As I sit here at my keys, thinking about the last couple of posts I need to write for this 31 Days series, my fingers are silent. I promised to close out this month with a personal story about my journey of searching to belong. And even though I’ve tried to be transparent as I’ve written over the past 29 days, sitting down this morning to write my story has left me anxious and empty-headed. I’d so much rather just type out facts and quote others.
When I look back over some of the titles of my posts, pieces of my story are here, Is Green Acres the Place for Me and here, It Wasn’t Ever Going To Be My Home. But some details need to be filled in so that you see why my place of belonging was “misplaced.”
I’m just going to go back in my mind, and pick up a few memories, dropped like bread crumbs along the way…
The first “crumb” I’m going to pick up was dropped (like a bomb) ten years ago. I’m a little shocked that 10 years have come and gone. And a little more so because I’m just now finding my way. Have I really been lost all that time? No… not that long. I’m getting ahead of myself. When that first inkling of change hit me, I was still pretty grounded, and would remain so for a few more years.
But I should have been better prepared.
My husband had been through a traumatic season in his professional life. Two major unsuccessful career moves. A tornado that killed his partner and destroyed the business. Unemployment. Followed by several unsatisfactory jobs. You get the gist of it. Mid-life crisis on steroids. It was during this season of our life, that my husband’s brother died unexpectedly. Two weeks after the funeral, my husband was coming down the stairs in our home, as I was headed up with a full laundry basket in my arms. Funny how I remember even those details — the moment is forever stamped in my mind. My husband is a thinker, and keeps his thoughts to himself until he has them all worked out in a tidy little package. That neat, little, concise package is what he gave me that morning on the stairs when he said, “I think I’d like to take Jerry’s place on the farm.”
On. the. farm.
Jerry was a farmer.
My husband was an accountant. A certified public accountant. Had been for over 35 years.
You can see why it might have taken me a few minutes to catch up, and unwrap that package. What? Wait. What?
Those seem like appropriate responses, right?
However, even to my own surprise, my immediate response was, “Yes! I think you should — that’s what this season has been leading up to. Call today.” And if you dig into the archives of this blog, you will see that I’ve written before about this decision. I’m not sure why I responded that way. I think it was a God-thing. I am notorious for being slow in my decision-making skills. But I just knew instantly it was the right thing for him. And we’re a team.
If it was the right thing for him, God would make it the right thing for me.
Those words and thoughts would come back to haunt me many times over those 10 years.
But as mentioned before, my world didn’t change right away. We still had one child at home, and she was just about to begin her high school years. Jon made the decision to commute back and forth to the farm until she graduated. About 50 miles round-trip daily. Needless to say, I had one tired farmer during the labor-intensive days of planting and harvest.
Those four years are a bit of a blur, but I know I just went on with my life, doing what I’d always done at home, in church, at work. I blinked a few times, and in June of 2011, the house sold quickly, we packed up and moved, and our baby left for college.
I should have been better prepared.
We moved back to our hometown. Familiar and yet strange. Faces I almost recognized, but not quite. People picking me out, knowing me. They had the advantage – word travels fast in a small town.
The seasons of my life were making a paradigm shift, and I was fighting it for all I was worth. I can look back now and see that. I was fighting Jon. And I was fighting God. Not like openly and ugly. But inwardly. And ugly.
God was changing me. Not just moving me to a new city, new home, but moving me inside. I was changing from the inside out.
I just didn’t know it at the time.
All I knew was I wanted my old life back. (And yes, I may have walked through my rental house, and screamed that a few times.)
What if? What if I could magically go back to my city and my house…
But, can we go back?
What if? That nest was empty now. The life I knew there wasn’t there anymore. What if doesn’t exist…
That was an epiphany. The beginning of my surrender.
I think of others…
My sister-in-law, Jerry’s wife. She, too, had a big change in her life. Widowhood. Figuring out who she is without him. Are their people still her people?
My college freshman, away from home and trying to find where she belongs among all those other faces. With 4 daughters, we’ve had our share of heart-wrenching, emotional first-semester phone calls. All lonely, insecure, and pretty miserable…. because they haven’t yet found their tribe.
Another daughter, who, in her mid-thirties has become a mother for the first time this summer, not to just a biological baby girl, but also to a 4-year-old adopted son. Motherhood. Her world has turned a little chaotic. She isn’t quite sure who she is right now. The places and people of “life with kids” are new and different. Who are her people now?
My own mother, now living in an assisted living facility. A new place with new people. Has she yet claimed them as her own?
Paradigm shifts. Seasons of life. They happen to all of us.
Some seasons are easier to embrace than others.
But still… we should be better prepared.
Mothers…. Sisters…. Daughters… Do women fight these changes more than our men? Do our men feel the shift beneath their feet as we do? Do their worlds feel shaky and fragile? Do they fall apart — inwardly — as we do?
I acted my part. I did what was expected of me. But secretly, I held on tightly to what I thought should be. I journaled frequently to God, questioning the verse, “And we know that God works all things out for good…” Really? And I stubbornly thought, “I could think of a better way…”
And I couldn’t quite find my place. Or my people.
But thankfully, the last chapter hadn’t been written yet.
Please join me tomorrow for my final post in this series. God had a few bread crumbs of His own, and He kept dropping them along the way for me to find, and I can’t wait to tell you where they led me!
God is good. And kind. And faithful. And, oh so very patient.