On Moving

On Sunday I announced to my church that I have been called to be senior pastor of Minnedosa Evangelical Covenant Church in Manitoba and that I would be resigning my position at Malmo Mission Covenant Church. It was an emotional moment. I don’t think I’ve ever cried publicly before, but I sure did then. It’s hard to say goodbye and it’s even harder to see my children say goodbye to their friends.

And yet when I reflect on it, moving itself is not a big deal to me. I have moved so many times in my life that it’s mostly just normal procedure. I hate the packing and the cleaning, but the actual geographical shift is not such a big deal.

  • I was born in the Netherlands in December 1977, where we lived in a townhouse, which in my memory was a wonderful little place.
  • In 1985, when I was seven-and-a-half years old I moved from that townhouse in the Netherlands to small-town Saskatchewan, Canada.
  • In Caronport, a town with a permanent population of 800 people, we moved four times. I lived in our last house there for about 9 years.
  • August 1997, I moved to Regina, Saskatchewan to attend university. For three summers I would move all my stuff back home.
  • January 2002 Dixie and I moved to Prince Albert. We lived in Prince Albert for about seven years and during that time we moved three times.
  • August 2009 we moved to Otterburne, Manitoba to attend seminary.
  • July 2012 we moved to a field near Malmo Mission Covenant Church in Alberta.
  • November 2015 we moved to a house in the city of Wetaskiwin, Alberta.
  • In 2021 we will move to Minnedosa, Manitoba.

I sometimes envy those people who have permanent geographical roots. I know so many families, particularly farm families, that have several generations of history within a one mile radius. I know one gentleman in his seventies who has lived in the same house pretty much his whole life. I can’t imagine what that kind of permanence means. I’m sure there are both good and bad things about that, but, being (nearly) 43 years old now, I’ll never know what that’s like.

I consider Caronport my home town, but my parents moved away from there some fifteen years ago. So there’s not even that as an anchor.

But my kids…my youngest daughter has observed several times in our conversations about moving that here is the longest we’ve lived anywhere as a family, but this area (8 years) and this house (5 years). She had hoped she wouldn’t have to move again. Alas, it is not to be.

I wonder what effect all the moving I’ve done in my life has had on my personality and my emotions. For example, I’ve never really missed people a whole lot, not even my parents, and maybe that has been an unconscious mechanism to cope with moving. When I first moved out I lived only 45 minutes away from my parents, but I only went home every couple of months and didn’t talk to them on the phone much more. As my mom ages, I occasionally do wish I could see her more often, to just be able to drop in whenever I want to. As it is, she’s a 10-hour drive away, and we’re moving farther away from her now. When I stay home and my wife and children go away I sometimes miss them, but, strangely, when I go away and leave them at home, I don’t feel that so much.

No, moving is not a great hardship for me. What’s hard about moving is seeing how hard it is for everyone else, not least my youngest daughter.

2 thoughts on “On Moving

  1. Johanna Croes

    My thought is that moving and missing must depend on personality. I’ve moved enough, not as much as some, but definitely more than others – the longest I’ve been in one house is 8 years, the longest in one province/state is 9 years. The older I get, the more I long for permanence and the more I’m willing to sacrifice to be near the permanent people in my life.

    As a kid, moving really made my cling to my siblings and parents, and I think, despite their faults and particular failings, my parents did a good job of being present and honest. I trusted them, I relied on them when it was desperately painful to settle down somewhere new. I left PA as quickly as I could, and life has just carried me on and away from them up until now. But this last year, since my brother had my first niece and my other brother got married, I have desperately ached to be near my family again. I don’t know if that’s like a false emptiness, if I’m just trying to fill a nameless void, or if it’s something that would actually heal if we were near. Maybe my ache for family is actually about living in the States and a different culture and never feeling like I can speak freely. In any case, I’ve noticed I miss people more the older I get. I yearn for roots and the deep connections you can only get with time and history. I do still hope I’ll be lucky enough to find that soon.

  2. Marc

    I hear you. I do think it gets harder as you get older. You start to value life and relationship more, because life is getting shorter and your loved ones are getting older.

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