April 22, 2012

Why is it so difficult to leave?

This morning I read the weekly news roundup from a favorite website and clicked to read The New York Times article, “The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage.” It’s a good read, but oddly the article made me think about our upcoming move to Shenyang.

Our decision took over a year to make (probably about 18 months of self- torture reflection). At one point in the decision process we had a false start and turned down an offer to teach in Kunming. What were we thinking? Kunming has the best climate of any city in China. And the apartments were amazing. And huge! Our friends taught there. It’s the perfect situation, but we turned it down. Why?

First (and most importantly), the Father placed a deep conviction in my heart that Kunming was the wrong path. Second, consumer lock-in.

[Consumer] Lock-in is the decreased likelihood to search for, or change to, another option once an investment in something has been made. The greater the setup costs, the less likely we are to move to another, even better, situation, especially when faced with switching costs, or the time, money and effort it requires to make a change1

It is still difficult now as we prepare to leave Harbin, decision in hand. We've committed so much to this relationship that leaving is nearly impossible. We were locked-in because setup costs are high. Although some of these costs are the same we’ll face with a new organization, specifically #1-2, these costs for Harbin combined to decrease our likelihood of ever changing jobs.
  1. We left America to live in China.
  2. We sold our cars and stored other possessions in a sea container.
  3. We raised considerable annual support and have a firm base of annual givers.
  4. We increased our monthly givers year after year until now we are at a sustained level of monthly giving.
  5. Family and friends joined us in this vision for serving Chinese college students and new friends are catching this vision.
  6. We established a mailing list which would need to be transferred to another source when we change organizations.
  7. We built relationships with nationals throughout Harbin.
  8. We know Harbin: what to do and where to go to get what we need.
  9. We built a home here. It’s the only place our kids have lived.
  10. We taught English courses to university students and have a wealth of lesson plans and material for future classes.
  11. We know the university deans and officials and our kids have played together.
  12. Moving is hard. Boxes, shipping companies, and setting up a new apartment seem to require too much time, money, energy, and stress.
  13. We have to relearn everything (see #7-11).
To leave and follow the Father's future plans for our family requires faith. Loads of faith. I’m glad we are locked-in to the Father.

1Jay, M. (2012, April 14). The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/opinion/sunday/the-downside-of-cohabiting-before-marriage.html

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