This month marks the 40th anniversary of the big move. In January 1974 my wife and I and our one-year-old son left our families and hometowns behind and moved three hours west to what seemed then to be the big city of Sioux City.
Though we were happy and comfortable in Webster City a series of events had left us in a difficult financial situation. I needed to find a job that paid more. I had moved a number of times as a child so even though I wasn’t anxious to move I was not troubled by the prospect. My wife, however, had always lived in Webster City and the prospect of leaving was very difficult for her. When I received an offer to sell advertising for a Sioux City radio station, my wife said she was willing to make the move on two conditions: (1) she would not cook Sunday dinners and (2) we were going to find a good church and get serious about our faith. I could live with the first condition and knew she was right about the second.
My job began on the first Monday of January but we had been unable to find housing in Sioux City during December. I left our Webster City home at 5 a.m. on that Monday anxious to begin my new adventure. A half hour later, however, my car broke down in Fort Dodge. I limped into a nearby service station and waited for the station to open at 6 a.m. By 8:30 or so I was on the road again, after calling my new boss to tell him I would be late for my first day on the job.
Later that day I checked into a cut-rate motel and began a lonely week alone. No phones in the rooms so I called my wife from a pay phone in the motel lobby. After settling into the room I went to turn on the black and white TV only to discover it was coin operated; something like 25-cents for two or three hours of viewing. I quickly discovered that the walls were paper thin as I could hear and understand a conversation taking place in an adjacent room. I was happy I wasn’t next to the bridal suite.
On Friday afternoon I anxiously headed back to Webster City for the weekend with the news that I had found a rental and we could move in the following weekend. After one more week of motel living my wife and son joined me in our new home. We had been married for less than five years at this point and with youthful enthusiasm we began to explore our new community which was more than ten times larger than our previous city. The next 14 years brought about many changes in our lives, including the addition of a daughter to our family. In those 14 years we ate out every Sunday noon unless we had company. We also found an excellent church that cared less about where we had been than where we were going. Our faith matured and we made many friends in that church.
Though it was a great learning experience, the sales job at the radio station was not what I anticipated. A friend told me about an opening at the Sioux City Journal and I got hired there and worked my way up to advertising manager. My boss at the Sioux City Journal was a great guy, but I never got along with the owner of the newspaper and knew that I would have to move on when my boss retired. When the right job opportunity came along in 1988 we found it even more difficult to leave Sioux City than it had been to leave our hometown.
Looking back over the past four decades I realize how many ways we were blessed for having taken the bold step of leaving home. Our faith matured and was emboldened. Our marriage was strengthened. Faced with having to negotiate life in a new community and making new friends my wife “came out of her shell” and blossomed into a strong, independent woman. And we made lifetime friends. In hindsight, I believe that God used financial difficulties to prompt us to make that move and that we benefitted richly from following His prompting. It’s like contemporary author Richelle Goodrich says: “Life is learning to take God’s hand… and hold on.”