We are honoured this week to share a personal story from an Australian clergy spouse and their experience of moving. If you would like to share your story (anonymously or otherwise), please contact us - we always want to hear from you.
A Moving Experience:
We’ve all experienced light bulb moments: sudden insights which stay with us because of their clarity and impact. I had one such moment in the summer of 2007.
We were about to move house, the seventh ministry-related re-location in our family’s life to that point. Our four children were aged between nine and nineteen – for the most part they were good-humoured about the moving process, accustomed to pitching in, making a game and an adventure out of new surroundings, creative in their approaches to fitting themselves and their possessions into whatever accommodation was provided. But it was tough, and we were all tired of it.
I was blessed in that week with an unexpected gift of money, and of course there were a hundred possible uses for it amidst a growing, cash-strapped family. But after a day or two weighing up the possibilities, I picked up the phone and booked a cleaning company to come in after our belongings were removed and clean the house we were vacating.
I told the children later that day. I was pleased with the decision and looking forward to sharing the news, but I was unprepared for the reaction of relief, amazement and delight with which it was received – and I was chastened.
The point of this story? The lesson for me that day was to realise afresh what sheer hard work moving house is – for every member of the family. It's exhausting physically, emotionally and spiritually. For clergy families it can occur with insufficient lead time to prepare well, particularly for those who struggle emotionally with change. Sometimes parishes don't have the resources to adequately fund removal services, or don't make provision in the re-location budget for cleaning or incidental costs, and too often it’s the clergy family who make up that shortfall. We had encountered all these circumstances and more over the years, and along the way our children had been roped into helping fill in those gaps. They had grown up cleaning down walls, scrubbing out cupboards, packing and unpacking boxes, arranging and re-arranging furniture and belongings to make yet another house functional. Don't get me wrong: we had help along the way from supportive family, friends and parishioners, and some parishes we’ve served in made generous provision for our re-locations. But not all of them did, and in those instances I'm sad to say we often paid out of our own pockets and recruited our children to help us get through the workload.
By all means involve your children in age-appropriate ways in the moving process; teach and train them in responsibility and diligence, sharing the family workload as they grow, especially at ‘high demand’ times such as moving; strive to help your children to seek out the positives in their new accommodation and surroundings. If you can find the energy, aim to be creative and make moving fun, but cut yourself some slack on this one whatever Pinterest might recommend, because frankly, I think it’s a big ask! Above all, remain mindful of the high cost of moving – in every regard - and strive to protect your family from ‘paying the price' that should be allocated elsewhere.
- Published Anonymously
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