Last month marked my fifth move in New York City, and I’ve only lived here for a little more than three years. Moving is never a fun experience, but moving apartments in NYC is enough to make one run away and give up everything to live in a hut on the beach.
In New York City, apartments come and go every day—usually your best bet for finding one is a mere two weeks out. You can’t really plan, and you don’t have a lot of control over your options.
I felt sick with the stress of finding my latest place, affording movers, and coordinating the whole moving process. Moving is one of those things that makes me truly anxious.
I had been checking apartment listings every hour of every day. I was so afraid that I would miss something great and regret it later. My counselor suggested I take a step back. She reminded me that I was not going to be homeless. The Lord abundantly provided during all of my moves, and He was clearly working. My family would have a place for me should I need it, and I had plenty of community around me to support me in the process, too.
After talking to her, I set up filters and email notifications on a few apartment rental websites. Then I stopped checking and let the websites do the work for me.
Just as soon as I quit freaking out, my roommate (not me!) received an email listing for a great spot. She and I saw the place the first day it went on the market. That day was the same day the rental company lower the rent to be within our budget and removed the broker fee. My roomie and I applied that day, and the apartment was ours within forty-eight hours.
If that's not a God thing, I don't know what is.
The situation was yet another that showed me the value in letting go. Loosening up, relaxing the grip on my life, and giving God the space to enter in.
Try as we may, sometimes we just have to let go a little. Moving so often, and under such tenuous city circumstances, taught me to let go of my need to control everything, but in a broader sense it taught me to let go of other things in life that weren’t necessary. Moving has been a grand adventure in learning to simplify my life and let go of the rest.
Here’s the thing: We live in a world full of stuff. It’s tempting to want more and more. During my latest move, my roommate and I discovered we had three SodaStreams. Three! And our new apartment is a sixth-floor walkup. Without closets.
Moving so often really forced me to think about my approach to life. When something suddenly becomes an extra five pounds that must be boxed, carried up six-plus flights of stairs, and stowed in a 900-square-foot space, you really start to examine what it adds to your life.
So I have to ask myself: “Can I find pleasure in a simple glass of tap water and avoid the clunky, costly presence of a 21st-century bubble infuser?”
Yes. Yes, I can.
It’s a lesson in moving, but it’s a lesson in life just the same.
Quality over quantity—that simple lesson has helped me redefine my life overall. I don’t have time to go to every event or see every friend, colleague, or former classmate who comes into town. I make time for the friends who also make time for me—the people I know will bring me life by being around them. When I’m seeing fewer people overall, I allow the relationships I do have to grow stronger, and our time together becomes that much higher quality.
Even more than quality over quantity, I'm learning what true quality really is. True quality means faith and provisions from God. You can't buy that kind of quality. I'm starting to understand why Jesus told us not store up for myself treasures on earth. Earthly treasures are just things. Just things. They are replaceable. As fun or as pretty as they might be, they don't add to my existence.
Moving to an apartment without closets revealed all the junk I'd been storing up—not just in my closet (and under my bed and in random drawers) but in my heart. It's so easy to store things away, never really addressing them until they're forced to the surface. If I can hide it under the bed, then it doesn't really exist.
Let me tell you: Cleaning out the closet is good.
Clear out the junk. Organize the mess. Put everything on display and bring it into the light.
Your heart—and your apartment—will be happier when you do.
Oh, and those moving woes I had? Definitely #firstworldproblems. I live and work in the most expensive city in the country. I’m grateful to be able to make a living here in the Big Apple. These moves have shown me that I don’t need to control and plan out everything in my life. For a planner like me, it’s hard to come to grips with the fact that I can’t look for an apartment until the month before I need to move. But there’s such value in being able to let go and trust that everything will work out. It might not look the way you envisioned in your head, but it will work out according to His greater plan. This I know to be true.
Even when I think I’m not going to land an apartment, or not be able to afford moving fees, or not be able to find a roommate, I am pleasantly surprised with ample provision. When I think I can’t get rid of something because someday I’ll want it, I always find that isn’t the case. I’m happy to be free of it, and I can focus more on the things I have that I love. Being intentional about my approach to life and things makes me that much more thankful for it all.
Home is where the heart is. My apartment is my oasis. I rely on good food, good friends, and good music filling the space to make it feel like home. Lots of decorations and knickknacks no longer have a place in my space. They take up room, they’re hard to pack and move, and they ultimately end up collecting dust. Buying fresh flowers on the street after work or picking up a candle from the sale section at Marshalls are two indulgences that make my apartment cozy and comfortable. The rest of my focus is on the peace of my home and love of those I have in it.
I would never have chosen to move five times in the past three and a half years, but looking back on it, I’m grateful for the changes. I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff and to give up the things I don’t truly need. To let go of control and surrender to Him. Now I understand that at the end of the day, possessions aren’t what makes a house a home. People, experiences, and the presence of God are. My life is so much fuller because of it.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.