Picture this- we're settling in after our second move. We've spent three years at each previous school, just enough time for me to find my footing and start to like our surroundings before having to start again. I know it's even more frequent for most wives, especially in the beginning, but that was enough for me to resent our new situation.
So, I decided I didn't want to be there. I had to be because of other people's decisions, but that didn't mean I had to like it. If three years was becoming our typical turnaround time, I decided I could bury my head for that long. I could wait it out until we moved again. There was no need for me to get involved at this school.
But after three years (and two babies) into this place, I started to think that maybe I had made the wrong choice. Perhaps I should have stepped out and started putting roots down in this place I didn't want to be. I had come to realize that God had called us there, but I still couldn't believe His plan was better than mine.
People love to quote Jeremiah 29:11 NIV "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" When I finally studied the context around this verse, it opened my eyes to what God may be doing.It was written to people who were not where they wanted to be. The Israelites were exiled to Babylon and told just before this verse that they would be there for 70 years.
They were also told to "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Jeremiah 29:5-7
Not that I have ever been accused of being overly dramatic, but I related all too well to the exiles. So, I decided to see if God's advice to them could help me too.
What did I do?
- Talked to the parents and players and got to know them: I let my kids run amuck at the tailgates and on the field after games. It gave me an easy way to introduce myself to the parents and get to know them and the boys. And it let them see a side of coach they weren't used to. It humanized him. He was a husband and a father first, then a coach, and he dealt with a lot of chaos when he wasn't at the field house. To this day, those parents are still some of my favorite people in the entire world.
- Got involved at my kids' schools: I made an effort to start saying "Hello" and "Have a good day" at drop-off and pick-up. That led to small talk, which led to play dates, birthday invitations, and eventually many, many friends and even a spot on the PTA.
- Found a church and got connected: I went to an informational meeting about becoming members, and then I joined a small group and eventually started leading one. That led to becoming a regular volunteer, and soon enough, my favorite part of the week was walking through the doors and into our church building.
It took a long time and a lot of effort. I had to ignore that voice that kept saying, "'If you accept this invitation,' 'If you get to know this group of parents', 'If you show up too many times,' etc., then it's going to hurt all the more when you are told it's time to leave."
Picture this- every coach's wife's dream. We had a program that was on the rise, friends that became family, a house that became a beautiful home filled with wonderful memories, and a church that spoke life into our souls. Eight years later, and that's when the call to move came. And it wasn't the fact that I let my roots get so deep that I regretted. It was wasting those initial years and not growing my roots even deeper.
We just hit our four-year mark at our current school, and I'd be lying if I still didn't have to mute that nagging voice. But this time, if that call comes to move, I know that the impact that I've had on this place and that this place has had on me will far exceed the pain of removing our deeply embedded root system.