I am a dreamer, and I am a writer, and I am also a sentimentalist. For pretty much as long as I can remember, I have struggled to be present. I constantly remember, and frequently look forward; I love to reminisce, I love to write stories about things to come, and I love to mope when I’m missing the past, and being impatient for the future.
There are seasons when this struggle takes over, and there are seasons when it fades very quietly into the background. It depends upon my contentment in the season. There have been only a few seasons that I have taken hold of the days and embraced the current moments with hunger and full attention. Too many of my days have been spent missing sweet breaths from the past, or spent longing for tomorrows.
Before moving to Colorado, there wasn’t a whole lot I missed about life in the past. But after my first summer there, everything changed. I was afraid nothing would ever compare. I was afraid I would never feel as close to Jesus again. I was afraid I’d never have community like that again. I was afraid I’d never have such a full season of learning again. I had no desire to go back to my life before that summer…and I was afraid I was going to have to. I was also afraid of moving forward—into the future—a future I had absolutely no plan for, or obligations in. I wanted to stay there forever. But time doesn’t stop, and I had no choice but to face real life.
BUT real life turned out to be better than even I could have dreamed (maybe because the Lord is a way better story writer than I am). He let me stay in Colorado for another year. Every single part of my life was new. Nothing from my old life, except clothing and books, moved to Colorado with me. Everything was fresh. I had a new home, new room, new people to live with, two new jobs, new church, new community, new roads to drive on, new-to-me car, new view…this list could get very long. I don’t want to be misunderstood here: though I didn’t want to return to the old, that doesn’t mean there weren’t good things about it. There were lots. I was just desperate for space to stretch out the wings I never even knew I had been given.
Often in the process of growing up, we try a few different costumes on, attempting to work out who we are, and frequently we end up wearing the one that the most people approve of. At least if you’re like me, you do what makes people happy, and that takes precedent over who you may actually have been created to be.
Or sometimes when you grow up around the same people, they come to expect you to be a certain way, and it’s not always the way you were created to be, and those expectations can be limiting. Sometimes you have to find space to be free to see the you that God created you to be. For me, that looked like moving far, far away. The Lord makes a way, wherever we are, to show us. Your space may look very different than mine. It may come in the form of illness; it may come in the form of a devastating betrayal; it may be deciding that you’re no longer going to swim downstream with everyone else. I don’t know. What I do know, is that The Lord is the only one who knows us completely, and there is no change we can make that matters apart from Him. We all have different stories that make up a tiny little piece of God’s great big one.
And part of mine was moving to Colorado for 14 months when I was 22 years old. And then part of it was returning to Ohio when I was 23. And now I’m 24, and I mope. I don’t cry like I use to about missing my homemade family and the mountains, but I cry because I see what I had, and now what I lack. It blinds me some days—some weeks—a lot of hours…And seeing what I lack takes my eyes completely away from today.
Last week I cried a bunch–out of sadness. But in the midst of it, I was also blessed a bunch. I spent all day two Saturdays ago at a soccer tournament, running from one kid’s game to another. I went to five total, and then one on Sunday, and one the following Thursday night. Thursday night, Miss Eeg was leaning against me, trying to stay warm as I rubbed her shoulder. She’s 10 now, but I started babysitting her and her three siblings about a week after she turned four. She was telling me about the players on Jake’s team, and then she decided she wanted to do trust falls, so I was catching her as she fell backwards. After about three of those, she sat on my feet, huddled with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. I glanced down at her a couple of times, overwhelmed with thanks that I wasn’t missing that moment. On Sunday, she, Keek and I were sitting on a blanket at another of Jake’s games with a few of Keek’s teammates, and they asked who I was. Eeg told them I was her honorary big sister. I had to turn my face away for a second, unable to hold myself together.
I feel honored. It’s not just that I’m getting to see Eeg and Keek and Jake and D grow up. It’s getting to know and be in relationships with people whom I love, but would not know had the Lord not moved me back here. It’s simply knowing Maddy and Audrey and Rachel, Abby and Milena, Shana and Brian and Tracy and Jerry…and others…and loving them and being loved by them.
Moments like Thursday and Sunday, make it easy to see what I do have, rather than what I lack. Lord, help me to always see what I do have—what You’ve given. And let me give thanks—let me offer it back to You. If I cling to it rather than let You have it, then it becomes an idol. Let me give thanks and then let go, letting You do Your will. In the moments—the seasons—that I struggle to be where I am, and I see only what I miss, or all that I want, give me Your eyes. Thank You, Jesus.