Would I go or would I stay? Chapter 3 – NOT MOVING was a pivotal point in my journey. My family moved nearly 80 times and I lived in almost 20 states before I graduated high school, yet at this point in my life—the spring of my junior year of high school—I was done moving, regardless of what my dad was going to do.
Becoming a highly competitive high school wrestler drove me to success and a sense of personal pride. It helped me belong and have hope. My dad was about to take that away from me again and I was resolved to dig my heels in. Sports—particularly wrestling—had become my life. I wasn’t about to lose it.
Yet, I didn’t want to lose my family either. My older sister, Terri ran away from home at thirteen and finished high school with a foster family. My older brother, Jimmy also ran away at thirteen and finished high school with a friend’s family who took him in. When they left, it broke my heart. I missed them dearly. I had three younger brothers and a younger sister, as well and I didn’t want them to go through what I went through, yet I felt like I had no choice.
What do we do when our family wants something different than us?
How do we handle the conflict?
I cannot begin to tell you the depth of what this chapter ultimately means in my life.
I moved into Springfield, Ohio after serving in the Marine Corps in 1996. I have lived there ever since. At first, I loved it. The people were so much nicer than those in Small Town, Colorado. The grass was literally greener without even having to water it. The trees were large and full of enormous, lush leaves. I loved the biological contrast from my days out west where everything, it seemed, was dead.
The people I met in Springfield—primarily those at High Street Church of the Nazarene—had taken me in as family. They loved me. They accepted me. They even admired me.
Yet, in the years to come, I began to truly hate the weather in Ohio. It wasn’t the clouds and rain, though I did notice that and have been annoyed by the lack of sunshine from time to time. It was the cold and bitter winters. I know, I know, the winters were not much different than Colorado.
It’s not that I grew up in the warmth, but I had the most difficult, depressing winter when I was deployed on a Med Float in the Marine Corps. My wife was pregnant during that time with medical complications and I was half-way across the world from her.
Winter has depressed me ever since.
I have wanted to move south for more than twenty years. My wife and I have discussed it and even made plans to do it a few times, yet never felt like it was the right thing to do at that time. Ultimately, we stayed for the benefit of our girls.
My dad wanted to move and did so many times for selfish, personal reasons. Yet, when he made the decision to move (oftentimes on a whim), we simply did it—at a moment’s notice.
I resolved to never treat my family like that. My wife and I have had many, many discussions on potentially moving and ultimately, we have stayed because we were never on the same page to move at the same time.
I believe, in my heart and with everything that I know, that we have made the right decision for our girls. I believe we made the right decision for our marriage. I hope that they know that I have continued to live in a climate that contributes to my winter blues for their benefit. I hope they know it is because I love them, I have been willing to sacrifice for them. That’s what a parent should do. That’s what a husband should do.
Here are the lessons learned…
Communicate: When big, important decisions come into play in our lives, we must communicate with those we love before we make decisions. We must know how it will impact them and how they feel about it. We must ask and we must listen. They may not make the decision for us, but we need to know how it will impact them.
Sacrifice: Great leadership requires sacrifice. No one taught this better than Jesus, simply by the way he lived his life and ultimately his death. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 If we are to lead our families well, we must be willing to sacrifice for their benefit. This is the type of leadership that Jesus demonstrated and the type of leadership that best benefits the whole family.
I know that my time will come and it is coming soon. I can’t wait to tell you about it.
But for now, know this.
When big, important decisions in your life come—talk to your family about them. Listen to them. And make the decision about what’s best for the entire family, not just yourself. Be willing to sacrifice, if necessary.