Leaving and cleaving.

4:20 PM

   We have been busy lately. Things always seem to get a little quieter around here (the blog, that is) when things start spinning in the "real world", and that is to be expected I guess.  But even more so than the usual blog-quietness lately there has just been a sort of vacuum in my soul lately.  That sounds dramatic but I guess that's about how it feels.  A vacuum.  A black hole, of sorts.  Sucking and shrinking my entire creative process.  I have felt very little desire to write, to photograph, to create anything really.  It seems to take enough energy these days to just.....be.

   And somehow I know that really, that should be enough.  I have a full life and it is one I try not to take for granted, and I try hard to remember to be thankful for, but I think we all have those days (weeks, months, whatever) in which we are left wanting.....what?  I don't even know.  More? Change?  Neither?  Just left wanting, I guess.  And so I guess that's what it's sort of felt like. Like as if when I stop writing and feeling and creating and pouring out into this small space online that I claim as my own, in return I stop feeling the gratitude and the awe and the wonder of my small life.  And in return, it makes me want to write even less, and you can see how it all feeds upon itself.

   You would think that one would have to try and dredge up good things about ones life to blog about it.  But rather, when I just write about what IS, and I take the small and mundane and the ordinary and record them, give them their own space in the timeline of my life......it somehow makes them into something more than what they even are.  It's like Ann Voskamp's theory that giving thanks for even the silliest of trifles can somehow make it into more than what it is......the curve of sunlight on the bubbles in your dishwater.....the gleam of the moon over the folds of your pillow.....the whisper of eyelashes from a baby against your face.  Giving thanks for those things, however so small somehow makes them bigger....grander.  And it reminds you of what you truly have, and that vacuum in your soul begins to fill again.

   But I guess lately the vacuum has just been there, sucking and taking and draining me dry, and I haven't done much to fight it.  Add to that the insane busy-ness of all the things we have been doing lately, and it's just all piled on top of each other.

   Not an ideal time or frame of mind for homesickness to strike, but then I suppose those things don't normally take your feelings into consideration.  

   I have felt such real pangs of homesickness lately, it just nearly defeats me.  It all feels so unfair....so unjust.  That while others have myriads of family surrounding them constantly, pouring into their lives and offering support, help, and friendship at every given moment....that for some reason it was my lot in life not to have mine near me.  And while of course at the same moment I know all of that line of thought is ridiculous because I CHOSE this life, it still doesn't make it feel any better.

And then I get sucked back down into that black hole again.

   The "Why me?" hole.  The "It's just not fair" hole.  I watch people around me and I wither up inside, wishing for what they have, wanting what I have not.  And there's no life to be found in that, ever.

   I was asked to speak at my sister-in-law Stephanie's shower, and at first I was like, "What do I even have to talk about?" But then I was amazed at how quickly it all came to me.  I spoke about leaving and cleaving.  It was such a timely thing too, as it is something I have been thinking a lot about recently.  Also because Stephanie is planning on moving to Ohio (where Chris is from) after the wedding, and experiencing and processing an adjustment much like I did, after moving out here.

  It has been 5 years now, that we've been leaving and cleaving and living our lives together.  I was going to do a post on our fifth anniversary (April 11th) but of course that happened right along with everything else for a while, and I just didn't get around to it.  I am grateful to be here.  To be celebrating a milestone many marriages never see.  But I am not proud, as I know it is not in my strength or power that I am continuing to faithfully commit myself to one person, day in, and day out.  It is the power of Christ in me.

   Though it may seem a bit lengthy, I think I'll copy and paste the speech onto here, in case it will be of interest to anyone else.  Maybe there is a bride-to-be out there anticipating a similar move, or perhaps there is a bride who has been married for 17 years but has never forgotten the pain of acclimating to a new church, a new family, a new place, a new community and a new home.  I don't know if anyone needs to hear it or not, but I just thought I would share.  I found a list on the Go-to-Mom of six ways to "make your new family your top priority" and then based the rest of my talk around that. Here it is:

   In the Bible, God tells us that “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

    It would seem at first glance that this applies to the husband only because it says the man will leave his father and mother but if you look closer, you realize that it most certainly applies to both because it says THE TWO will become one flesh.  THE TWO.  Not the two and her mother, not the two and his brothers, not the two and their aunts and uncles and cousins, but THE TWO will become one flesh. 

   One flesh.  One family.  Your marriage creates a new family, and needs to become a higher priority than your previous family.  This DOES NOT mean that your previous family is replaced, or that you are somehow forsaking your family for Chris.  But it means that you and Chris, after being united in marriage, will become a brand new family of your own.  And for some, that transition is very difficult.  

