Moving is hard. I would know—on average, I’ve moved every two years since I was born. And not just down the street. I’ve moved thousands of miles away in one go. And it is stressful. Finding housing, changing schools, even starting a new job can all be part of the stress of moving. And for us Mormons, making new friends and finding your place in a new ward can be stressful, too.
But let me let you in on a secret of mine. One of my favorite things about moving is that I love going to a new ward.
Though to be fair, I didn’t always love it. In fact, only in my past three or four moves have I discovered the secret to enjoying the still-sometimes-stressful changes involved in attending Church at a new building with new people: it’s all about looking for the opportunities.
Here are five reasons to love moving into a new ward.
1. We get the chance to start over. Moving to a new ward is like a fresh start; nobody knows us or our past mistakes. And because nobody knows us yet, it gives us the chance to define who we want to be. Then we can take the opportunity to really make a good effort towards being more Christ-like without being held back by our past.
So whenever I move, I remember how I want to be valiant. Then, I recommit myself to visiting teaching, I strive to magnify my callings better than ever before, and I show up to every activity I can make time for, offering to help when I’m able. I want to seize this opportunity to really dedicate myself to being better, and that progress feels great.
2. We get new learning opportunities. Every ward is just a little different, and so is every bishop, friend, and teacher. When we get the chance to attend church in a new ward with new people, there will always be opportunities for us to learn new things from the new people in our lives.
For example, in my most recent move, my new ward has placed a huge emphasis on “the small and simple things,” namely, reading scriptures and praying daily, attending church meetings, holding FHE weekly, and magnifying callings, including home and visiting teaching. I’d never thought of such a simple and doable list, and the emphasis on this list—unique to this new ward—has really helped me strengthen my gospel fundamentals.
3. We also get new service and teaching opportunities. When we're surrounded by new people, in addition to new opportunities for us to learn, we have new opportunities to share our experiences and talents with others. The Lord sends us where He needs us. As we keep our eyes open to the service opportunities we are uniquely suited for in this new ward, we'll be able to bless others (and ourselves). That will, coincidentally, also help us make friends and fit in. This is why renewing my dedication to visiting (or home) teaching when I move into a new ward is so important to me. I'm looking for how I can serve and who I can teach.
4. We strengthen our testimony of the restored gospel. Moving might mean a new house, new friends, and a new ward, but one thing won't change: the gospel. No matter where you go in the world, it will be there, exactly the same, a never-failing presence you can always rely on.
After moving so much, I can testify that the Lord’s church is unchanging. It's the same everywhere, from the humble service I attended in a courtyard in Paris to the burst-at-the-seams ward I go to now in Utah. There may be different customs and local variations, but the gospel is the same. Truth is eternal. And from living in so many different wards, I’m glad I can take comfort in knowing that the Church will always be there for me.
5. When we change, we grow. Like I said before, moving is a challenge. It’s often exhausting on a physical and emotional level. But without trials, we can’t grow because growing, by its very definition, is a change. And when we start attending a new ward, even though it’s hard, we stretch ourselves in new ways. We can try to be better as we take the opportunity to start fresh. We can look for opportunities to learn, teach, or serve. And we can strengthen our testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel through our experiences.
And it's those opportunities for progression that are why I love moving to a new ward.