With apologies to Alyssa, and the rest of the Lehmans, who are more sad about the hole that we leave behind than we are about the adventure we have moved on to. We do love and miss you greatly.
It's time for us to grow,
And I am glad
That we can do it cleanly.
We can move out of
This space without
Breaking it wide open.
One change paves the way
For all kinds of
Different, all kinds of change.
I was standing in the doorway, taking a last look at the apartment where Landon and I had lived our first year of marriage with all its attendant joys and struggles. The rooms were empty, just like the first time that I ever saw them. Gold carpet from the 70s in the living room, with its faux wood paneled walls, and the tall tall windows that I loved so much. I could picture the same thin blue carpet in the bedroom, the same purple sheers on the windows. It was all the same, but I felt it so differently from my first glimpse. The first time I saw the apartment it was full of ethereal dreams, but in the past year Landon and I had packed so much real, solid living into these walls that even in this emptiness I still felt that life emanating from the surfaces. And so I wondered why I wasn't more sad. Sad to see the space without “us” in it. Our books and little end tables gone, the burnt orange chairs (also from the 70s?) carried off to their long home, the walls and end tables bare of our pictures. Shouldn't I be shedding tears at the thought of leaving? Didn't the thought of never seeing this place again warrant more than a tiny lump in my throat and a slightly melancholy sigh?
The reality was that I was excited. I had barely turned the key for the last time and left it in the mailbox before I left behind my sadness for building anticipation. I couldn't summon tears at the sight of my beloved apartment because I knew that it was time to move on; the Wind had whispered that it was time to go. Landon and I had learned what we were there to learn. We were growing restless here, and I was excited that our growth could be accomplished cleanly, slipping out of this space instead of breaking it open. I looked forward to a bigger city, a new way of doing life, and a more challenging space to live in. A week later, I find that I already need to remind myself of that excitement, and that clear-eyed way of looking at the move. I'm still excited, but excitement about an overarching Reality of things gets so easily bogged down in the thousand concrete aspects of accomplishing it.
First, there's the sheer hard work of taking a nebulous, dreamy vision of a new life and making it a reality as best we can with what we have. Getting boxes unpacked collides with the reality that we have less space here than we did there, and we may have to make some hard choices about what we can keep and what goes. A desire to organize our apartment quickly has to face up to the reality of acquiring furniture which has to face up to the reality of what we can and cannot afford. None of these are insurmountable obstacles, but it takes discipline to not lose sight of where we're trying to get to in the effort of getting there.
Second, there's the indubitable fact that needing to be a more grown-up, disciplined person doesn't automatically make me that. I've been given more space in which to grow, but I still need to do the hard work of aiming myself for that growth. I am afraid of change and growth because they are inherently beyond my control. I can't choose what God is turning me into, and so I am tempted to cling to what I am already. I may not like it all that much, but it's safe. This is a paralyzing fear; it tempts me into non-action. I have to work hard not only to be the person that I need to be in order to fill up this new space that God has given me, but also to overcome my fear of becoming that person.
Third, and overall, the situation that we're in leaves us vulnerable. There is much that is at risk when we move beyond the conforming but protective powers of familial expectations and cultural familiarity. We have to find a new church which will inevitably shape us, meaning that it needs to be chosen with care. We have to gather our own circle of friends and acquaintances which is a daunting task, but a a skill that we cannot fail to learn. We have to develop our own pattern of living and our own expectations for how we use our time and money because we are more than ever outside of what our cultural background speaks to. All these choices could bring unhealthy influences into our lives, and if we aren't listening closely to the Spirit, or wielding enough wisdom we could make choices that we will regret years down the road. I am afraid of all these things even as I rejoice in having these choices, and this fear, too, leaves me vulnerable. It puts me on edge; I snap at Landon more easily, and I sink more quickly into my own peculiar mixture of obsession and depression. I flounder as I try to find the expressions of our essential unity in these circumstances. This fear, too, blinds me to the Reality in which we live, the Reality that we are where we are because God has called us here. That He has been faithful with His call in the past, and will be in the future, and that I cannot wander too far off the right road before He brings me back.
Ultimately what kept me from the sadness that might seem due at leaving a beloved situation was trust and love, and that is what needs to keep me from unduly longing for the security that we left behind. That security would be stifling to us now; I may not see it right now, but I know it, and I have to believe it. Only this Truth can set me free from the fear that has dragged me down in the past week. It is only this love that can let me hold dearly the memories of that past year without wishing to go back to them.