My body was shaking uncontrollably as I lay in bed in a dark room, trying to get a grip on myself. It was time to go out for a fun family evening, but I just couldn’t calm down as I worried about our first international move looming. Too many things just weren’t falling into place on my ever-shortening timeline. Our house was sold. The moving company was arriving in a few days to pack up all our belongings. But we didn’t yet have the work visa approved to start the job in our new country! I wish I had had some moving tips—anything to help lower my stress—that night.
My mom always says that “move” is a four-letter word. But so is love, with just one letter changed. I’ve moved homes, towns, regions, and even countries multiple times now. Believe me, I’ve gathered a few moving tips that will help you move more peacefully, whether locally or internationally.
Check out these 5 moving tips to help you stress less.
- Ask for peace. As the stress inside my mind and heart carried over into my body and shook it like a leaf that night, I was focusing on everything that was changing and uncertain, rather than the one solid thing that was staying the same. In the midst of the chaos and upheaval, ask your Father, God, who doesn’t ever change, for His transcending peace. Trust His love, power, and sense of timing. He’s never late. We received the work visa from the consulate just in time, the day before the movers descended on our house. … “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. …” 1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT
- Ask for help. Don’t try to handle everything yourself. Ask for help not only from God, but from all your friends in the place you’re leaving, and from new people you meet along your journey. I had people offer to help with cleaning, sorting, packing, errands, and food. Take them up on it! It’s comforting to know people have your back, and it’s a blessing to them to be able to express their love for you as you leave. Share your burdens and they get lighter. And funnier. Working together lets you laugh more and stress less.
- Clean house—in more ways than one. Moving is such a great time to clear things out of your life. Not only all those material items you haven’t used in years, or that your children have grown out of, but also spiritual baggage. As you sort your earthly possessions, think about what you’re trusting in. Have you placed everything in your life in your loving Creator’s hands? Are you trusting Him for new schools, work, home, friends, church, language, culture, landscape, family, and the timing of it all? Put it all in His hands afresh and leave it there. He has all the connections in the world and He loves you with a bottomless love. He will be faithful no matter where you live. I’ve experienced the richness of this truth in four different countries and five US states.
- Say goodbye well. People are the most precious thing about anywhere we live. Getting closure at the end of a season is important to be able to move on well. Have a farewell party, even if you have to organize it yourself. But keep it simple. Invite your closest friends and those of your children, or let your children have their own goodbye parties. Let other people bring the food and get someone else to host if you can! Spend some time with your favorite people as they help you prepare to move. Be sure to send out your new address ahead of time so you can keep in touch across the miles or even across the oceans. Remember that God knows where everyone lives and has a purpose for you wherever you are going.
- Reach out fast. Before you even move, start looking for connections in your new location. What are some church options you can try out? Can you visit before you move? In any case, as soon as you get to your new place, start checking out a local church. Don’t wait until the boxes are all unpacked or all the pictures are hung. Relationships are more important than a picture-perfect house. The moving boxes will eventually all be out of the dining room, but new friendships can start right away. Don’t miss a chance to say a smiling hello to a new neighbor. They might become a new friend and local ally as you settle in.
What sums up my moving tips? Trust God in the chaos. Absolutely nothing is too hard for Him. When everything else is shifting, remember Hebrews 13:8 NLT, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Give all your plans to Him, and remember that when your life feels completely out of control, you were never meant to be in control. God’s the one in control. Moving is a lot of work and takes a lot of time, with so many things to think of, prepare for, research, purge, sell, give away, recycle, and dispose of, but you can trust Him with all the details. You may feel like you’re going to drown, but just like when Jesus calmed the storm, God is in the boat with you and He’ll speak the rescuing words at the right moment.
During one of our many moves, I wrote out this Bible verse to cling to, and then just kept it on my desk for the following eight years and on through the next move:
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1 NIV
Moves can feel like a disaster when you’re in the middle of one. But God is our refuge through it all, and then every day thereafter! Take refuge in Him on your own and with friends. Being a part of an actively loving local church in the place you’re leaving and then again at your new location makes things much easier as you trust God together. There may be many kinds of moving tips and checklists, but nothing is more practical than resting your little hand in your Father’s strong hand as He walks you every step of the way.