When my kids were going into tenth, eighth, and sixth grades, my husband and I uprooted them from everything they loved and moved them to a strange, unfamiliar land 1,500 miles away. Even though it was still in the contiguous United States, it felt like a foreign country. There were very few trees, and even less grass. And the houses weren’t made of brick or siding, they were made of adobe.
The “foreign” land we’d moved our kids to was Albuquerque, NM. Our new house was situated at elevation 5326 feet, near the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, in what’s called the High Desert.
New Mexico is a hard place in the literal sense. It’s filled with dusty ground, boulders, rock landscapes (they’re called xeriscapes, another thing I had to learn), and tumbleweeds that stack up in the cul-de-sac during the windy season like snow drifts in the Midwest.
But our family also experienced a hard place figuratively. We had no friends. And we had to start over in every way—schools, church, neighborhood, job. It was rough. There were days I struggled to keep it together. Inevitably, one of the kids would then fall apart, pulling me from the shallow to the deep end of my pool of sorrow.
Maybe you’re in a hard season of your own today. Perhaps you’ve been relocated without a choice—to a land of divorce, illness, loss, raising challenging children, addiction, abuse, or caring for elderly parents—and you don’t know how to navigate your new terrain
It can be difficult to know where to begin, but we can walk out our hard journey with insight, wisdom, and clarity by packing a couple essentials.
Establish a Mindset
I chose to pack my bags for Albuquerque with a pile of positivity and hope for our future. I embraced the phrase “Bloom where you’re planted” to remind myself to look at the beauty in our new surroundings instead of focusing on what we’d left behind. This mindset helped me withstand the difficult days, and helped me keep my eyes on what I could do to be sure I was blooming and not wilting.
Your mindset can be anything that resonates with you, from a bible verse, an expression, a mantra, a biblical truth, phrase, or quote. The sky’s the limit; you just have to be sure you’re keeping your eyes on the new found mentality as opposed to your circumstance. If you can keep your thoughts framed in the positive, you’ll be less likely to get stranded down the dark path of negativity.
Determine your Non-Negotiables
Another essential in a difficult situation is to create a list of your non-negotiables. This will ensure you stay on track and provide a better plan for the journey ahead.
After our move, it was important that the kids knew we would always have the relationships we left behind as a priority in our life. That’s why one of our absolutes for the first year was to travel back to see family and friends at both Christmas and for an extended time in the summer. We also allowed the kids to attend the same summer camps and mission trips they’d attended previously. Maintaining this sense of “home”, even though we lived somewhere new was crucial to our kids’ acceptance and adjustment to our move.
As you traverse hard places, consider what your non-negotiables are in the areas of bedtime, exercise, diet, routines, and spiritual or emotional health. If you’re not sure, ask yourself what routines, guidelines, or habits you want to be sure to maintain to help you feel normal despite your difficult circumstances.
In the end, our family grew stronger as a result of those refining days, months, and years in our new land. We bonded together and deepened our faith. We learned to lean on God and each other when we had no one else.
But the essentials of a positive mindset and laying out my non-negotiables has also helped me walk through difficulties including multiple surgeries, loss of loved ones, and marital struggles. I’ve learned that no matter the trial, when we are proactive instead of reactive, we can get through it—even if it’s hard.
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