I got in my car this morning after buying a gift for our beloved baby-sitter, who is coming by today to say goodbye because her graduation schedule for the next few weeks is jam-packed, and the tears fell freely. Those tears were mostly for my kids, who have loved every minute she’s ever spent with them, who beg for her to come over and hang out, and who had their own tears when they learned of her visit today.
The emotions that grow when the tears are sparked, though, are overwhelming. This morning I said, “God, I do not understand why I am so emotional about leaving this place and going back to the place I never wanted to leave! This doesn’t make sense.”
A number of years ago the Lord helped me see that I was hindering my relationships in DFW because I’d been holding on to the dream of returning to Colorado. He took me through an intense process where I had to go to certain individuals and ask their forgiveness for pushing them away because I firmly believed that I wasn’t staying in Texas. I gave up my iron-fisted grip on Colorado and embraced living in Fort Worth like I’ve never embraced any place since my summers at Circle Square Ranch. When we left Fort Worth I vowed to myself that I would not do the same thing. As we drove away from the first place that we’d ever felt at home in I let my grip on it loosen and let it go completely. I told the Lord I would not be a slave to the desire to return and I would engage myself in Austin.
Well, most of you know what happened next, and if not you can read it here. My introduction to life in Austin was anything but gentle and because I’d let go of any hopes of returning to a safer place I often felt like an unanchored buoy in the middle of an angry sea. After I walked through the darkness and found out what true grace looks like, the Lord had to reveal to me where my place is.
He showed me that for years I’d been searching for my place, just like Michael W. Smith sings about, “looking for a reason, roaming through the night to find my place in this world . . .” (if you grew up in the 90’s, then you know what I’m talking about) and I had been stuffing myself into spaces that I thought were mine when all of the time my place had been just a little bit behind me. The Lord showed me a Julie-shaped-hole standing right beside Him and told me that all I had to do was to stop reaching and stepping forward toward other things, and instead step back just a hair and fit myself into the space that He had created for me right beside Him.
It’s been an ongoing journey to remember this, to not reach out and look for where I belong and to remain in my place beside the Father, especially now as we face yet another transition.
In the car today I confessed that I feel guilty for not being happier about going back to the place that I hold so dear in my heart, and that it is insane how sad I feel about leaving Austin. I reasoned with myself that it is more about my kids, and the fact that I hate change and I’m so over moving, but when I got home, the Lord reminded me of something that I’ve been hearing a lot of the last week, something that came up because of a retreat that I helped put on.
“You won’t go back the way you came.”
Here come the tears again.
People look at me like I’m crazy when I say that I have not fallen in love with Austin, that I didn’t engage all that this city had to offer. Most of the time I just shrug and let them think what they want to because my story is still a raw one to share publicly, and I prefer to focus on what God did in me through my failures.
That is the whole point.
I came here a broken woman, with little sense of belonging or self, lonely, depressed, and frustrated with the Lord.
That is not how I am going back. I am returning to Fort Worth changed and more in love with my Savior than ever before. He allowed me to walk through pain and suffering because I needed a greater understanding of His sacrifice and His grace. I needed a greater understanding of my own fallibility and need for forgiveness. I needed to know things about my marriage, my husband, and my kids that I could not have learned more effectively in any other way.
The goodbyes are hard, no matter how short a time we have been here, but I wonder if the underlying cause for all of these tears is that, as much as I would say that I hated moving here, this city has been a place marker in my walk with the Lord, and I will never, ever forget what He did here. I will always be grateful for the precious gift of grace that He pours over me all of the time, and for the understanding that He gave me. I will never be the same because the Father walked me through a wilderness season in Austin, and from what I have learned about the wilderness, it is a harrowing, yet precious place to be.
Is there a situation in your life where you can apply this phrase? How has the Lord been changing you?