We've been in Charlottesville for just about two months now. When family members and friends ask how we like it, it's not an exaggeration to say that in so very many ways, living here has been one enormous upgrade. And it's made me think--would I have noticed all of these small but really, pretty huge, luxuries and beauties and wonders had I not spent two years struggling to find my way in a place that never felt like home, a place far from everything I knew and that I never really cared for?
When we treat ourselves to twists at the ice cream shop on two-for-one Tuesdays, would I have appreciated that breathtaking view of the sun setting over the mountains on the drive back home (even more than the ice cream itself) like I do now?
Would I have found myself grinning and texting pictures to my (equally tea-obsessed) parents when I discovered the imported loose tea aisle in the grocery store?
Outwardly, our circumstances have been changed and it has been marvelous. But I've noticed an inward shift in me as well. Of course, I realize that your home or where you live or your job success don't define happiness or alone make up the ingredients for a rich life. In all of this, I've kept the same husband and the same family and the same faith and those are the things that really matter and that really bless my soul.
What I've noticed though is that this change in outward circumstances has created a perceptible shift in my own inner confidence. I never expected this but living in Alabama took its toll on my self-confidence and my sense of myself and who I am. If that sounds silly, well it wasn't just living in a state I didn't like that did it. It was the overall feeling (which constantly weighed on me) that we weren't in the right place, doing what we were meant to do, pursuing what we were meant to pursue--and that we were powerless in a lot of ways to change it all. It felt like a stalemate and I yearned for something more, both for myself and my husband. I hated explaining to people the latest shenanigans (to put it kindly) the Army was putting us through or telling my parents there was yet another delay/change in plans/mess-up. Bad information was slung around in astonishing frequency and we felt stuck.
That happens for two years straight and it affects you. I had to struggle on a daily basis to find my purpose in that season of life. Working on my faith, my marriage, and my writing became my major focuses (and I distracted myself with lots of fun DIY projects), but even then I did a lot of self-doubting and worrying if I could be doing it all better.
These days it feels like a cloud has lifted. I'm so proud to talk about what my husband and I are up to in this new, blessing-in-disguise phase of life. I feel stimulated by my environment, not burdened by it. I feel so much more confident (and only a touch worried) that I will be able to find my place here and thrive. We've been having friends over for dinner, my lovely and generous mother-in-law will drive an hour plus at the drop of a hat to see us, and we got to hear live music last Friday night. This weekend we're meeting my parents and brother in Staunton, Virginia to see a play. On Monday, I had a meet-and-greet with a sweet family to see if they're interested in lessons and at one point all four kids were "improvising" on my pianos and beaming ear to ear. (I think they're interested.)
Life is good and fulfilling and my soul is drinking it up. My heart and mind weren't always at their strongest in the past few years, but is it possible that they're now stronger than ever as a result? The Lord works in mysterious ways, friends, and if you're finding yourself yearning to become un-stuck, have faith that one day you will and you will be better for having gotten through it.