Faith, Friendship, Journal

When It’s Hard Being So Far From Family

Our bye week was a couple of weeks ago. It also happened to coincide with our school district’s “Fair Days,” so since we had a four day weekend (and weren’t prepared to drop half our salary on three rides), I decided the kids and I would head to my hometown to see … well, everyone. My parents, my sister’s family, my brother’s family, several of my closest friends, they all still live there.

I spent the weekend completely invisible to my kids, which was fabulous. Who wants Mom when grandparents, cousins, and aunts are so readily accessible?

I took my kids to the museum I grew up going to.

I watched as eight cousins squashed together into my sister’s old bedroom so they could have a slumber party (refer to pic).

I ate the best barbecue AND the best Mexican food (don’t argue with me on this).

I went to watch my niece play volleyball in the gym I played a thousand games in.

I dropped my kids off at the elementary school I attended so they could spend the day in kindergarten with my favorite kindergarten teacher (my mom).

I went to the church I grew up going to and was, of course, one of the last to leave.

Everything was so comfortable. Every conversation was so easy. I was surrounded by people who knew me, who’d watched me grow up, who hugged me hard, who attended my wedding … and probably my brother and sister’s weddings as well.

I was in my bubble of unconditional love. And it felt so good. So relaxing. So easy.

As I was driving the six hours back on Sunday, I couldn’t help but feel a wave of sadness over returning to the less comfortable. After a year and half in our current town, I’ve met some awesome people and made some precious life-long friends, but I hadn’t felt that level of comfort in a long time.

I knew I’d be going from “where everybody knows my name” to “where hardly anyone even knows my face.”

I have felt the sting and discomfort of being Nobody for a while. And there’s a pressure that accompanies that: the pressure to prove myself worthy, to prove myself as Somebody Worth Knowing.

Being out of my comfort zone has caused me to question myself so much: am I likeable enough? am I kind enough? am I spiritual enough? am I funny enough? am I worthy?

These questions could lead me down a really scary path if I let them. I could easily come to the conclusion that I’m not any of those things, because a lot of my interactions would indicate as much (I can be super awkward, you guys. The things I say when I’m uncomfortable would make you ?).

And more than that, I know there’s an ever-prowling enemy whispering lies, hoping I fall into the traps he’s setting all around me. Man, he’s counting on me to play the victim and feel sorry for myself. He really wants me to withdraw and believe all the thoughts swirling around in my head.

But the truth is, I’m recognizing that the Lord is using this discomfort to point me towards his truths, instead of this dependency I seem to have on the approval of humans. When people don’t see me as I want them to, will I be desperate to fix it? When I don’t know if I’m liked, will I try harder? If I feel like I’m not fitting in, will I give up?

Am I so dependent on the approval of others that I don’t trust the HUGE stamp of approval God has already placed on my forehead?

I am worthy simply because He chose me. I am good enough simply because I’m his. I am worth knowing simply because I am a reflection of His character.

Can I be content in the way he’s created me? Can I be content in knowing he’s my portion and he’s guiding my steps and my relationships?

If you are finding yourself a thousand miles from your comfortable spaces, know this: it’s hard. I can tell you a thousand times to bloom where you’re planted and say “yes” and do the hard thing. But the truth is, there’s an enemy countering all of that with whispers of deceit …

They don’t like you.

You’re coming across way too strong.

That was a dumb thing to say.

Why do you always do that?

Who says that?

Don’t listen to him. Don’t even listen to me. Listen to what the Lord says about you. The only way to combat the lies of Satan is with the truth of his Word.

You are beautifully and wonderfully made.

You are a new creation.

You are being transformed into His image.

You were knit together by His hands.

You are chosen, holy, and dearly loved.

The enemy loves to isolate us. He’s crafty in the ways he convinces us to pull back from relationships and turn inward. His sole mission is to convince us we are not enough as the Lord created us, that we need to be better, try harder, change.

So you have a choice who you believe. Whose voice is going to be louder?

Uncomfortable is good. I hate to say it, but it’s true. It’s here that our strength is tested. It’s here that we decide if we are going to lean into our source of strength. It’s here we grow up and mature and become more complete, not lacking anything.

And maybe here is not where you would’ve chosen. But it’s exactly where you should be.