“Where’s your bathroom? I’m sick and I shouldn’t even be here.”
This was how the man in charge of our moving crew greeted me when I answered the door. This was the person who made sure things were done properly. The boss.
I balanced my one-year old daughter on my hip and just pointed down the hall, not sure how to respond to this announcement.
I was handling this move on my own since George was away at a military school. By away, I mean across the street. I could see his building from our front yard, but we were not supposed to see him at all for most of the six months our family was at Fort Benning.
The packers got started while the boss man went to bed in his truck. I only saw him periodically when he came in to be sick in my bathroom. I was trying to keep track of the workers who were spread out in various rooms of the house while dealing with an active little girl amid the craziness.
The next day was no better. They showed up with a truck half packed with another family’s goods. While this is common practice, we told them not to do this in our case. We had moved enough to know our stuff took up most of the truck.
They started loading our shipment. It didn’t fit. Then they started putting things in the small truck that carries their boxes and other supplies. It still didn’t fit. Next thing we knew, random boxes were being put in the cars the workers had arrived in. The whole experience was a mess, but at that point it was what it was.
We arrived in Colorado and settled into the hotel. We were excited for our household goods to arrive so we could get things in order before George had to leave. He was due at another military class in Missouri in about a week.
Thanksgiving fell in the middle of our move and I was determined to cook for my family. We ate off paper plates standing around the small island in our empty kitchen. It was nice to be out of the hotel, so we were perfectly happy with our makeshift holiday.
In the middle of our festivities, the number for the transportation office on Fort Carson appeared on George’s phone screen. We exchanged a worried look as he answered the phone. A call on a holiday didn’t bode well.
The good news was our household goods had arrived on Fort Carson! The bad news was they found roaches coming from the other family’s boxes on our truck. Everything had to go through the process of chemical treatment to be sure they weren’t delivering roaches along with our things. This would take a few extra days. Fantastic.
Early the next week, we checked out of the hotel and were ready to set up our new home. As the Colorado based crew began to unload our belongings, they realized most of our boxes weren’t taped properly by the packers in Georgia, so the chemicals used to treat the roach issue were also on our personal items inside the boxes. This was especially concerning with our son’s allergy issues and our baby’s tendency to put everything in her mouth.
The moving company decided to provide extra workers so we could unpack each box in the garage and wipe everything down before moving it into the house. It was a complete unorganized mess because items were not packed in any sensible order. Kitchen things were coming out of the same box as bathroom and bedroom things. Everyone was working hard and making the best of a chaotic situation.
As that was being handled, we had another problem to deal with. Item after item was coming off the truck broken or damaged.
As each item came off the truck, the movers would call out a number and I would check it off the inventory list, making note of damaged items as we went. All was going smoothly when somebody announced the last box had been unloaded. I still had quite a lot of unchecked items on my list. We had no idea where the rest of our belongings were.
Throughout the next couple of weeks, our things trickled back to us as they surfaced in various locations around the country. When all was said and done, we were still missing twenty-seven boxes!
We began the very stressful and tedious process of filling out claim forms and handling repairs for damaged furniture. George was handling the paperwork and phone calls from his temporary home in Missouri.
I was busy unpacking. The weather had taken a turn on moving day so a lot of our boxes were stored in the garage until I could get to unpacking and wiping the chemicals off on my own.
Some days were more overwhelming than others. Sentimental things were missing or broke and the haphazard way things were thrown in boxes was plain disrespectful. I practically choked on my anger when I found my baby girl’s piggy bank with the bottom popped off and all her money gone.
Once all the boxes were empty, we could start listing the items that were missing. This was not an easy feat. It was hard to think of what was missing until we wanted to use it and it wasn’t there. Many items held sentimental value, but no real monetary value. We lost special mementos and photos from childhood. Many of the oddities and gifts we had accumulated at our various duty stations and travels were gone forever. Most of these things weren’t expensive, but they were irreplaceable.
We had a choice to make. We could sit in the anger and let bitterness take root. No one would blame us. Or we could choose to be grateful for what we had instead of being angry about what we had lost.
I toggled between my choices for a hot minute. I lamented to God that this wasn’t fair. He didn’t argue the point with me. I told him I had every right to be angry. He didn’t argue that either. I felt like he just let me do my thing and get it all out. After I prayed (or whined, whatever), I had this peace I can’t fully explain. I lost my gumption to stay angry. I was reminded that God promises to work all things for our good.
We were healthy and safe. The kids were making friends and so was I. Within a few months, George came home from Missouri. We had gotten through a year of a lot of time apart and a lot of changes and some loss, but we were somehow stronger and closer for it all. We fell in love with Colorado and enjoyed family time exploring the mountains and towns around us.
The things we lost didn’t matter in the bigger picture. They were only things. Our lives didn’t change dramatically with or without them.
When I come to the end of myself and hand over all my emotions and frustrations to him, everything changes. He empties me out of all the negative and fills me with his goodness and peace. My circumstances don’t always change, but my ability to see the blessings all around me brings a whole new light to my life.
I am so grateful for a God who lets me run the gamut of my emotions and then patiently wipes my tears and puts it all right. I love knowing I can trust him with all of my stuff, but especially with the important things that have nothing to do with material possessions.
Do not become angry or upset! It will only bring trouble for you.
But people who trust in the Lord for help will live safely in the land God has given them.
Psalm 37:8, 9b