I lived in the same small Midwestern town throughout my entire childhood. After having our first child, my husband and I decided we wanted to raise our children in the same hometown, close to grandparents. We had both attended the same church that my parents brought me to as a newborn. I knew everyone in the grocery store, the library and the post office. My kids attended the same elementary school that both my husband and I attended, and some of the same teachers were still teaching the next generation of my classmates’ children. We had roots- in our community, in our church, in our kids’ school. We belonged.
Then God pulled us out of our comfortable haven and sent us 600 miles south. A new town, a new state and a new culture. I knew no one. I was a transplant with wilting roots. While these southerners were friendly, I couldn’t understand half of what they were saying in their slow drawl, bless their hearts. And I talked too fast for them to understand me. But I’m rather social, so we found a church as quickly as we could and jumped in serving and meeting families.
Six weeks after moving, I saw someone I had met at church in the Kroger parking lot. It was the first time I had recognized a familiar face in public. I humiliated my daughter as I ran over to Melody and gushed about how happy I was to see her at Kroger. It was a big moment for me. I’m sure as I walked away there was a ‘bless her heart’ tossed up in prayer for me.
This weekend at church was our Ladies’ Candlelight Dinner. As I walked through the door I was met with a chorus of “Hi, Julia!” Our table hostess introduced me and was able to share with the other ladies a description of who I was. All at once, I was overwhelmed with the realization that I belonged. I was loved. I was surrounded by family. More women in that room were friends than strangers. Three years after moving, I had roots. Thriving, growing, stretching roots.
I rarely leave the grocery store without greeting a familiar face, now. The staff at my children’s school recognize me and my children. Our Christmas cards have almost as many Arkansan addresses as Illinois. It took awhile, but this is now home. We miss our family and friends up north but look forward to returning to our home after a visit. Settling in takes time and effort, trust and faith. It requires leaving comfort zones and being the first person to reach out. A move may be difficult, but a transplant can thrive with time!