Happy Friday and Day… Oh wait. We’re not doing that 100 Days and Counting thing anymore!
(Sorry for the abrupt end for anyone who was following along. I was fully planning on writing a Day 240 post, but fell asleep early that night and didn’t remember until morning that I had neglected to blog. Oops.)
In any case, how do you start a ‘normal’ blog post again? No clue? Great. I’ll just dive in.
For those of you who don’t know, just under a year ago, I made the decision to move home to be with my family after living away for significant portions of ten years.
After moving across the country four times (generally to places where I knew virtually no one), you’d think that moving back home would be a piece of cake. Believe it or not though, this transition has been the hardest of my life so far, all thanks to one small word: identity.
For a large part of my life, I’ve struggled with identity – knowing who I really am. Growing up, I was always the ‘smart kid’, the ‘musical kid’, the ‘shy, weird, awkward kid’. And so, as a child, that’s who I was, because that’s who everyone knew me as and expected me to be.
I moved away from my hometown for the first time at eighteen to pursue my undergraduate degree at a nearby university. While it wasn’t exceptionally far from home, for the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to be someone new. Someone who wasn’t defined by everyone who ‘knew’ me. Someone who had nothing to prove. For once, I could simply be me.
It was incredibly freeing.
Over the next nine years, I fell in love with this freedom time and time again as my life transitioned from undergraduate, to graduate, to extern, and finally resident. More importantly though, with each new stage, I began to discover me.
If I’m honest, it felt like this discovery process culminated with my move to Houston. Living as a resident, across the country from virtually everyone I knew, surrounded by people who shared my passions I felt empowered. I felt seen. I felt… at home.
And then I moved back to the place that theoretically should feel more like home than any other place in the world, only to so often feel… out of place, trying endlessly to prove to the world, and myself, that who I am now isn’t the same shy, scared little girl that moved away ten years ago.
Admittedly, this week, the desire to prove myself, to ‘be someone’ has been worse than normal, as I prepare to go back to my high school for an alumni event this evening. If I’m honest, I’m terrified – terrified of walking the halls, seeing the faces, being asked the questions. I’m afraid that I’ll not measure up to some unknown standard of the people whose opinions, at the end of the day, shouldn’t matter.
As I wrestled with these thoughts and fears this morning during my quiet time, I painfully realized that this has always been the case. Here, I have always based my identity on who others say that I am, rather than who God says that I am. Here, I have always deferred to the opinions of those around me, living in hope of their admiration and fear of their rejection, rather than trusting the eternal, unconditional love of the Heavenly Father.
So often, in the last nine months, I have repeatedly questioned why I chose to move home. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love being with my family and being close to good friends, but daily confronting the mental and emotional ruts that I carved here for eighteen years has been painfully exhausting on the best of days. This morning though, I was reminded of a beautiful truth:
It’s easy to see change and growth when the rains come and the soil is good, but roots dive deep in the dry season, when the sun is hot and the ground is hard. The strength of a plant is shown by it’s ability to endure.
And so it is with us.
While it’s wonderful that it may be eas(ier) to trust God with my identity when I’m surrounded by people who I don’t feel pressure to ‘be someone’ around, I’m firmly convinced that that place is not His end goal for us. He calls us to go into all the world – not just where it’s easy to go. He calls us to trust Him and follow Him in all situations, through all storms.
And while sometimes that means crossing the country, crossing the world, sometimes it simply means coming home.