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Moving Matters, Part II

Two seeming miracles have taken place in Edmond, Okla.—and now I am wishing for even more.

As I reported in a previous column, our house went under contract a week after being put on the market, the first miracle. The catch was that we were to close and vacate before Christmas—which also would be several days before our younger child’s birthday. As it turned out, the second miracle was that the closing was delayed and we were able to remain in the house through Christmas. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
What a relief—especially to this mother who was feeling guilty enough about moving children from friends, schools, church and activities. I don’t know if our quick sale and its ultimately great timing were really God-things, but I do know they are what my family and I prayed for, and we are grateful.
 
In the midst of the ups and downs of our moving process, I have been pondering what all these changes might mean to each one of us four Zurheides and to our family as a whole. Of course, the impact of the move remains to be seen. But it will no doubt be significant, as was our relocation from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Connecticut to Oklahoma five-and-a-half years earlier.
 
I can’t help but wonder what my children’s lives would be like if we had remained in Connecticut instead of moving to Oklahoma. What would they be like if we stayed in Oklahoma now? We finite humans, limited in vision, can imagine, but we can’t ever really know the extent to which major life decisions—or sometimes even our small choices—actually effect us.
 
Movies—one from several years ago was called “Sliding Door” with Gwyneth Paltrow—sometimes show two scenarios, each based on a different response to a choice. But unlike the movies, we can never see the multiple potential results of our range of choices.
 
It’s one thing to accept that the choices I make have potentially far-reaching consequences for me. It’s quite another to consider the consequences my choices have on others, especially my children.
 
I feel responsible for the situations in which I forcibly place my children. While I can’t be them, and I can’t make their choices, they are still of an age to be “carried along” by moves and other circumstances their parents impose on them. I wonder—is it fair to shuffle them around the country like this? Is it bad? Is it good? Will they know negative emotional consequences as a result? Or will they reap some positive benefits—imagined or impossible to conceive of—from these changes we are thrusting on them?
 
Both my husband and I lived our entire childhoods in one (though not the same) town. Our growing up experiences were fine. Would they have been better or worse had our families been mobile? Who knows?
 
On the one hand, human beings, and children especially, are said to be remarkably resilient. On the other hand, the value of stability and security in young lives can’t be overrated. On the one hand, experience with various communities could be a character-building, confidence-strengthening challenge that prepares my children for adaptations required in adulthood. On the other hand, providing geographic roots in our rapidly spinning world could be a wonderful gift to them.
 
These ambivalences may be coming a little late. One great benefit from making such a significant family change is that it does motivate me to seek divine help for meeting challenges that are clearly too big for me.
 
As a parent, I am asking for miracles beyond those of selling houses and arranging calendars. I am asking that my children would adjust well to vast changes. I am asking that they would make healthy new relationships. I am asking that God would protect their emotions throughout our transition—not entirely shelter them from the pain and grief of loss that must be part of this moving process, but keep them essentially whole.
 
Those are the personal miracles I pray for in 2004, as I trust that the security of God’s perfect loving presence and the feeble reflection of the same that is found in our family will be enough stability for my children and their parents as we move on together. May you and yours also know God’s ever-present care through whatever transitions this year brings.