By Audra Elkington
“They let me go.”
It was the week before Christmas. I was nearly 7 months pregnant with our second child after several miscarriages. I had been sitting at the kitchen table, playing Kerplunk with my three year old son, when my husband walked in from a long day at work looking more serious than usual. When he sat down at the table with me, I quickly sent our son off to play with the dog and asked “What’s going on?”
It was then that he told me he had been laid off from his job. He had survived 18 months of layoffs at his company and just the week before had been assured that he had nothing to worry about. The previous Christmas, I had been recovering from a miscarriage at 14 weeks that resulted in a D&E. And it appeared that we would be struggling through the holidays for our second year in a row.
Thanks to my husband’s career working for large, national construction companies, we go where the work is. In our 16 years of marriage, we have lived in many cities and states. Our oldest child attended a new school every year from 2nd grade through 6th grade. We were not strangers to change, but there is a big difference between choosing to move and feeling like we were forced into it.
We were lucky in that my husband was able to find a new job pretty quick. Unfortunately, it was in a different state and I had to leave behind a home and friends that I loved. While I started the move feeling incredibly depressed, little by little I learned some ways to embrace the change so I didn’t stay in those feelings. President Thomas S Monson once said, “So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference.” I was determined to see the good.
My change in attitude didn’t happen all at once, but during the few months after our move to the new state my eyes were opened to the blessings in my life. There were three main things that I did to help me embrace our unexpected path.
I forced myself to leave our house every single day that I felt good enough to do so. I tried to explore a new street, a new shopping center, preschools - anything that would help me to begin feeling more connected to our new city. The first time I was able to drive to Target without using my GPS, I remember feeling like I would be okay. That I wouldn’t always feel out of place. Getting familiar with new surroundings goes a long way to helping you feel more settled.
For most of my life, I was incredibly shy. I definitely was not the first person to start a conversation. Moving around a lot has forced me to change that part of my personality. Within a couple days of our move, I was invited to a group playdate with some women from our new church congregation. I had not met any of the women; the invite had actually come from one of their husbands while he was helping us unload our moving truck. As scared as I was, I was not prepared to spend my last three months of pregnancy completely alone with a three year old. So, we showed up at playdate. Immediately, my son was whisked off to play trains with the other kids and the hostess offered me a drink and sat down next to me on the sofa. Within minutes, all the moms were having an easy, fun conversation. The invitations continued to come over the next few weeks. They threw me a baby shower and took me to the beach for my Birthday, thus filling the void I felt from the friends I had left behind.
Do the small and simple things.
In the midst of big life change, it is so easy to forget to do the little things that keeps us grounded. But, the consistency of continuing our routines is so helpful in keeping things somewhat normal. It is also in doing the little things, we give the Lord space to step in and comfort us. Gordon B Hinckley said, “Our direction is set by the little day-to-day choices which chart the track on which we run.” Our attitude can be determined by the simple things we do consistently.
Change is rarely planned and often comes with a tinge of disappointment from unmet expectations. But, if we are willing to embrace change, we will be able to see the good that comes because of it.