My dear friend, Lindsey, unexpectedly FaceTimed me last week. As usual, we started squealing when the connection grew strong enough to finally see the other’s face.
“BRITT!!!! How are you? How is your heart?!“, the first thing out her mouth.
(Everyone needs a friend that will ask questions like this.)
I quickly responded,”Good! I’m actually doing really well!!“, with a big cheesy smile. “Believe it or not, I think my transition to Germany has actually been easier than my transition to St. Louis was”, I proudly told her…..
It’s no secret that I was less than thrilled when we received orders to move to Germany, which made my response to her question an exciting one. A reassuring one, if you will.
Everyone and their mother had warned us that “this PCS is one of the hardest”. With it being our first and only PCS (Permanent Change of Station aka MOVE), we didn’t have much to compare it too, so we didn’t take their opinions lightly.
We had about 2 months to complete a never ending to-do list that looked something like this:
- Update passports
- Look for houses in Germany
- Separate household goods into 4 different groupings
- Store 110-volt appliances/electronics
- Start researching/buying 220-volt appliances/electronics
- Buy a new bedroom suit, mattress and bedding
- Study for German driver’s test
- Pass German driver’s test
- Ship car
- Sell other car
- Learn (some) German
- Suspend all American utilities, tithes, subscriptions, etc.
- Book hotel stateside
- Book Temporary Lodging in Germany
- Buy down jackets and other winter gear
- Clean rental home
- Save a minimum of $5k (HA)
(Of course, all while finishing up at our respective jobs, completing a master’s degree (William), buying and wrapping Christmas gifts, being intentional about giving friends and family hugs goodbye, and squeezing in a few more memories in our first home/city for ourselves.)
We were essentially eating, sleeping, breathing logistics. And then some.
Moving overseas was no joke. I don’t think my brain has ever worked so hard.
But after months of preparing, packing and praying… I feel like I busted into 2017 with my fists up; the phrase “Bring It!” tattooed across my forehead (okay, not really the second part).
I think my move to St. Louis is actually the one to blame for this attitude.
We had been married a week and some change when I made my first real move away from the South, with a bunch of “new” jumping at me from every angle — New husband. New family. New city. New home. New culture. New church. New friends. New job. New weather. New sports teams. New everything.
As I started to remember how many tears I lost and how much my heart literally ached during that transition to the mid-west, I knew I probably needed to prepare myself even more so for our upcoming move across the pond.
We’ve been in Germany for a month now and it has brought just as much (if not more) newness than St. Louis did… but I’m finding that it’s different.
With my move to St. Louis, I had the additional emotions that come with being newlywed. Not only had I moved to a new city, state and home, but I was now living with
a strange man my husband for the first time.
William had moved to the mid-west 2.5 years prior and had (rightfully-so) established a life for himself there. Honestly, I felt bitter as I was ‘forced’ to jump into ‘his’ life… as I moved into ‘his’ house, worshiped at ‘his’ church, hung out with ‘his’ friends, joined ‘his’ community group, ate at ‘his’ favorite restaurants…
The logistics were all taken care of. There was nothing to research or plan (my specialty) with this move.
Basically, there was a major lack of brain work which in return, made my heart work.
Of course, there wasn’t any actually force used in any of these decisions. It was just the most natural and easiest path for us to take. But, I think it was the first time in my life I felt stripped of making ‘choices for myself’ (hello, marriage), and it was surprisingly difficult for me to except.
My heart had to work really hard during that move. It had to grow to be open to this new thing called marriage, to this idea of being friends with people that weren’t just like me, to living really far from family and friends and the events that came with it, to going to work when it’s snowing outside (WHAT!), to dressing way more casual than I wanted to, to going to the grocery store and not bumping into anyone I knew, to cheering for the Cardinals instead of the Braves (well, kind of)…..
The point is, it took time. After months of tears and doubts and feeling like a fish out of water — I, thankfully, grew to not only love ‘my’ life in St. Louis, but OUR life in St. Louis. (I even joke with William every now and then “you sure did a great job setting up my life for me”)… but jokes aside, it obviously wasn’t initially easy for me to see that.
Obviously, our move to Germany hasn’t been without challenges.
The world’s most intimidating to-do list prior to shipping out wasn’t without red tape, and we’ve had our fair share of hiccups since arrival.
There’s the obvious language barrier. The adjustment to different heating and cooling systems. The outrageous amount of time it takes to do a load of laundry. We constantly don’t know what to put where when it comes to recycling or how far away we should keep our composter from our house. It takes longer to get everywhere and the road signs are still a bit confusing (should I be admitting that?). And, Target and LaCroix are no where to be found. Sigh.
But the difference is that we’re together. We came at the same time to a place that neither of us had been. Not that we have been married long by any stretch of the imagination, but we’ve somewhat learned how to live together by now. We found a home together, made friendships together, decided on a church together…
It was our first time to move, to make life decisions, to be completely confused, excited, lost, embarrassed and alone, together…
And so while my brain might feel completely fried… I’ve found that my heart got to sit back and relax a little more this time around.
I don’t know if what I’m saying is making any sense. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve even completely figured it out in my own head. (I blame it on all the logistics.)
But what I’m trying to convey is that I thought my move to St. Louis would be a good “stepping stone” toward the even harder move to Germany… but now I’m realizing that moving away to St. Louis might have been the hardest (yet, most rewarding) thing I’ve done to date.
St. Louis drained my heart, while Germany fried my brain.
And while both of those events sound exhausting, I’m discovering that I feel more confident when it comes to brain work. That for me, brain work means less tears and less doubt. While heart work, has this strange ability to immobilize me for some time. Which for me, brings a lot of questioning and even more tears.
There are many playing parts to what has made it “easier” (personality preference, experience, togetherness, personal growth, prayer, etc.) and I haven’t quite put my finger on the magnitude of each one. (And I might not be able to.)
But as I sit at home today, unemployed, still without a car, wifi, cable and the majority of our belongings…
I’m taking time to thank God for different seasons and paths of growth, for both the brain and heart He has gifted me, the many people that have prayed for us during BOTH of these transitions, and for His mighty and faithful hand in all of it.
While there’s still a lot of confusion about how I got to this point, there’s no doubt in my mind that I’m in the very BEST hands.