It is an odd thing to have to leave a good situation behind for an unknown scenario that could be just as good, or maybe better, or maybe not as great as what you left. I’ve been in Nashville for one year now, and those twelve months have gone by with a most inexplicable speed. In some ways, the seeming blink this time has been is a merciful thing, given how many facets of the year here were not enjoyable. And yet, I mainly find myself wishing the time could have slowed down and been drawn out a tad longer, for there is so much good I wish wasn’t coming to a close.
I won’t sit here and recount everything that took place. That would take much too long. Nor will I ever try to sit down and write it all because even though it was just a year, enough happened to fill a rather large book, and I have too many other things to write. That, and one task I never want to undertake is a memoir. Seems boring.
God has opened a tremendous door of favor with a graduate school in Georgia. For whatever reason they very much want me to attend their program, enough so that they accepted me and awarded me an assistantship before the application deadline had even come around. I can honestly say I never saw such a blessing coming.
And so you just go with it, I guess. I would have been content to stay in Nashville much longer, but God would not open a door. I applied to over one hundred jobs while living here (I didn’t work at an ice cream shop just because I really liked it) and only got two interviews from those, both of which amounted to nothing. The thought that a more sustainable career opportunity would open up so as to allow me to put roots even further down into the Tennessee soil was a tantalizing prospect, but it just never materialized.
This is not to say I didn’t find favor in other places. I’ve encountered the tremendously rich blessing of community and friendships from my church home here, both with my small group and the youth group I help out with as a leader. And while little pockets of favor popped up in other places, my church was really the only substantial one. I began to ask those wiser than I, “At what point do you take repeated closed doors to mean God is saying, ‘It’s time to move elsewhere’?” There was silence (perhaps because there is no answer to such a question), and I added, “You see, one thing I love about the Church is how you potentially have family waiting for you wherever you go. So if the only place I’m finding favor is with my church, is that enough to keep me here?” Everyone I talked to said, “Absolutely not. Don’t get us wrong; we’d hate to see you go, and we think you’re involved in good things here, but it wouldn’t hurt to at least look other places and see what might happen.”
And so I did. And within fourteen days I had been accepted to Georgia Southern University. As much of a planner as I am, I am realizing more and more every day how making plans is rather futile. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, but rather than trying to force doors open yourself with the plans you carry in your hand, the wisest way to live life may just be as simple as following the favor God gives you as it comes. This begins to sound suspiciously like a day-to-day existence, but then again I keep feeling like this is what God asks of his children since it requires more faith. He can, after all, ask you to move on at any moment’s notice, and you have to accept that. It’s not that I want to leave my precious youth kids (yes, I refer to them as if they were my own children), it’s not that I want to leave my small group family, but if God gives blessing, it doesn’t make much sense to turn it down. He does, after all, know how to give good gifts and makes things beautiful at the proper time.
It is my hope to return here to Nashville one day, preferably soon after graduate school. I pray God would open doors here for that to happen, but I offer that prayer fully aware he may do something entirely different. Such has been the theme of my life for as long as I can remember, and a lot can and will happen in the two years I’ll be gone from here, so perhaps I am leaving this city for good. I can not predict or know such things. But I do hope to call this place “home” again at some point, for that is what it has become. As one of my friends said, “I feel like Nashville is a good place to become ‘local.’” He’s right. There’s something irresistible about the place.
While I do possess a healthy knack for nomadic wandering matched by a love of travel, there is also within me a strong desire to put down roots, to have a place to return to known as “home.” Nashville quickly became such a place because of the rich relationships here, and so leaving is very much like cutting off a piece of your soul.
I think if I were to die in a few weeks, I would want to buried here and have my funeral here. Though I grew up in Dallas, it’s not home anymore, and while I just recently spent four years in Arkansas going to college, that state never felt like home (no offense, Razorback fans). But this place is different in intangible ways that defy description.
I take back what I said. While recovering from shoulder surgery this summer back in Dallas, I will most likely sit down and write out a reconstruction of this past year. Not for a publisher, not for an audience, but for me. It’s a form of writing therapy in a way: recounting what has occurred in the past so as to have it on paper in front of you with the hope that then you can see with clarity how God was moving, though you weren’t able to see it in that moment as it occurred. A retrospective diary, you could say. This summer would be a good time to do that while everything is still fresh in my memory.
I don’t know what’s next. I can’t really think about that now. Too much of the current circumstance is bittersweet with more of an emphasis on the “bitter” end of that swinging pendulum due to the numerous “goodbyes” that are taking place. But that does not overshadow the blessing that has been, that has come. I don’t suppose it will be the last.