When you need to move forward

by Heather B. Iseminger, Guest Columnist |

ORLANDO, Fla. (Christian Examiner) -- I don't handle change well.

Does anyone?

Over the past several weeks Prince Charming and I packed up our home of 14 years. We scrubbed dirt and relived memories. We kept with the daily and added it to the moving of our lives.

On Monday we signed bank documents, sold our home, handed over the keys.

Heather Iseminger

And more than once, I forgot to breathe.

The sale is nothing short of a miracle—a God-breathed shift in our lives.

But just because God moves doesn't mean moving on is easy.

I keep trying to wrap my mind around the change. Knowing my traveling home will be different, and my entire landscape has shifted.

With this bend in our journey, emotions flooded. New opportunities for our family bring excitement. But as I sifted through the memories of a life lived within the brick and mortar of my home, I realized part of me didn't want to move on—or move forward.

Because there is a deep comfort in staying where I am.

The hard work of moving forward makes me want to lock myself in my bedroom and stay under the covers, eating chocolate chip cookies while sipping triple-shot mochas.

Packing up the life I've known for 14 years, the longest I lived anywhere, overwhelmed me. Where to begin? As with any moving forward, I began with one step. One picture at a time came down from the walls.

Moving forward always begins by moving one foot forward.

And then another. And another.

With each step I felt my grasp on the past ease. I spent the last few weeks with arms reaching into the darkest corners of cabinets, pulling out glassware and plastic cups I forgot were there. How many glass 9×11 pans does a girl really need?

That's part of moving forward -- choosing what needs to be left behind. Realizing there are pieces better left in the dark corners. Chunks of our memories and experiences that may just need to be let go.

One night I dug through my hope chest, a cedar box of dusty recollections.

Pulling fragments of my past out, one after the other, I smiled and I cringed.

I also let go.

An unmarked envelope floated in the midst of my memories. As my eyes traced the words written over 20 years ago, I felt the bitterness I'd held onto loosen its grip. I released what I'd carried for so long, the weight lifted in the pen and paper lightness of the letter.

Sometimes moving on is about leaving things behind. Pain. Bitterness. Anger.

And in the midst of packing and letting go, you can completely break. I did that too. Because there's this field trip to the zoo I won't be able to attend. But it's okay to be broken. When we're banged up into bits and pieces we realize how desperate we are for the Creator to hold our fragments in His tender hands.

And then, when you know there's nothing stopping this train of moving on, and you don't know if you'll ever be ready -- friends show up.

They skip church and bring trucks and serve with their strong arms showing what the Body of Christ is all about.

They stop by to pack your pantry and remind you that you're not as alone as you thought in this journey.

They watch your kids and pay for your dinners.

They lift the heavy burdens in cardboard boxes as your life spills out of one place into another.

They drive hours to make sure you have what you need the first night of your new life.

They drop off donuts to welcome you home.

Because if I've learned anything over the last few weeks it's this: You can't move forward alone.

Change is messy. It's newsprint-blackened fingertips, cups broken from careless handling, and wondering if you'll ever settle into the new.

But you have a choice.

You can either cement your feet to the ground, refusing the shift, or you can bring one foot in front of the other -- ever determined to keep moving forward.

Heather B. Iseminger, a high school English teacher and blogger at PetalsofJoy.org, lives with her husband of 16 years and two children in Central Florida, where they actively attend First Baptist Church in Eustis, Florida.