July 2017 marks the 5 year anniversary of our move to Dublin. Over the next few months I’m writing a few posts to share about that journey. You can keep up with all posts in this series here.
Earlier this week I wrote about my family’s immediate response to my “I think we are supposed to move to Ireland,” moment. The kids were angry and Liz was crying.
The kids I understood. There is no way we wanted to talk with them about it at that point. But they picked up that something was going on quickly.
And all three of them would have been in high school or middle school, so moving to another country was not anywhere on their agendas.
It was Liz’s response caught me by surprise. I assumed she’d be thrilled. Liz has always felt deeply connected to her Irish roots. The music, the history, the culture. Although we had never been before this, I knew how deep all things Ireland were in her blood.
When we first talked about getting married, I wrote her a letter explaining that, while I understand her love of other places (specifically Ireland), I have no desire to ever be a foreign missionary, so please don’t ever ask me.
And she didn’t.
Still, with how she had spoken about Ireland for years, and how important this trip was to her, I thought the idea of moving here would be positive.
So What Happened?
Well issue was really one of context. Liz’s dad was from the Republic, but grew up at times on both sides of the border. It wasn’t easy. Liz grew up hearing a lot of those stories.
As I’ve mentioned, this day in Belfast was our third consecutive day in Northern Ireland. So those stories were fresh in her mind.
Since she can explain it better than me, I asked her to share what happened:
When Bob said move to Ireland, my first thought was the North. The response wasn’t of personal issues with the people of the North, but more around, ‘what does it mean to be a true Christian in the context of the North.’ As someone who grew up with a Catholic, Nationalist background, but was now a Protestant minister with an English name—how would I navigate that personally or be in any position to minister well to anyone as I was only just coming to terms with it myself? Knowing as much of the history as I did but not familiar enough with today’s realities, knowing how deep identity runs in the North, and being an outsider. It seemed overwhelming.
Over the next few weeks as we talked, it became more and more clear that if a move was in our future it would be to the Republic. And while Liz still wasn’t rushing to pack her bags…she was intrigued.
Ending the Silence
So while Liz was now thinking about it, I was strategizing, and imagining what a move would look like. But each time one of the girls would scowl at me I was reminded that there was a long way to go.
My first thought was to pray…but, to pray that God would change their minds…and let them see how great it would be to live cross culturally.
That was the point when I sensed God saying a second thing about Ireland…”give the girls veto power.”
What I believed God was saying was basically to tell the girls that we’ll all take 6 months and pray. If at the end of 6 months any of you don’t believe God is saying we should move…we won’t…or at the very least, we’ll wait until you are all out of school before we reconsider.
That satisfied them, and they were all talking to me again.
But now I was upset. “This is a horrible idea.” “Of course they’re happy…they know all they have to do is wait 6 months say, ‘we don’t think we’re supposed to move.’ and that’s it.”
But, I figured if I can’t trust God can’t speak to my kids, why would I trust that this whole idea was from him.
The rest of our time in Ireland was good. I had time to think about Ireland when I was driving or jogging, but kept most of the conversations with God to myself. We took a few days to drive around the country and I looked at it as a scouting trip.
- Westport would be nice.
- I don’t think I want to live in Galway. (A return trip has drastically changed our view of Galway)
- Ohh. I could live in Cork.
- Swords is nice.
But I said nothing to the girls.
Leaving was so hard. I don’t thing I’ve ever had such a hard time leaving a place.
And since three people who didn’t want to leave Ithaca had veto power…I honestly didn’t have a lot of hope that I’d be getting back