This was a message I got to share to the students in the WinShape College Program at Berry College in Rome, GA where I am on college ministry staff. Our focus this year has been on “A Word Centered Life”. Here is my story on struggling to have one for the past year.
These are probably the two scariest words a 10-year-old girl can hear. (Maybe it’s three, depending on how you count contractions.) I knew it was something that had to happen. I knew it was good and right but everything about it felt bad and wrong. What about my school I had been in since K4? What about my church I had been going to since birth? What about my house I’d lived in as long as I could remember with grandparents and cousins just around the corner?
As I wrote the date today, November 11, 2015. It took me back to November 11, 2005, the day my family left the only life we had ever known and moved to start completely fresh in a completely new and a completely unfamiliar place. I was terrified, sad, afraid, and nervous. I remember the goodbyes that seemed like they would never end in the week that preceded. I remember that 4-hour car ride, holding my pet fish in its bowl in my lap. I remember bursting into tears once we got there and my Aunt Kristi was trying to help me get my room set up. I wasn’t ready for it to be real. I wasn’t ready to leave behind everything I had ever known.
I remember the first day of school. The emptiness of introducing myself and starting at square one after having just left my friends from birth. I remember the sweet teacher that sat by me in Sunday school when none of the other girls did. I remember crying and asking my parents if we could go back.
What I see now as I look back on that day 10 years ago is the beginning of a beautiful journey God had planned for my family. Apart from everything we ever knew, we grew closer to one another and so much closer to Him. I found a school with so many more opportunities and a church where I was invested in, discipled, and eventually called to ministry.
Though the season was painful, confusing, and at times really hard, 10 years later I couldn’t be more thankful because I know I would not be where I am or who I am if not for that transition.
Recently, a friend and I were shopping in a bookstore and stumbled across this quote. We took a photo of it because it was kind of like when you read something or hear a song and know that it resonates with you so deeply you can’t even completely process it in that moment.
“It must happen to us all.. We pack up what we’ve learned so far and leave the familiar behind. No fun, that shearing separation, but somewhere within, we must dimly know that saying goodbye to safety brings the only true security we’ll ever know.”
No, that separation is not fun at all. And I still feel it in a whole new transition.
This past week, I was probably the most sick I have been since moving away from home and embarking on this weird journey we call adulthood. And when I say sick I mean, couldn’t get out of bed or eat for 4 days, SICK. I called my mom in the parking lot of the doctor’s office and told her what the doctor said and held it together then cried. A lot. I didn’t have the energy to go buy groceries to be prepared to be in bed for days. I didn’t have the strength to carry them up to my room. I didn’t have the effort to do laundry, despite having no clean clothes. NO FUN. AT ALL.
But it led me to be so appreciative of the people around me that stepped in and cared for me. It initiated remembering and cherishing all of the times my mom cared for me so well when I was sick.
And I think that in the same way my family said, “We’re moving” and my world was rocked, sometimes God steps in and says, “I’m moving” and everything is completely shaken. He calls us higher and deeper and to new journeys, sometimes for the sake of what He’s calling us to and sometimes just to know Him more in the process.
And I am all too tempted to look at stories of God moving in scripture and have the 10 year perspective just like my family’s move. I dwell on the benefit of the transition and forget the painful struggle in the midst.
Like when Ruth had to adjust to a new life without her husband and move to a whole new place with Naomi. Like when Abraham had to leave his village. Like when Esther had to leave her family to live in the king’s palace. Like when Miriam had to put Moses in that basket. Like when Jonah had to board that ship to not Nineveh.
These transitions are painful and confusing. They make us question everything we’ve known.
“..but somewhere within, we must dimly know that saying goodbye to safety brings the only true security we’ll ever know
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”
The Lord has incredible journeys for you and I to embark upon. But often, the transition, the first step, the first time we have to choose to be brave is really really scary. But we were not given a spirit of fear. And when we do step into His plan, though scary at first, He is faithful to bring the only true security we’ll ever know.
So I am learning to let Him move. To lean into painful seasons of transition and know that He is faithful and the He works all things together for good. And amidst all of this I am learning to be brave and that really what that means is having faith that God can be God. Because when He moves, I want to go.