Moving For Him
Not very many experiences at 5:30 in the morning have been good for me. I am not an early-morning person. But this particular early-morning adventure was exceptionally painful.
The sounds of my dad's truck faded away, replaced by the sound of heaving sobs coming out of my body. My parents were leaving. Going back to Arkansas. Going home. Leaving me 1,000 miles away.
It was my choice to move here. I've got a great job. I'm growing up, I tried to console myself on the walk back to my apartment, but no mental exercise would convince me that this move was for the best. After all, I didn't know a soul in Colorado. I'd only visited the state once to ski when I was 14 years old. Now, 10 years later, I'd "left the nest" in pursuit of my dreams. Today, those dreams felt like a nightmare.
I cried at the Colorado state line. I cried in a truck stop halfway through the 20-hour drive. I cried every night while my parents helped me unpack and settle. I repacked boxes as fast as my mom unpacked them. I cried so hard I couldn't sign my apartment lease. But, as my dad's truck pulled away, there were still tears left to cry.
Alone, I cried out to God, and admittedly, I believe He directed me to a verse in the Bible. Psalm 143:8: "Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You." That morning, I wrote these words in my journal:
God, Thank you for this verse the morning my family went home. I trust You and beg You to love on me extra hard during my loneliness.
Those words were truly comforting, and I was able to sleep soundly after I read them. But as soon as I awoke, the pity party started all over again. Any truths, even those coming directly from God, were pushed aside, allowing me to nurse my damaged emotions and stoke the hate and anger I felt about my move.
Looking back on those first days alone in my apartment, waiting to start my job, I remember a blur of tears, pain, regret and worry. I just knew I'd made the biggest mistake humanly possible and was doomed for life. I was determined to hate Colorado, my new job, anyone I met and anything that crossed my path. In my mind, it was logical that if I hated everything, then it would be easy to leave. I planned to move back to Arkansas in six months, anyway.
The hate lasted for months.
On the surface, I made friends. I laughed, smiled and told people that I knew the move to Colorado was God's plan. Behind closed doors, I cried and hurt. I begged my parents to come get me. I became addicted to TV. I grew numb from the pain. And, worst of all, I blamed God.
I wasn't standing out in a field, having a screaming match with the Creator of the Universe. No, I was much too subtle to attack God that way. In fact, I never really verbalized how angry I was at Him; instead, I acted like a spoiled, manipulative kid. I refused to talk to Him. I stopped trusting Him. And I just chalked Him up to a "meanie" who wanted me to hurt.
The problem with blaming God is that, often we're unhappy with Him when He's just giving us something we've asked for. At least that's what happened in my case. Years ago, I had given my life and heart to Jesus. I had entrusted Him with everything from my money to my future.
The Bible promises that "God shall supply all my needs" (Philippians 4:19), and I believed that. In fact, if you were to debate me, I'd go down fighting on the issue that every word of the Bible is true, both in accuracy and principle. But this move shook my faith, and if I was angry at God for moving me away from the people I loved, then I needed reasons to be angry. It seemed to me that I had a pretty good reason: He wasn't supplying my needs.
After all, I needed my parents within a few miles. I needed my former friends. I needed my adopted nephew. I needed to be around my grandfather who had brain cancer. It all added up. God wasn't giving me what I needed.
In March, my old social self fought to emerge from its cocoon, albeit painfully. I took a deep breath and signed up for a singles' retreat in the mountains. I was terrified, but I did it. During one of our small groups that weekend, one of the questions was a simple, yet heartfelt, "How are you?"
"I hate it here." The shocked faces of the people in my group proved that I'd said something unexpected. Everyone answers "Fine." Not me. I was sick of pretending.
I don't know if it was the emotion of admitting my true feelings or the looks on the faces of those around me, but I immediately burst into tears. Everyone did their best to comfort me, but still I wanted to go home.
The next day, I was calm enough to analyze what I was feeling. In a conversation with another person on the retreat, I was able to vocalize that admitting aloud my feelings about the move had really helped me to feel better about my situation. I'd also spent some quality time alone in the past 24 hours, during which I railed at God, told Him how I felt and finally listened. I'd walked away from that encounter realizing that God really was on my side, and that He was supplying for my needs. He had not failed me; I had just rejected Him. He had given me a wonderful job, a chance to change people's lives through my work, more friends than I'd had in Arkansas, people who loved me, a cell phone to keep up with my parents, multiple visits home and the chance to grow up on my own.
I understood that day, and I understand now the true meaning behind the phrase "growing pains." Becoming an adult is not something that happens on your 18th birthday. It's not ordering a drink without being carded. Not a trip to Europe with friends. It's being able to face life alone and succeed or at least that's what it's been for me.
I still cry about being away from home. I miss my family with a deep ache and longing. It still tears me apart to know that I'm missing moments with my grandpa, who won't be here forever. But I've come to grasp the good things about my new life. It helps that my family is proud of me and that they lovingly support the life goals I'm meeting by living and working in Colorado.
When the helplessness and hopelessness seem to return, I immediately try to change my perspective. I'm not avoiding, burying or escaping the issue, I'm just facing life as it comes. Would I have planned life like this? Probably not, but God did, and I am surrendered to Him. He's not some big monster waiting to ruin my life. He's given me a steady job in a shaky economy, wonderful friends to love me, mountains outside my window to remind me how huge He is every day, and a heart that's still beating even when it hurts. He is good to me. I thought I was simply following a moving van while driving to Colorado. What I didn't realize is, I was following God to a new life.
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