Every January I choose a word for the year. I pray about it and really try to pick one I feel God is laying on my heart. This year I chose courage. I chose it with the intent to love Jesus more courageously and to be more courageous in my faith. In April we were presented with the possibility of a move. It took courage to make the decision to move across the country. It would have been much easier to stay put, in our dream house, surrounded by friends and family. But we felt God calling us into something bigger. Since we have moved, I have felt God calling me to stop living safely. I am usually not very outgoing when it comes to opening up and interacting with others. But He has been showing me there is not much to lose if I open up and talk about Him, so why not go for it? I’m also not as concerned with what people think of me, and as a hard-core people pleaser, that truly is a work of God!
As with anything, it’s a work in progress. I am learning many things through this process. A good friend of mine, who I am so thankful for, also recently moved. We have been pressing into these trials of moving. I want so badly to snap my fingers and be through the adjustment period. I want the relationships to be established and the sadness of all we left behind to disappear. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. My friend reminded me that we do have to grieve the loss of our old life and really feel it. But we can’t get stuck there. We both agree that focusing on the downsides and the hard things is completely unhelpful. And the people who live where you do don’t want to hear how unhappy you are there. We’re both struggling to find local friends. She has found it harder to find friends at this stage of life because a lot of people don’t have a felt need for new friends. You have to be very intentional to make those relationships. I have also found if people sense you aren’t going to live here forever, they are hesitant to invest any time with you. But having long-distance friends who check in regularly can help keep you afloat.
Being the newbie will give you a new perspective and empathy. I have been guilty of keeping my ‘friend circle’ pretty closed. Now I am on the other side and understand how that can feel. I know how it feels to be an outsider and not fit in. And while it can be painful, it is a good reminder I don’t need other’s approval. As much as I hate being new and not knowing anyone, I am thankful for the viewpoint it is giving me. It makes me want to be more hospitable and welcoming to others in similar situations. When I feel discouraged, I remember I am known and loved by Someone who will always be with me. And knowing I am loved unconditionally fills me with courage I could never have on my own.
Purpose. Everyone wants it. We all want to feel vital to something. For me, finding purpose has been a struggle, especially since having kids. I go through seasons where I have a clear picture of what my purpose in life is. And then, unexpectedly, I seem to be lost, driving without directions on the road of life. I often feel I should be doing more with my time, with my life. I feel guilty when I hear what other women are accomplishing with their time. Deep down, I know that guilt feeling is not from God. I know that comparing myself to others is wrong. Comparison is one of the easiest ways for the devil to get us to doubt ourselves and our purpose. Nonetheless, I look around and see someone who is a mom to more kids than I have. And works outside of the home, seems to do more for God. And appears to have it all together. She probably even keeps her house clean. And then there is me. Who seems to fall short in all those areas. Not long ago, I felt like I had purpose. I was part of a wonderful community. I had great people around me to do life with. Then we moved. And that caused my sense of purpose to be shaken. I know it was God’s plan for us to move. But it brings to surface all the feelings of being inadequate. When I struggle with these feelings, it helps for me to take a deeper look and compare “How I feel” with the “Truth”. It is a great exercise to remind myself how much God loves me and what he thinks of me.
Not long ago I was listening to Beyond Me by TobyMac and I had an epiphany.
Is it so crazy to believe/ That you gave me the stars put them out of my reach / Call me to waters a little to deep / Oh I’ve never been so aware of my need / You keep on making me see /It’s way beyond me
I know God has a plan in us moving across the country. I don’t know when, or if I’ll know all the parts of it. But here is what I do know: I am very aware that I need God and I can’t do life on my own. And that realization (which I really have always known but sometimes fill my life up so full and forget) is purpose enough for the move. Sometimes God needs to pull us away from all the things we have built up for ourselves and he needs to break us down so we remember that it’s way beyond us. Right now I feel like I’m in water a little too deep. But I am aware that someone is holding my head up. I hope there will be opportunities to point my arrows out in some way. And I would love to find a new group of people to do life with. But in this moment I can rest assured that my purpose, for now, is learning to be fully dependent on God.
Gardening has never been my thing. I don’t know a lot about it so I just stay away from it. It is outside of my wheel house and comfort zone. Ironically, when we moved into our new house, we inherited a lovely garden. The landscaping is beautiful. You can tell a lot of time and care was spent on it.
I immediately asked the realtors to find out if the previous owners had a gardener. I figured it would be cheaper to hire someone who knew what they were doing instead of letting the beautiful plants die. Unfortunately, the previous owner did all the work herself. Bummer! So, like I do with other tasks I don’t know how to handle, I ignored it. But eventually I knew I had to deal with the plants. I decided watering was a good starting point. And I had heard someone tell me that you should dead head the flowers. That was the extent of my knowledge. This time, however, I was determined to keep these plants alive. So I googled some info and watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to garden. As I began to care for the plants, I began to see similarities between gardening and cultivating a relationship with God. When I go too long without tending to the plants, it can seem like an overwhelming task to care for them. Just like when I go too long in between the time I spend with God. Sometimes I believe the lie, “I’ve gone this long not reading the Bible, what good would it do to start now?”. That is silly logic. Just like when I decided watering was a good place to start with the garden, often times just reading one chapter or spending 10 minutes with God is enough to change my thought process.
Additionally I have learned gardening requires constant work. I am never done with it. Caring for the plants is hard, time-consuming work. Just when I start to feel pleased with myself at all the work I’ve accomplished, there is something else that needs my attention. The same is true with my walk with God. I can’t spend just one day each week with Him and expect to grow. I need to constantly be tending to my spiritual walk. A lot of the plants in my yard are too heavy to stand up by themselves. They need support stakes next to them so they don’t fall over and break. We all need support in our lives to help us stand. I need encouragement from family and friends. I need accountability in my life. Without that support, I would have broken stems and be laying on the ground (sometimes literally). I also discovered using the right tools helps me perform the job better. Having a good pair of gloves and good shears are essential. Likewise, when I have a good devotional book or a good Bible study, it helps me stay committed to my quiet times.
I am by no means an expert gardener, but I am slowly learning about it. I love the quiet time it gives me, outdoors, to spend time with God and see how all of his creation need tender care. And it reminds me it’s a continual process. I need the reminder and encouragement to spend time with Him, even if it is only for a few minutes here and there. God doesn’t require me to be an expert. He just wants me to have a heart tender towards him, willing to learn and grow. I really hope my garden survives and thrives. But more importantly, I want my relationship with God to flourish because of the time spent with him.