baby as soon as possible.
Why do I think we should do this? Hasn’t moving put us through enough? I have found there are two very good reasons. The first is that we all need community. The old community of which you were part will continue on without you. In starting over you have become a loose agent. You may enter a new place full of the love and support of the old friends, but your loneliness clock is already ticking. In three months’ time it will have been three months since you had a good chat face-to-face with a friend. Use the early weeks and months to begin building a foundation with your new community–even well before it begins to feel as though you belong.
The second reason for an early two-footed jump is that it is ultimately God who has brought you to your new place, God who has good plans* for your life. There are very good reasons, probably many, why this is the place for you right now. The best way to begin to discover these is to get busy living.
*As it says in Jeremiah 29:11. Also in chapter 29 we find Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles, in which he writes: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent . . . Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce . . . multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”