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Saying good-bye to your church family is something not all of you will have to do, but since many of you will be doing it during the downsizing process, I’m mentioning it here. Often, your children live in the same town and it is simply a matter of moving to a smaller place in the same town even though you have to move out of the home where you raised your family and have many happy memories. Oh yes, and have to get rid of a lot of your things as we discussed earlier in this series.
Often, downsizing means moving to a new town near some of your children, This means changing churches.
But frequently, when you downsize, you also have to move away from the town where you have lived for many years to be near some of your children. That necessitates moving away from your home church. This is a place where you may have invested many years of your life in active involvement and made some very close friendships. Moving away is very painful. Not only that, but the thought of starting over again at a new church is also difficult because you can’t imagine that kind of closeness in a new church. In fact, it is unlikely you will have that kind of closeness right away. It doesn’t happen instantly.
Part of getting involved in a new town is finding a church where you enjoy a Sunday School (or its equivalent) and church service that is compatible to you and your preferences. This may or may not coincide with where your children attend. The other part of getting more involved is becoming part of a small group either as a couple or as individuals in separate Bible studies for men/women. That will plug you into the church rather quickly and help you get to know people rather fast.
If you get into a small group, choose one with mixed ages. You will enjoy the variety of it more as you get to know families of different ages. throughout the church. In some churches, the small groups are set up according to the ways people like to serve, so that may be something you will find helpful. Just make sure you don’t get over-committed too fast. You don’t want to start your retirement years over-committed to church work before you have had a chance to get to know your community or even enjoy the fact that you are retired and able to travel a bit.
Get involved while you are still healthy. Get to know people at the church while you can still serve them.
Hopefully, you are both healthy still at this point. It is wise to get involved in a church now while you are relatively healthy. You have no idea when that status will change and you don’t want to be stranded with no church and no support system in place. If you have gotten involved in a church, those with whom you have been involved already will know you and you may have already worked on some projects together so that if one of you gets sick, you have friends to help you out and don’t feel you are among strangers. You will already have people you have prayed with and cared for.
As time passes, if one or both of you becomes ill or homebound, you will have gotten to know friends in your new area from your church and community who know you and can minster to you in time of need.
As time goes on, if one of you becomes ill and is homebound, you will have made friends with people who can encourage you in person and by phone even after you are unable to attend church. We aren’t at that point yet. But down the road away, I can see that could happen. We have lived here 10 years this month. Ron had his first stroke 8 years ago and was disabled quite a bit but the vascular dementia didn’t really hit until after the 2nd or 3rd stroke (I can’t remember which). He is still able to get around though and function pretty well thanks to my daughter’s help and occasional updates from our physical therapist.
My husband is extremely independent. That helps. He is not passive. I don’t do anything for him that he can do for himself. (I learned that from working in rehab.) I just know when to keep my eyes peeled on him to be sure he is safe. But sometimes, he falls. It is part of the story. I do all I can to prevent falls, but I can’t prevent them all. We are thankful for the local friends we have made here. They have been very encouraging, both to me personally and to Ron. They are also encouraging to him as well.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:23-25 ESV