Shortly after Joel asked me to marry him, we discussed where we would live. Since he lived in Wisconsin and I lived in Ohio, one of us was going to have to move away from family, friends and "home".
We did not think about the "right or wrong" of our decision, or what the Bible had to say about such matters, it was simply a matter of the fact that Joel was going to be the sole bread-winner of our family and so we would live in Wisconsin. We did discuss the fact that it would be difficult and Joel promised me that if it was too hard for me to leave my family, we could move to Ohio.
To be honest, that promise kept me from embracing my new life in Wisconsin. I loved my husband, and home but I missed my family terribly. I called my mom everyday. I wondered what my sisters were doing and wished I could go shopping with them. I missed singing with them and even the simple tasks of cleaning the house and cooking, made me long for the days when we used to work together.
I felt terribly guilty for being happy away from my family. And when I became pregnant with my first baby, I couldn't help but feel how "unfair" it was for my mom to miss out on the life of her grandchild. And always in the back of my mind was that nagging thought that someday I MIGHT be able to live near my family. He had promised after all.
Time and events transpired and due to a number of situations, we did end up moving to Ohio. I was elated. But what I failed to realize was that marriage changes family relationships. My sisters now had husbands, homes and children of their own. Gone were the days of cleaning the house together, shopping when the notion entered our minds and singing just to pass the time away. We all had responsibilities. In short, married life was far different than life as a single, care-free girl.
The proverbial shoe was now on the other foot and Joel was extremely home-sick. He missed hunting and playing sports with his brothers, he missed the land, the Packers, everything that he had once held dear. He was miserable. And I began to realize what I had put him through by choosing to "mourn" my family. I made up my mind that if I was ever asked to leave my family again, I would "leave and cleave". I would choose joy. I would bloom where God planted me.
In a few short years, time would find us back in Wisconsin. But this time, I embraced the differences, celebrated the beautiful state God had placed me in, and chose to love those hard-working Germans. Things were very much the same as the first time, but my mind-set was different. Wisconsin was where God wanted me, Joel's family was my family, and I chose to be happy.
I realized that there was a great possibility that my children would have to move away when the time came and I began to prepare them for that time, early on. We discussed the Biblical example of Rebekah leaving her family. When differences of opinions arose, I encouraged them to be kind to one another, because, "We only have a few short years together before God calls us to different areas to shine our lights for Him." The simple matter of pointing out the beautiful differences in each state/region/country molded a mind-set that God created each one and that there was good in each situation if one would search for it. I talked openly about how difficult it would be for them to move away, but that I did not want them "mourning" me or our way of life. I encouraged them to embrace their new life, to bloom where God planted them. I also wanted to make sure that they did not feel they were betraying me by accepting their husband's mother. I wanted them to have a good, healthy relationship with their in-laws and so I did everything in my power to encourage that.
Twenty years have come and gone and this past August, Anna and Ethan were united in marriage. They live roughly a thousand miles away. I am so glad that I spent the time preparing Anna for life away from Wisconsin and me. She is happy and I know she misses us, but she is embracing the life God has called her to.