I went back to my school about a week ago. I had crammed everything from the past four years that wouldn’t fit into two suitcases in a 5x5x5 storage unit a town over. Five months later, I finally found time to pick it up.
Although the brief visit was lovely, and seeing places and friends that are so very dear was a delight, there was a considerable amount of collateral emotion that I need to sort through; in short, the basic melodrama of change, starting over, and saying goodbye. I am bad at these things. I always have been.
I guess it’s important to provide y’all with some context. I graduated this May and moved back home, without a job or, seemingly, purpose. As much as I love my family and the town where I live, I was afraid to tackle the new dynamics returning to my childhood home would inevitably bring, loneliness, and the feeling that I would spiritually suffocate in a place not so overwhelmingly Christian-friendly as the South.
After spending a summer back at the camp I so love, blitzing out my resume to corporations around my school, applying to jobs on campus, and sort of spilling my angst about the future onto anyone who would listen, I found myself still in New Hampshire. My tail was firmly between my legs, and I was ashamed and frustrated that to seemingly hundreds of companies, that I wasn’t “enough” or worth hiring. I repeatedly thought about how awful it would be to tell people that no, I wouldn’t be living in Charlotte like I planned; how others would undoubtedly be disappointed in my lack of “success,” and that I would live out my days as some sort of washed-up townie, perpetually wistful and dissapointed.
I was being self-centered and silly, and was selling those who loved me short.
God in His goodness provided. I had the absolute joy of spending a few extra weeks at camp during conference season, during which I got to know some great people a bit better who have since provided a social outlet for me. I realized how many friends I had in Boston or just a few minutes over the border in Mass. Women in leadership from camp, women whom I respect and love, reached out to me for encouragement, offered their homes and afternoons for coffee dates if I ever needed them, and emailed and texted me with their support. I am surrounded by awesome ladies and gents who love God- and who are also pretty fun, too.
I’ve been able to find a friend in my littlest sister, Britta, who is equal parts hysterical and precious. We’ve been out of step for too long. I love laughing with her or getting excited over the newest Nancy Drew game.
I was concerned about finding a church that was vibrant and passionate as my one in Davidson. My family brought me along to NextLevel Church, currently have services in my local movie theatre, and I have fallen in love. It’s laid-back, come-as-you-are-and-we-will-feed-you-big-time attitude has made me more excited to go to church (in jeans! I love it!) than I have in ages.
As for the big stress, the job, the Lord provided as well. I work at a jewelry store in town. It’s not a career- it’s a job to get settled- and I honestly cannot believe how wonderful it is. I feel as though I’ve been adopted into a fun family who takes really good care of me as an employee. It’s also fun-and I am so serious- to help people pick out gifts and offer my opinion on what goes and what doesn’t. My favorites are the beleaguered dads who are so overwhelmed at the thought of making fashion choices for their wives that they bring their little little daughters as sounding boards. They are so relieved to have help!
I’m happy to see the trees change and eat apples and lose it like the fair-weather fan I am when the Sox win a post-season game. I love Boston being so close, and the ocean, too, and I’m telling you there’s nowhere better come Christmastime than the Northeast. I got a warm pair of slippers, painted my room egg-shell white, and have stacks of books everywhere. I’m also looking at the first at-home Thanksgiving in four years; mom might even (squee!!) let my little sister and I do most of the cooking! I’m saving money and working towards a car. I’m reconnecting with high school teachers that I adore. Pumpkin Muffins all the time. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: It’s the little things, y’all.
I’m not saying that I am in a perfect place. I’ve made some missteps with spending time with Lord and consistently being a friend to those who are far away; that is hard for me. I’m learning to be better at self-grace giving, and I have to understand that adjustments aren’t meant to be flawless; that “success” isn’t necessarily a big job and a shiny apartment, as I taught myself to believe at my very competitive undergrad. I really do need to reprogram and rest, and continue to listen to what the Lord says about me. I’ve been hearing and believing everyone else’s opinions for far too long.
The summary of this tangent is this: I was afraid of being home, and I am learning to relish it. The Lord provided in big ways; to Him be the glory!
Anyways. Being at school again was both great and incredibly sad. It wasn’t the place I remembered; I didn’t fit there anymore, and if I had gotten what I wanted- a job nearby or a fellowship on campus- I would be miserable. I suffer from Fear of Missing Out syndrome like nobody’s business, and I would feel as though I was dropped in the middle of some time-capsule, unchanging where everyone else went and did them. It was time to close the door.
But I couldn’t see that six months ago amidst the sentimental haze of graduation. It’s so so so right and wise and true when people say that God gives us not what we want but what we need. A friend in a beautiful sermon drew lines between this statement and the fact that the Lord sees our needs and how the stretch into the future; that our wants tomorrow will be different, and thus oftentimes our current desires have no place in the life God has ahead of us. I felt that keenly a week ago in Davidson, walking past all that brick. What I needed is this- home- my dog Darcy on my bed and that huge plastic Jack-O-Lantern glowing in the window and a Dunkin Donuts nearby.
I am comforted by the fact that my Savior knows my heart, my moods, my future, and it’s impact on all those things. I can’t pretend to have that kind of insight. As I sit typing this, I am thankful for closed doors and Davidson, and the good change that I am fortunate enough to experience. It means, I guess, that I am alive.