Building a RAFT
Wheels’ up is six weeks from today. While we’re flying out of The Bahamas, I’m more focused on building a RAFT with the kids, in preparation for the move.
“Building a RAFT” is a tool developed by TCK pioneer and sociologist David Pollack. I first came across this idea about two decades ago in the book Raising Resilient MKs (<– free e- version!), and have been implementing this technique in the seven moves since! The “logs” of this raft are Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells, and Transition/Think Destination.
Sidenote: When I started writing this, I thought I’d give a brief overview of each of the of these aspects in one blog post. Haha! Of course, writing brings to the surface much of what I’ve been pondering and so today I’m going to just focus on Reconciliation.
In the Eighties, my family moved from the tropical, Mayberry-like base of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the busy (and cold!) suburbs of Chicago. In the midst of my junior high emotions and junior high struggles, I remember my mom admonishing me that there are no “location cures.” Ouch.
My mom knew me, and knew that in typical military kid fashion I had begun to view moves as a solution to problems. She shared her wisdom that when we move, we bring our struggles with us.
The R in RAFT stands for Reconciliation. I apply this in two ways — making sure I seek to make right any disrupted relationships, and looking inward to see what within myself is upset and and needs reconciling.
As I type this, I feel a tightening in my chest and a local friend comes to mind. This is someone I care about, and I wish I could deny the relationship was disrupted. But when I am honest with myself, I know that I have not been the friend to her I want to be, and that I’ve prematurely retreated from the relationship. We have no big conflict which needs to be addressed, but I do need to reconcile before we leave. I know that if I don’t attend to this now, it will be something that will continue to burden me when we move. And I do care about her! I don’t want to leave her with any unresolved stress either. Moving brings an opportunity to consider how, so far as it depends on me, be at peace with all. (Rom 12:18)
Similarly, I’ve talked with my teenagers — what can they do to leave on the best of terms with their friends? Are there any people to whom they need to apologize–or forgive? What problems do they expect to change when we move? My teens are pretty self-aware and know there are no “location cures” — but it’s easy to have that idea infiltrate our subconscious.
A Clean Slate
One of the perks of moving is being able to implement in a grand way what Gretchen Rubin calls the Clean Slate strategy. Yes, I do get a fresh start when we move. I can design a new routine, new habits, a new me! — the possibilities feel endless!
But as my Mom tried to counsel me in junior high, a clean slate is not a “location cure.” I bring my own self wherever I go. My internal struggles come along me.
Moving often brings to the surface unresolved internal conflicts. I see my own weaknesses writ large, under the logistical pressures of the move. Unexpected emotions surface.
My hopes for a fresh start when we arrived, feel unfulfilled by the reality of how my days have unfolded in this place.
I’ve found it is important to give time and space during the moving prep, to allow reflection. I take this as time of reflection to see what God has done in my life, as we’ve lived in this place. My struggles, my growth; the stresses, God’s faithfulness. When I actually do this and bring these internal conflicts to the Lord, He brings reconciliation to my soul.
My friend Karen Campbell used to start each of her podcasts with the reminder of the promise that is true not just for when we move, but for every day:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.