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When He Leads You to the Desert

The Ask…

About 2 years ago, things in my life seemed pretty stable — I had no idea that 6 months later, my whole world would be turned upside down. That God would very clearly ask me to leave all my comforts, all the known places and people, and head back to a place that held very few happy memories for me. 

It’s no secret if you’ve read some of my posts or had a conversation with me, that even though I was born and raised in Indiana, I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged here. It’s been more of a black sheep feeling whenever I’ve been in Indiana. The way I think, live my life, and the life paths I’ve taken don’t quite fit in with the viewpoints or life plans of most Hoosiers. Some of these have been my choice, others have been chosen for me. 

I’m a Christian, but tend to lean to the more progressive side. I’m most comfortable in a room full of diverse cultures. Instead of getting married and starting a family in my 20s, I lived in 4 different states and obtained 3 degrees while establishing and progressing my career. I’m 32 and have never owned a home, never been married, have no kids, and am obsessed with my dog.

Desert, When God calls

The place…

So when God made it clear He was calling me from Chicagoland, the place I had settled into as an adult — MY home and my comfort place. The place I didn’t feel like a black sheep. The place where it was ok I wasn’t married or didn’t have kids or didn’t own a home. The place where I felt I belonged. The place I had a church. The place I had a job with people who felt like family and the population I loved to work with. The place where it was normal to go grocery shopping and hear multiple different languages and I was constantly exposed to new cultures. He asked me to leave MY PLACE — and follow Him to the place He was asking. The place I never felt like I belonged. 

I wouldn’t say I went willingly, but I followed. I followed, because He asked and I trusted.

The Desert

When I got here I was full of hope. Full of ideas. Full of the thoughts and dreams that maybe, just maybe I wouldn’t feel the same as I did the first 22 years of my life.

Maybe, just maybe, I would find my place. 

A year and a half in, I haven’t found my place. I miss my friends. I miss my job and the family of co-workers (side note, I love my team, they truly are what keep me going in a high stress job). I miss hearing the different languages while shopping. I miss the people who loved me for me, not what I could give or do for them. I miss the church I was excited to go to. I miss the normal restaurants I would eat at.

I miss the feeling of home.

In the desert, God led me to a boy. And when we  met, we were both transitioning through a lot of change. The change looked different, but the heartache and processing were similar. The challenge to trust, despite the pain and quietness was familiar to both of us. 

I’m still here…

And a year and a half later, I’m still in the desert. Wandering, finding water wells just when I think I can’t go anymore. They come in all shapes and sizes and forms. Sometimes in the quiet whisper that reminds me God’s got this. Sometimes in the loud reminder of a song. Sometimes in the gentle nudge of the sunrise reminding me His mercies are new every morning. In the gentle cuddles of my sweet dog. In an encouraging text from a faithful friend.

And though I haven’t found the overflowing lake to fill up my dry reservoir, I’m trusting in the One who knows the way to that lake and will follow one step at a time.

Because when He asks I follow. And never, ever has He let me down before. It often takes time (ugh, time) to see what He is doing, but it always has been worth it. So I remind myself of His faithfulness in the past. In the aspects of not only my life, but others that have been completely changed because I followed when He called. I’m reminded of the amazing people I’ve collected along the way because of going where He’s called. I’m reminded of the incredible career path and how He’s taken me from being told I was too dumb to be a nurse, to being a nurse leader.

And when He brought me to the desert… I found Mercy and Healing

Have you ever listened to a song for months and then one day, the lyrics hit you? My word of the year has been mercy. Normally with my word of the year, I’m sick of the lessons God has been teaching me 6 months into the year. But in October I realized I was just beginning to grasp what God had been teaching me about mercy. It was like the small trickles of water He has been giving me throughout the year. And the other night with just a few days left in 2018, He hit me square in the face with the lyrics that have been on repeat, but I never truly heard.

