When Life Needs a Change of Direction
How One Small Gesture can Lead to Great Things.
“Sometimes one small gesture, can give you the strength to do enormous things.
A little generosity can unleash great tenderness.
Leading in time to deep, real love.
And a single conversation can change your mind, your life.
The world is no bigger than the people who inhabit it.
And together or alone, we are closer than we know”.
I watched Episode 4 (Series 7) of ‘Call the Midwife’, on the weekend, and was touched by the truth of the above words. It reminded me of a moment that signalled a major change of direction in the course of my life and our family.
Just over six years ago in Australia, Matthew, my husband and I, were in Target, shopping for our daughter’s birthday, which happened to be the next day.
I remember feeling disappointed in myself that I had left it so late.
I had always been quite organised with the children’s birthday’s, often buying them gifts months before.
However, working three days a week and caring for six children, two of them twins who were still toddlers, was beginning to stretch me in uncomfortable ways.
I often felt overwhelmed with the daily challenges of caring for a large family, whose ages ranged from 18 months to 15 years.
And on this evening, running around the store, 20 minutes before they closed, I again felt that crushing weight of being too busy, fall heavily upon my chest.
And of me, wanting to step off the fast train I had found myself frequently boarding.
I was standing in the book department and happened to glance across at the ‘self-help’ and ‘inspirational quotes’ section. One of the books caught my eye immediately.
On the front cover was a sign-post.
It was the sort that I see all the time living in country Britain – the old-fashioned wooden types, often pointing to a public footpath that meanders across a field or through a wildflower covered woodland.
This signpost had two arrows in different directions.
One was the path of busyness and the other was the path of living intentionally slower.
Underneath the signs were these words –
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is,
and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls”.
I knew that I knew, that I knew, our lives were about to change. Had to change.
We were at those crossroads, indeed standing right underneath them, within the harsh bright lights of Target.
And we had a choice to make.
I also knew it was going to be a truly difficult and gut wrenching life choice. Because it meant leaving my extended family.
I looked at Matthew and pointed to the front cover. He said, “I think this means we have to make a choice on where we live and how we live”
And I said, “I want to live in England”.
From that point onwards, we had a renewed focus and confirmed path set before us.
We wanted to be in the countryside, amongst green pastures and beautiful spring flowers.
For our children to grow up in Europe, embracing the diversity of cultures and the opportunities to travel and experience the world.
We wanted to bring our children up within a slower paced environment.
But most of all, we wanted to rid ourselves of all our material gain and live a simple life. One without so many distractions and one outside of the norm of our 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom new build home. In a rapidly growing housing estate, full of the same types of homes and gardens.
We wanted more!
I didn’t buy the book but I did buy a diary. In that diary, I documented our journey from that defining moment in Target – the small gesture which led to great things, to actually moving to the UK.
How is it that one small gesture can lead to great things?
This is what we did –
1- We made a solid decision and stuck with it – we kept our focus and began to strive towards the end goal – living in England.
2- We involved the children, daily. Speaking about our plans and allowing them to have their input and listening to their concerns and worries (of which there were quite a few, such as leaving family and friends).
3-We made small steps every day towards the end decision. This meant talking about moving, telling friends, sharing with family, selling our belongings, deciding on those things we deeply treasured, looking for employment.
4- We made the decision to not become despondent when it began to take a lot longer than we initially anticipated. A job was difficult to find from the other side of the world. Skype interviews were uncomfortable and we weren’t always familiar with the different counties of the UK. A lot of research was carried out in order to familiarise ourselves with each region of the UK.
5-We immediately chose to not wear our tinted glasses – as in – the grass always seems greener on the other side. In the case of England, I can safely say that the fields and hedgerows were exponentially more colourful (and green!) than Australia. However, that was only in nature and not in actual living.
6- Once our decision was made, we didn’t leave room for doubt. The diary I kept was a brilliant time-line of events and circumstances. Positive things people said to us about the move, encouraging signs and confirmations along the way. In other words, we kept our eyes and ears open to remain committed to our decision, despite many things not going accordingly to plan.
Just over a year later, we arrived in England. Our new home was a sweet cottage, called Red Berries. It was surrounded by fields of produce growing. We had rose bushes and fruit trees in our garden. The children made a den under a big old apple tree and spent their summer days playing in the comforting shade of the branches. My soul started to breathe again. We gradually made friends and established a sense of belonging.
Maybe for you today, friend, you are looking for the signs as well.
Whatever your circumstances and situation, there will be a way forward.
Sometimes it’s a bit blurry and feels unsure doesn’t it? And you worry about making the wrong decision.
The thing is – there is no such thing as the perfect choice, only to keep your eyes open for the cues that are before you.
Look for those signposts – because they will be there.
That single conversation may change your mind, your life.
We chose the arrow that led us to here.
One small gesture, one tiny book cover in our case, can indeed give us strength to do enormous things.