One of my favourite authors, Myquillyn Smith, who wrote Cozy Minimalist Home and Welcome Home, recently sold her dream house of nine years and moved to a new house with her family, which she will need to fix up and decorate from scratch again. I watched the video of her and her husband explaining why they decided to sell the house and move, and it brought up many thoughts and emotions in me.
As their three kids have grown into adults and some part of their business was forced to cancel due to the pandemic, they sensed they had entered into a new season of marriage, work and parenting. The house they bought nine years ago well served its purpose in a season, and now that season has ended. Though they had invested and done much work in that house over the years, it was time to let go.
Myquilliyn was in tears when she talked about ending one season and moving to the next. I felt her, for I’ve been there too. And I found so much wisdom and comfort in their decision-making process.
When we were younger, we thought everything in life should remain the same.
My childhood home should always be there around the corner of the road.
My mom should always look young, slim and beautiful.
I would always play with my cousin every Friday afternoon in the backyard.
We would feel surprised or unprepared when unexpected or unwanted change came our way. We didn’t understand that life was like a river; it flows ahead, day by day, even without us realising it. Not a single day passed would leave us altogether the same as yesterday, whether it is our physical bodies or state of being.
As in nature, the leaves slowly alter their colours as days go by, moving from one season to the next. Our lives are similar; day by day, we gradually move from one season to another. I like this analogy because it gives me a framework to explain my own experience.
Leaving Switzerland last October was the ending of a season. My husband and I had married there for five years, and our children were 4 and 2. I’d grown to love that country so deeply since first arriving there nine years ago, even living in our tiny one-bedroom apartment in the heart of the city of Geneva. We were about to move to an entirely new country in the Middle East, one we had never visited. We had about four months to process the upcoming transition as my husband was waiting to sign the contract from the company.
During those months, we had countless meals with friends, held a birthday party for our son, took long walks by the lake, road-tripped the German part, deep cleaned our rental apartment and handed over the key. We tried to soak every remaining moment in Switzerland until that day finally came—we stacked five pieces of luggage in a van and drove to the airport.
I felt heartbroken as we said goodbyes to many people we’ve grown to love. Yet, I also felt excited about the unknown future, as any ending is also a new beginning.
Now, we’ve lived in Abu Dhabi for eight months. We’ve passed the initial adjusting phase and felt very much settled. I’ve legally set up my art business and got my driver’s license. Our new season of life seems to find its cadence.
Do I reminisce about our life in Switzerland? Sometimes. Do I miss my hometown in China? Occasionally. Do I wish we had never moved to Abu Dhabi? Never, because it’s a gift to live here.
Life’s journey has taken me to different places and seasons, and each location and time formed a part of my identity. To let go is to proclaim that “I have had it, but it doesn’t have me.” Maturing happens in the in-between of attaching and detaching to a time and space.
Currently, we live in the “Abu Dhabi phase”. How long will we stay here? It’s not a question that rushes for an answer. However long it might be, our children will grow up, and my husband and I will grow older and wiser.
Dear friend, if you find yourself at the beginning of ending a season of life, I want to give you some tips to help you go through this phase, as I’ve gone through it myself multiple times before.
- Take time to process the change. We don’t always have control of the timeframe for a significant change in life. Sometimes it comes suddenly; other times, we can anticipate it. Either way, there will be a range of emotions involved in the transition. Be gentle with yourself. Take time to sit with your feelings or cry. Refrain the urge of wanting to feel “normal” again, therefore, rushing the grieving. Sweetheart, there is no such thing as “feeling normal”. Your life is ever-changing, even on a small scale, and it’s ok. Your perspective gets to renew with it.
- Write down the life-giving and life-draining things that happened in the past season. Give thanks for the good things that happened and the bad things that will soon end with the season.
- Write down the lessons you have learned in the past season. You get to take them with you and apply them in the next!
- Spend time in prayer and Bible reading. Let God’s words comfort and encourage you. Trust God for the next phase. He is a good Father, and he will always take care of you in every season of life. I have experienced God’s timely provision and guidance a thousand times, and He will do just that for you.
- Remember, every ending comes with a new beginning. You get to live in a new reality in the coming days and years and build a new phase of life or house (in Myquillyn’s case) you love.