My past embraced
My sin forgiven
I’m blameless in your sight
My history rewritten

Amanda Cook “Mercy”

And to be honest, I could keep writing, because of the sweet, sweet message I have been given, but that would make for one lengthy post. So until next time, remember, His mercies are truly new every morning, even when it doesn’t feel like it…

It’s Been — A Reflection

It’s been a little over a year since I moved back to Indiana. I spent 9 years away from my home state. 8/9 of those years were within a large metropolitan area. So moving back to a smaller metropolitan area, has been hard, to say the least. I never quite felt like I belonged in the place I grew up, and I can’t say that it has changed as I’ve gotten older. In fact, I would say I feel even further removed from the place that I was born and raised now that I’m back here.

It’s been interesting to process through my first 22 years of life in Indiana, and then my life after Indiana. There isn’t anything wrong with Indiana, it just doesn’t quite fit who I am or the way my life has gone. It’s a really hard thing to admit that you don’t feel like you belong in the very place where you had so many of your formative years. But it is also a very freeing feeling to acknowledge that I’m different, and that’s ok.

It’s been interesting to watch how the majority of people around me in Indiana, followed the “Indiana dream”. They got married fairly young, had children short thereafter, now have a house, and their children are in or are starting school. Meanwhile, I’ve been developing my career, am just starting to head down the path toward marriage, have no kids, and still live in a rental. The last year the question I’ve been asking myself has been “what’s wrong with me that I haven’t had the normal life progression of people in Indiana?” So much of this also ties back to being an enneagram 2. As a 2, I have trouble feeling like I belong, but have this deep need to feel like I belong.

It’s been quite the process to realize {yet again} that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. My life just looks different. It’s not that I don’t want to get married or that I don’t want children, quite the opposite, I want it very much; it’s just on a different time table (at least I hope). I didn’t plan on my career being my priority, it just happened that way. But I also know, that if I had had kids younger, I probably wouldn’t have developed my career like I have. I may have never found my calling as an oncology nurse, which would have been heartbreaking. I also never would have gotten to live in so many different places, meet so many incredible people, have amazing experiences, and heal in ways I could have never healed living in Indiana.

It’s been eye opening to go back to Chicagoland. This past weekend I spent up there and I realized, it still feels like home. I also realized little things that I never appreciated while I was there, like that there are side walks and walkways everywhere. There are also things that I knew I would miss like the incredible food scene, the amazing friends who became family, and the diversity that is everywhere. Chicagoland makes me happy, and it’s funny because I went there not too excited thinking it could never live up to my time in New Jersey, but left kicking and screaming. Turns out, I liked it just as much as New Jersey and it developed me in new ways that New Jersey hadn’t been able to. In both places, I was able to find a place where I was accepted even when my type 2 the giver couldn’t give. I found people who didn’t care that I wasn’t married or that I didn’t have kids. I found people who loved me as I was, not for what I could give them.

It’s been a year of processing and learning since I’ve been back. A year of accepting that I finally landed back in Indiana, and though I planned to settle here, I’m not quite sure I will. I’m not quite sure what the future looks like. But when I landed back in Indiana, I found an Indiana boy, who grew up feeling much the same way as I did. However, this Indiana boy has never lived anywhere else. So now the question remains “should we stay or should we go?” I’m not sure when we’ll get the answer, but I’m finally at peace knowing it’s ok that I never felt I belonged here, because I found my place of belonging. I found that there are people and there are cultures where I feel at home and love me for me. Indiana, thank you for raising me, New Jersey thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone and giving me the feeling of home the second I hit your state for the first time, Chicagoland thank you for helping me become who I am today and giving me the place and space to be who I really I am.

It’s been a year of facing my past and walking through things that happened in the past that needed healing. I’ve been facing my pride, which ties back to being a 2. It’s hard for us 2s to not admit we don’t have it all together. Or that sometimes, when we give, we give too much and that can ruin things. Sometimes as a 2, I’ve given so much and received nothing in return which causes me to break and run the other direction. I don’t think my feeling of not belong in Indiana is solely tied to being an enneagram 2. But I do know that facing the core of who I am and my past, is allowing me to resolve what is on me and what is just because it is.

