I am a stranger here.
Here in this big city where the subway rumbles underneath our feet at the library checkout line. Here where the buses squeal and moan and heave. Here in this generous city of wide embrace for people of every language and culture.
Only recently did my husband and I trade our predictable suburban conveniences for the thriving pulse of the city. We left the suburbs of Chicago and moved our family to the heart of Toronto. With our brood of five young children, we are a noisy and conspicuous herd in this urban landscape.
I’m a suburban girl, trying on these urban shoes for size. I feel their awkwardness and my clumsiness as I pay for parking, ride public transit, even grocery shop. Stripped of my armor of familiarity, I’m a puddle of fears and self-doubt.
It’s not just parking that muddles me. It’s the people. Conversations leave me wondering if the first impression was good enough, and will they call?
For all the anxiety that new situations create, they can also become an invitation towards greater risk, surrender, and ultimately growth.
Here are some lessons I’m learning from being “new:”
- Listen. Whether you’re starting a new job, moving to a new city, or you’re simply new to marriage or motherhood, there’s a steep learning curve. Admit what you don’t know, and find someone willing to entertain and answer your hardest and silliest questions.
- Reflect. New situations rattle our sense of identity. Spend time prayerfully reflecting on questions like, “What is my unique calling?” and “What are my unique gifts and convictions?” Ask God to root you deeply in His truth and to protect you from fear and self-doubt.
- Remember. Christ is your constant companion. You’re never really alone, and it’s His Spirit that empowers you to take the risks you’ll need for your new situation. He grants confidence for challenges, grace for failures. His voice steadies us in the wake of uncertainties and disappointments.
What new situations have challenged you recently? How are you learning and growing from being “new?”
By: Jen MichelLeave a Comment
It always takes a while breaking in new shoes. But congrats to you for having the courage to step out in faith. For me, it’s back to familiarity only to find it not so familiar. I’m back in my home town after graduating from collage last year. Things are different, not worse, just different. Thanks!
Beth Williams says
Each and every day poses new challenges. Getting out of debt, putting something on a car(lift kit), dealing with older parents, & jobs, etc.
My big challenge came 7 years ago when I married and moved to the country from the city, although small. I had lived 20 years in a big city & now this. It took some adjustment to being so far away from stores, etc. Also went to small town church where everyone knows everyone – I’m used to big churches with 2-3 services and small groups. Over time and with God’s help I coped & now love it!!
Chrissy @ Fireflies and Hummingbirds says
Great post! Good luck to you and your family in the big city! I’m sure those lessons you’re learning are going to be very helpful as you get settled in!
My husband and I moved from The Netherlands to Niagara Falls, ON 7 years ago, and the transition was the opposite – I went from being more of a city girl (spending a lot of my time in Amsterdam) to more of a small town life. However, the lessons I learned are much the same…thanks for reminding me of them, I can use them again in a new transitional phase in our life. Much luck & blessings to you and your family with getting settled into your new life in Toronto!
Jen Michel says
We’re practically neighbors! Thanks for commenting!
So well done Jen! Thanks.
Krista Burdine says
This is powerful, simple yet profound. My new thing is homeschooling. While I have dimly been aware of these truths while fighting my way through the recent weeks, I really appreciate your ability to clearly state them in such a practical way.
Krista, I was homeshcooled! Loved it- met two of my very best friends through a local homeschool group. It’s been ten years. We’re still like sisters, even though we have miles between us now. Many moms starting out worry about their kids being prepared for college. Don’t. I graduated last year and my brother is in college now. I know that you are doing great!!
Jen Michel says
Krista – We took the homeschooling plunge a couple of years ago! Although we’ll be sending the kids to school here in Toronto, we’re so thankful for all that God taught us in the years we had the kids at home. We grew so close as a family and had the privilege of investing in our kids in really purposeful ways. Blessings to you in your journey!
Thanks for sharing the lessons you have learned as you transition to being an urban family. Breaking in “new shoes” can be painful at times but oh my when you get them broke in they are so comfortable : )
My new shoes would be the new things (areas) that God is taking me to and asking me to do. I explained it to someone that I just don’t feel comfortable in my skin right now but it will be fine and I know I will grow into what he is asking me to do. God change is good.
Thanks for sharing.
Thankfully God is there to meet us in the midst of our greatest challenges. Encouraged by your faith!
Jen, thanks for your transparency and open heart through this whole process. You guys took a HUGE leap of faith to Canada and I love seeing how God is working in your life. The biggest reminder for life changes are so clear, but so often we forget them. When I lower my expectations for myself and work more carefully on aligning my mind, body and spirit with the father, son and holy ghost, new shoes don’t hurt so much.
Kathy @ In Quiet Places says
We lived in Houston, TX for 25 years and then moved to Dallas, TX a couple years ago, so this was a huge move and full of new things after being in one place so long. We traded Houston suburbs for Dallas suburbs, and I did not truly feel at home in my new surroundings until we found a church home. I have learned how much it means to be welcomed into a new church family- and what I hope to pass on is to be the person who welcomes the next new people that come – as we were warmly welcomed when we came.
Heather Conrad says
Just what I needed to read this morning. You’re speaking my language! God is preparing my family for a possible move from suburbia Ohio to Nashville, TN. I appreciate the honesty and the encouragement! This gives me hope and reality. Have a great Sunday!
Jami Kastner says
thank you for sharing! What a great reminder… especially the listening part 🙂