Saturday, July 25, 2015

The last two times I moved cross country, I moved to the soundtrack of "Follow Love" by FFH.

"I'm gonna miss the simple town full of memories
I'm gonna miss just hanging out with all my friends
The rainy days and summer nights
Skipping stones by the river side
But i know.. its time to go"

The lyrics speak of beautiful memories of a beautiful place alongside the knowledge that all good things must give way to the new.  This used to describe my life so well - with every move I made I discovered new life and new adventures and my life was filled with a good deal of fearless optimism.  

I loved Bellingham, WA, but I left with that same optimism - an optimism born of the wonderful experiences I had had my whole adolescence and early adulthood of steps toward independence that had defined me so sharply against the background of an idyllic upbringing.  I was the farm girl turned nomad - someone with a deep sense of home and belonging who had learned to live in the big world outside her farming community, and who had found a new sense of home in a new place.  

I would do it again.

And then I arrived in coastal Georgia for a new job.  For the first year, I loved my job, and I loved my friends, and that made my distaste for the weather and the culture tolerable.  I met a guy who I came to love, we got married.

The crazy thing is, the last two years have been hell.  My optimism has been stripped from me.  I find myself on the verge of being more alone than I have ever been, with all of my carefully built friendships becoming long distance with my friends' moving away.  My life is stressful and plagued by severe difficulties with family relationships.  My husband has been deployed most of the first year of our marriage and I struggle to survive emotionally in the face of long deployments with little communication.  My faith faltered in the past year and I made the difficult decision to leave my church to try to find God again.  I'm still living in the aftermath of that heart-breaking decision.  

My husband and I are moving at the end of this year to the Northeast.  Yet again, I am stepping into a complete unknown and a foreign culture and place.  This time, there is no cheery soundtrack and there is little nostalgia for a place that sometimes feels like it has stolen my joy and left me with loneliness, bitterness, and distrust instead.  

What do you do when life is so dark as to leave you with no cheery narrative with which to paint your life as one of constant progress, as a life with moderate challenges faced in wise and timely ways that result in personal growth and better the people around you?  What do you do when there seems to be no happy ending in sight, when you're not sure that moving is going to fix anything at all, when that narrative of positive thinking has become one of uncertainty and chaos?  My life is a broken mess right now, and there is seemingly no redemption.

I am reminded of one of my favorite Gungor songs, "Beautiful Things."  

"All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You."

Maybe the craziest thing is I don't see a whole lot of evidence of that hope springing up.  All I see right now is chaos.  And that's I guess where the faith comes in, trusting that all this chaos will make way for life and light one day.  Right now I don't see it.  Right now I see a place that has stolen my joy, made me paranoid and stressed and angry.  I see a place that has been a dead end for my career, a place that has too many biting insects in the summer, and no mountains.  

But maybe it's time to start looking for the hope springing up.  

Maybe it's time to be thankful for the blessings (and they are many) that have come from this place.  I have made several very close friends, I have married the love of my life.  These things have been plagued with hardship and pain, but good things in life will not always be free or easy.  Beautiful things sometimes come from scars, from pain, and from the death of dreams.  

I will hold onto hope that although this life is not what I expected or hoped, it will be far more than I could imagine.