It’s been hard to stare straight into things I was able to leave when I left Indiana. Things that shaped me and formed me. Not all of it was bad, but parts of it have been very painful to face. Without the healing and accepting I found in the other places I lived, I could have never come back to look the things of my past straight in the face. Mercy is my word of the year, and even in September, I’m still grasping what this word means. I think it’s so hard for me to understand mercy, because as a 2 it goes against everything that drives me. As a 2, it’s ingrained in me that I have to earn love. But the truth is, I don’t have to earn the love of my Heavenly Father, it’s there for me no matter what. And no matter how much I do, He’ll love me, just the same — just as I am.

It’s been. Now it’s time to step into what it’s going to be one step at a time. One healing at a time. Accepting and loving myself just as I am, while facing the things I need to change to continue to improve myself. Most importantly excepting the love that is offered to me without any strings attached from up above. Secondly, allowing those to love me even when I have nothing left to give them.

It’s been, so what’s next?

 

Community is Good for the Soul

Friday night was one of those nights I sat there in awe wondering, “how can I be so blessed?” Like many people my age, I don’t have family closer than 3.5 hours away and am not married. That means that my life could be pretty lonely. It means that I could feel like I have no one to call in an emergency. But as I sat in my home Friday night and looked around, I was overwhelmed with the very fact that my friends are my family here in Chicagoland. That at any point if crisis or need I could call on a number of them and I know they would be there.

Small Group From Church
My church Small Group’s Halloween party

In today’s society we want everything instant and we often shy away from deep. Deep means you risk the chance of getting hurt. Deep means that people won’t always see that perfect selfie, but rather people may see the tear-stained face that comes after a pretty tough couple of weeks. Deep means that your answer to the question “How are you?” isn’t always, “I’m good.” Rather at times, you can look at someone and honestly say, “you know, it kind of sucks at this moment.” Continue reading “Community is Good for the Soul”

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same…

“Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”  That was one of my favorite AIM away statuses during college and it still seems to resonate today throughout many phases of life. We all know the song from The Fray “All At Once”. And I am yet again at a point in my life those lyrics are resonating deep. 

I walk my dog on an almost daily basis and we keep our path pretty much the same. It is nothing exciting but there is one spot in particular that always gets me thinking. It is this area between houses that seems to go on forever with power lines in it (see below). It is also the place my dog often chooses to stop and do her business, so I have even extra time to contemplate. Sometimes it is illuminated by an amazing sunset or by clouds rolling in for a storm. I’m from Indiana; there is something about flat fields and nature that will always bring soothing to my soul.

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Lately though, this scene I pass every day resembles how I feel deep within my soul. It is that time in life where I have decisions to make. Nothing is super bad, in fact I like my life, but I still know deep within my soul that there are decisions that need made. That this state of comfort won’t last forever and that I need to make some decisions to help me get where I want to be long term. Right now my life looking forward feels like this empty field. I know my friends and family will be there with me traveling along, but I have absolutely no idea what else is going to happen. 

In small group we have been talking about love languages and something called holy discontent. For the spiritual person holy discontent is the thing you feel God put you on this earth to do…. The thing that gets your blood pumping and gets you up off your seat… the thing you absolutely cannot stand that is going on in the world. For others it is exactly the same thing, but the sense of what the “universe” has placed for the person to achieve.

I recently took a test which helped me figure out what mine are and to people who know me, it is no surprise. The two primary things that get me off my seat are grieving people and community. I absolutely cannot handle when community does not exist and do everything in my power to make it happen. And grieving people make my heart ache.

So why do I bring this up when I’m talking about The Fray, a field, and how there really isn’t anything bad in my life right now? It is because I know deep in my soul that there are changes I need to make to truly start to completely live out who I am and how I am designed. I know that even though things are good right now, I have to make the hard decision to start to make things the best they can be. And that’s hard. Because after all, who truly wants to leave a good and comfortable spot?

But I know without a doubt, I need to. Something harder, but even better, is waiting for me. 



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