Okay, I’m being a tad dramatic.
But can we just stop and acknowledge for a second the unsettling discomfort of moving from one place to another? The time has not come to say your goodbyes, because you are still living every day life in the present place — grocery shopping, writing emails, heating up your lunch in the staff kitchen. But your mind is also trying to plan the next steps — where you’ll live, how it will feel to walk into church that first Sunday back, whether or not you should even attempt to take home all of the pottery you’ve acquired. I’m here and I’m there and I am just not good at doing the splits.
Let me tell you something that may come as a surprise, considering I am 32. This is the first time I am making a conscious choice to leave somewhere. Okay, yes, Keane and I decided to leave Chicago three years ago, but we did so knowing that we would probably return. Before this, I have never really been part of the decision-making process to uproot, transplant, regrow. Now here I am, willingly subjecting myself to that temptress, that backstabber: change.
It won’t surprise some of you to hear that I have been waaaaaaay over-preparing for this transition. I’ve been mentally keeping track of all the ways this could be difficult, and all the ways that my friends back home have changed or moved on, and all the ways I will feel culture shock, etcetera. I snuffed out my own excitement about moving back home weeks ago.
Then, this past week, God spoke to me through at least three different people. One friend told me boldly and wisely that I needed to start finding things to look forward to, not just dread. The hard things will happen, and I can’t put a stop to them, but I can allow myself to anticipate and then savor the sweet things that are coming our way. Then Keane and I attended repatriation (meaning: moving back to the motherland) training, and the greatest gift of that time was in being reminded that reentry to the States is not an illness to be gotten over as quickly as possible. It’s a part of a journey in which God is working in my life and my family’s life, and we need to be experiencing that, not rushing through it. And finally one of my most matter-of-fact, practical (dare I say “Iowa strong”?) friends told me to shut the heck up about being worried about certain parts of moving back, because it was utter nonsense and I needed to cut the crap. (Okay, you didn’t say it that way. But that’s how I heard it and how I needed to hear it and I love you.)
So here I am, living in the in-between, willingly, with hands that are slowly opening, releasing the fear and my tendency to prepare for the worst, and receiving the lovely, life-giving words of dear people whose capacity for wisdom and hope are greater than my own.