Dave Rhodes

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The Subversive Gift of the Move

I don’t know anyone who likes moving themselves.

In fact, I believe movers are one of the best inventions of all time.

It’s the word all our friends hope to hear from the moment we tell them we are changing houses. “So are you getting movers?” they ask sheepishly, silently hoping by movers we don’t mean them. Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to help my friends out on this one—every time we’ve moved my friends and I have been our movers. And yes—on many occasions I have returned the favor and been one of their “movers” as well.

The past three years, living in Pawley’s Island, we have moved in and moved out lots of people. And in this season it’s been our turn to move. We haven’t gotten our furniture out yet (please pray for our house to sell), but our family has already taken our most basic essentials and joined our new missional family in Atlanta. And like all moves, we’ve found it’s required adjustment.  We literally are living currently out of our suitcases.


Here’s what I’ve found about moving though—moving reveals a lot about what we call normal. It’s when we move our furniture that we find out just how treaded our carpet has been in it’s current pathway and set up. It’s in moving we find out just how much extra stuff has made it’s way between our couch cushions or under our beds. It’s in moving we find out what furniture might not have been working the way it should have been and why. Yes—these are the subtle and subversive gifts of the move we might not discover any other way.

I’m thinking about that today, because even though we haven’t moved out our furniture yet, the less physical staples of our life are in the middle of an adjustment period. As a Family on Mission, we know just how important the predictable patterns and routines of life are. But nothing tries those patterns more than trying to establish those patterns in a different place. And nothing gives us more opportunity to evaluate those patterns than a move.

So here’s where we are—caught between adjustment and normal. Many of the normal patterns we’ve established in the past we think are really healthy. A few of the patterns are not though, so we are trying to learn from our mistakes and make adjustments. We’re not there yet—but at least we know where we are.

In the patterns of health we hope to fully return to, it can be kind of frustrating in this in-between time. Because we know what it means for the family to work and work well, we sense our current brokenness on this level. But it’s the gift of our healthy normal to know just what we need to return to and why. As we all know on every level—“there is one thing worse than being broken, and that is being broken and not knowing it.” So whether it’s in our leadership, our work or our family rhythms the gift of a healthy normal is that it helps us know when we are broken and what to return to.

And yes, there are things that we are adjusting in our normal rhythms and patterns as we enter a new culture, with new people and new surroundings. Like the gift of placing our old furniture in a new house, so being around new people, new cultures and new surroundings help us determine what both our old stuff can do that we had no idea of, and what it’s limitations might be. It’s in learning from new people that we see the places we might have called what is actually unhealthy “normal” and learned to accept it. And it’s in these places that we seek to adjust. The gift of the move is that it not only gives us that opportunity, but it helps us do so.

My hope though is that moving won’t be the only time we do this. My hope is that from time to time we will at least move the furniture around our new house to do two things—first, evaluate whether our normal is healthy and if not adjust it. And second, in places where normal is healthy but we’ve been pulled out of normal—return to it.

Like all leaders and families we will not be fully functional all the time. There will be moments when we break. But the gift of evaluating normal is that at least we will know we are broken and learn from it.

So if you’re moving today, like so many of our friends are, why not take this moment to evaluate and adjust? And if you’re not moving, like many of our other friends, why not at least move the furniture around and evaluate and adjust anyway?