When people ask how I am these days I say “good” then then have nothing else to say. I truly have nothing else to say! Everything in my life is good, stable, consistent. I almost feel shallow because of it, but I like it. I’m happy. Thank you, God, for this time in my life.
– diary entry from a few months ago.
I arrived in Gainesville the evening of June 11. My car was full of personal belongings and my heart full of fear. Who would be my friend? I was so tired of making new friends, of sharing the same stories over and over again. I just wanted someone to already know that I don’t like coffee and need a lot of alone time. I was tired of starting over in life, of feeling like a stranger in a foreign land. All I wanted was a place to call home.
Moving to Gainesville was the scariest thing I’ve done in the last few years, and to my surprise it’s turned into my biggest blessing. I didn’t know I could be so happy – I didn’t know life could be so sweet.
I couldn’t have picked better roommates. We shared everything. Food was a free for all – there were no labeled shelves or items. People were always welcome to stay with us – even if all we had to offer was the floor. We cooked and ate meals together, sitting on our mismatched chairs around the kitchen table. We prayed for our husbands – we prophesied over the kind of men they will be. We talked to “Cindy” (the Internet connection we borrowed) like she was our friend. One night we danced silly to the hamster song, other nights we watched the sun set.
When I was having bad dreams Sydnee anointed my room with olive oil before I went to bed. After a particularly bad dream I woke Bethany up at 3 a.m. – she stood with me in the kitchen and listened, her eyes filling with tears.
We supported each other in every way. We believed the best about one another, being patient through each other’s flaws and annoyances. We cried together and rejoiced together. We loved each other fully.
And those were just my roommates. I’m surrounded by a community of people who live more or less the same way. Whatever need I have is always met by someone. If my car were to break down I could call any number of people and they’d be there in moments to pick me up. If ever I want to stop by the Lake House, I need only open the door. It’s always unlocked and I’m always welcome.
Gainesville became my home more than I ever thought it would be.
And so, when the time came for me to decide whether or not to leave it all behind for World Race squad leading, I wrestled. I’ve wanted to squad lead since November 2009, but I didn’t expect the opportunity to require such sacrifice. God and I have had many conversations about squad leading over the years – during December of 2010 I knew he was moving pieces around for me to do so this January. The plan seemed good to me that December, but after moving to Gainesville squad leading seemed less appealing because I had much to lose.
I went for a walk with God late in the summer and talked to him about everything. “I don’t want to leave this life! I finally feel like I belong somewhere and now you’re asking me to give it all up. What if I don’t get it back?”
He said to me, “I won’t give you back what you have now – I will give you even better. The best is yet to come – you’re just going to have to trust me on this one.”
I said, “Okay, fine.”
I kept walking. And then I saw this sign:
…I’m not even kidding. I stopped and stared and laughed out loud. And then I applied for squad leading.
A month later I was accepted, and since then I have felt a consistent peace that this is exactly what I’m supposed to do. But that peace doesn’t make leaving Gainesville any easier. The day after I committed to lead I drove home from work by myself. It was a warm, fall day – I rolled my windows down and turned up Mumford & Sons. And then I cried.
October 1: I’m incredibly sad to leave this life and all I have going for me. My biggest fear is to come back here and feel like a stranger without a home. I don’t want to start over – again. I want to feel like I belong here. But everything will change while I’m gone – this is a place of constant change. People come, people go. I guess I’m one of the people going – BUT I’M COMING BACK! I’m putting myself in a position to trust that God is good, that he will provide. Even though it’s scary it excites me to discover what he has in store. It only gets better, right? RIGHT.
October 4: I love every day. I feel like I belong. I don’t want to lose what I have…and yet. Squad leading feels more right than I thought it would – my spirit says YES. It knows this is good, this is right. So at least I have that.
October 6: Not much to say. Every day I’m happy to be here, sad to leave.
November 1: I don’t want to leave this life! I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t want to start over. And yet I know it’s right. I know God is good. I think I know what I want – God always knows better.
November 4: It hurts so much to let go – I grieve every day. But I’m sure next year I’ll look back and know how worth it letting go really was.
November 6: Always, always I’m happy to be here, sad to leave. But always I know it is the right thing to do – I won’t regret it. Instead, I’ll rejoice.
And so on and so forth my diary entries go.
Last night was my final night in Gainesville. I had a going away party at the Lake House – few times in life have I felt so loved, supported, accepted, understood. After everyone prayed for me I told them how terrified I was move to Gainesville because I didn’t think I’d have any friends. We all laughed.
The thing I was most scared to do became one of my biggest, most redemptive blessings in years.
And now, I’m scared again. I’m scared I just lost something I won’t get back and I’m scared to believe there’s something better…I just can’t dream that big.
Being scared is uncomfortable, yes – but it also makes me hopeful. Walking into the unknown puts me in a place where God has to come through. He just has to. And if what he says is true – “the best is yet to come” – then I might just pee my pants or pass out or something. Because
last night last season was pretty high up there.
Today starts a new season…
Hello again, Scary Unknown.