Big changes this past weekend. I could have instead said “big celebrations this past weekend” but what catches me the most is what each event initiated or indicated.
We celebrated my brother’s high school graduation. I almost referred to him as my “kid-brother” but he really isn’t anymore. Ignoring that fact that he’s been taller and stronger than me since he was barely 13, this weekend began a new journey for him into adulthood, career, independent decisions and BILLS, OH THE BILLS. I am thrilled for him and excited to be nearby during this next phase.
We showered two dear cousins with gifts and prayers as they prepare to marry in July. These women will leave their lifelong home with their parents and step over a crazy new threshold of adventure—forget independent decisions as they learn how to live life as two-in-one. They also will have OH THE BILLS. But for me, marrying Jeff was my favorite and last solo decision and I pray they, even five years in (Happy Anniversary, love!), will be just as happy to have said goodbye to making decisions alone.
We also accepted an offer on our house. It has hit. We’re saying goodbye to our first real together home, preparing this space for a new family. We prayed that we would know who to say yes to and it was made clear. So excited for the story of the next woman to live here! But I will miss my big kitchen, the patio that finally has filled-in, gorgeous green ivy, and the landing in which both my little lovelies were born in the wee hours of July 23 (2012 & 2014).
I am exhausted from all the fun and challenged by all these changes. A little over a month ago, after making the final decision to step in faith to Indiana, a dear friend encouraged me to dwell on how I personally have changed since the last time I lived in Kokomo, to write it down, exploring where I may need to pursue sharing forgiveness and where I need to firmly root myself in truth before what could be an extremely trying season. Then this weekend, while drying dishes after a long day prepping for these parties, my dear Aunt Julie asked me, how have you changed during your time in Michigan? Do you think that time away was necessary?
Here are a couple simple, yet incredible, answers:
In the words of Jeff, I have become more myself. I am more comfortable with who I am and more aware of my true self. I am becoming comfortable with not being the best at anything but being capable of most anything. I am beginning to embrace that in most personality tests, I have even scores across the board and have a single strength in every category; I am ok with not being defined. I am not as ashamed of my 150 pound body, with its zebra stripes all along the mid-section and a bra size that has to be special ordered. I am artistic and creative yet ordered and particular (there is only ONE way to fold a towel, I tell you). I am nurturing and mothering but a bit hands-off. I can relax for hours upon hours but love the adrenaline rush of a stressful situation. I have been in the spiritual pits and the spiritual mountain tops, which has brought me to a love for the liturgical while in pursuit of Spirit-led ministry, influenced and grateful for an ecumenical experience and a smack-in-the-face relationship with grace.
Distance, and me becoming a mother, has brought much healing and mutual respect in my relationship with my Mom. It took me quite a long time to truly appreciate her; my younger years were too influenced by my own desires to see how much she loved and gave of herself. Perhaps that is just the journey of children, especially moms and daughters. Now, I watch Mom love on Raena and Reis and am so grateful. I very much fear living in the same house again, afraid that we will clash so often that we will lose what we found again in the last four years, but believe that we love and respect each other enough to work through those issues. I can more easily empathize and respect her opinion but don’t feel the need to always agree. At one point growing up, when things were tougher than normal on the farm, it was my goal to make Mom smile or laugh at least once a day; worst case scenario, I’ll initiate that plan once again.
Lastly, I have met failure. I have applied for jobs I really, really, really wanted, and didn’t get a second interview. I have been called into my boss’ office to be reprimanded. I made a mistake on an e-blast that required a formal and public apology. I have lost dear friends because I have been far too correct all the time. I tried to be that perfect “glowing” pregnant woman and instead spent 9 months x 2 on the couch, wishing for the due date to just be there when I woke up the next time to pee. I have yelled my guts out at my kid only to fall in tears at being the one kind of mom I swore I wouldn’t be. I have prayed, and worshipped, and prayed, and read scripture, and prayed some more, without feeling like God answered me although I had followed the perfect Christian formula. BECAUSE I AM HUMAN. I am realizing daily that I am not just called to believe in God but know that I need Him. That grace is important too, not just truth. That the grace He extends to me I am to extend to others. That life isn’t set by equations, formulas, and how-tos, but by relationships. Forgiveness is for me as well as for those who upset, hurt, or turn against me. That you can say something dumb and hurtful to your best friend and, through the power of grace, guess what! still be best friends. This is huge friends. It’s what so amazing about grace.
So yes, Aunt Julie, I needed to go away, but only because God called me away (Ephesians 1:18 | I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know THE HOPE to which he has called you [emphasis mine]). And so, so much has happened here, when I allowed myself to be aware of God’s presence, aware of and surrendering to the altering power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of Jesus Christ. Oh my word.
So, Zack, Sarah, Katherine, and the soon-to-be residents of 483 Graafschap Road, today I pray Ephesians 1:18 for you. May these changes ahead bring great changes in you. Know that changing is not losing who you are, but strengthening all of whom you are meant to be. Celebrate the hope you have ahead in opening up space for God’s powerful moves.