‘Tis the season for moving in the United Methodist church. Even if this isn’t a move year for you personally, you are probably not immune to the associated stresses of appointment changes; from friends and lectionary group members to accountability partners and trusted mentors, there’s likely someone in your life who is gearing up for a move right now. Consider these move-related statistics:
- Individuals move an approximate 11.7 times during their life. (US Census Bureau)
- In 2012, 12% of the US population, or 36.5 million people, moved residences. 64% of these people moved within the same county; of those people who moved to a different county, most of them still only moved less than 50 miles away. (US Census Bureau)
- In North Carolina, approximately 14% of UMC pastors move each year, with elders moving more frequently than local pastors. (WNCC and NCC data)
- Moving is the third most stressful life event, coming just behind the death of a loved one or divorce. (Employee Relocation Council)
That last statistic is pretty compelling. Moving is stressful for anyone, and pastors have the added pressures of preparing final sermons, uprooting your spouse and children, packing up a house in record time, submitting conference paperwork, and making good first impressions with the new congregation. And what about those moves that occur unexpectedly or against your wishes?
Whether you are in the midst of packing (literally and metaphorically) or whether you’re supporting others in this transition, we hope you’ll make time for some self-care in this busy and stressful season:
- Schedule a massage or pedicure.
- Write a letter of gratitude to the lectionary or accountability group you’ll be leaving behind.
- Keep to your normal routine and regular self-care habits (exercise, good nutrition, prayer time, journaling, Sabbath, etc.) as much as possible.
- Grab lunch with a neighbor whom you’ll miss.
- Stop by your favorite restaurant or park one last time. Take pictures of places and people that have been meaningful to you in this town. Do this with a sense of gratitude for these experiences, rather than of loss.
- Take time to jot down highlights of the current appointment — ways you’ve grown, and ways you’ve been challenged.
- Embrace your emotions and live in the moment; don’t try to power through this stressful time just by focusing on logistics. Check in with your spouse and kids to see how they’re feeling about the move, too. Read more here about the emotional side of moving.
I leave you with these words of encouragement from an old standby, Isaiah 40:31–
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Top photo by Flickr user ishootreno, lower photo by Flickr user Anna Saarinen, both via Creative Commons)