   For myself, and soon for you Stephanie, and for many other women in this room, the transition didn’t stop at forming a new family, but in settling in a new land, a new church, a new community and a new home.  In some ways, this is extremely difficult and will not come easily or always go smoothly.   I have heard it can take up to seven years to feel truly acclimated and adjusted to a new home, and so don’t become too discouraged if it seems to be taking longer than you had hoped it would.  
   But also be encouraged, because I think that moving can actually be an advantage when it comes to “leaving and cleaving”.  It is a lot easier to embrace the new family unit of you and your husband when you are thousands of miles away from your family.   A blessing in disguise, I suppose.:) 

   So here are 6 tips to helping make your “new family” your first priority.  (Found via the Go-To mom.)

1. Respect your spouse’s wishes over your parent’s wishes.  
   After marriage, what Chris thinks and feels is far more important than what your parents or extended family thinks and feels.

2.  Establish holiday traditions for your new family.
   Family traditions hold such special meaning and if the two of you choose to continue some of them in your own family, that is great.  But embrace the beginning of fresh new traditions that the two of you can start and enjoy in your family for years to come.

3.  Be prepared to grieve.  
   Choosing to establish the foundation of your “new family” means that you will likely experience a sense of loss of the traditions, habits, routine and gatherings that your family may continue on without you.  Even in the midst of grief, however, it is important to focus on what you are gaining rather than what you are losing.

4.  Focus on becoming one flesh.  The Bible says that “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”   Becoming one flesh requires you and Chris to think for yourselves, learning the art of communication and compromise and determine what is best for your new family.  

5.  Share your feelings, thoughts and desires with Chris before anyone else.
   A red flag should go up if you are discussing something with extended family before discussing it with Chris.

6.  Be willing to establish boundaries with family.
   This is never easy, but it is an important part of building a foundation of trust and respect between you and Chris in your “new family”.

   When I first moved to Oregon, there were so many things I just could not quite understand or learn to appreciate.  That strange, awful scent of the paper mill.  The endless, endless rain.  People called little trucks “pickups” and big trucks “trucks” when all along I just thought they were all called trucks.  
   When harvest time rolled around, everything else in life came to an absolute halt.  I mean everything.  Everything revolved around harvest time because everyone was married to a farmer, working for a farmer, or related to a farmer, or so it seemed.  
   And as for the weather…..well, seasons as I always knew them were completely different.  I missed the snow and the ice and even the brutality of winter because it brought it’s own set of sweet memories….snow forts and sledding and snowmobiling across frozen ponds.  I missed the extreme summer heat and yes, even the relentless humidity and chasing fireflies like diamonds in the night sky that I never see anymore.  
I miss the 4th of July at my grandparents house.  
   I missed the rural country gravel roads that were horrid to drive on but led me to all of my loved ones.  
I even missed pumping my own gas because it meant that I was home.  

   But I have come to love and cherish new things.  The salt spray and rugged beauty of the coast.  The majestic snow-covered peaks and the deep purple of the foothills at sunset.  And the endless rain, does eventually end., bringing daffodils and that long-awaited sunshine.  
   And so the things that you are as familiar with as anything in this world, were the unfamiliar, foreign things that I had to learn to love.  And so it will be with you.  It won’t be easy, but the things in this life that are most worth it, never are.  Like leaving and cleaving, or learning to make a foreign land your home.  

I know Stephanie, with God’s help, you will be amazing at both.  We love you.


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  1. Judy H. told me this past weekend about your talk as we somehow got on the topic of how east and west cultures are so different...and it is hard for new brides to adjust to either when they are used to the other. And now I get to read it for myself! Love what you have to say. And how I identify with missing the WINTER and getting tired of RAIN when I was a new bride in OR!!

  2. oh, girl.. do i get this! the "why me?" of not having family near and it seeming everyone else does. love your thoughts here, so good. and needed these words to help me out of the black hole of self pity i've felt sunken in lately as well.


  3. Thank you so much for sharing. I've moved 13 hours from home after marriage and will eventually be moving even farther. Just knowing I'm not alone in the homesickness and the pain of not being with my family helps.

  4. This post is perfect timing for me as I have been feeling homesick lately. I loved the 6 points, and have found for myself (2 years after moving) that while it does get better with time, I still have days when I'm so homesick I cry. Thanks for being honest! Its encouraging to know other people face thr same things

  5. Wow, I SO relate, and I'm only half and hour from my 'old' family! For me is isn't the distance that matters, but the difference in--I don't know--the ways of relating, the ways of thinking, the ways of TALKING that I miss... I never appreciated my old family like I do now! My family growing up was so into fast witty back-and-forth
    'repartee'... my new family is much, much calmer. You can read between the lines here! I miss my old family ways, too, and struggle with thinking that their ways were better! When my husband and I go over to my family's for dinner, he doesn't fit in, in a way (we all love each other, I just mean the way of relating is different) and sometimes seeing that makes me sad. I don't need to say that our relationship is great, it's just that really sad things and really great things can easily be true and the same time. These things are just plain painful. If it makes you feel better, I'm not sure that being closer would help you leave and cleave, because you might be even more tempted to stay attached with your old family and its ways? Sometimes I think that if we moved away it would help me totally let go of my old family! Funny, I guess the grass is always greener! Reading your post makes me think I might be wrong! sorry for the anon rant, great post!


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