We sold our house in Rockford, IL last week. Dugan was traveling and when he called to tell me, my first response was “Oh my gosh YAY!!!” It was a short sale, and it sold for less than half of what Dugan had paid for it. And of course we don’t live in IL anymore, so all that to say, we were glad to have it off our hands. Which is why the burst of tears that followed caught me off guard. But the truth of the matter is that sale made our leave from Rockford final. And while we knew that was right, and what we were supposed to do, that meant the final page turn of a great bunch of chapters and what ended up being a great home.
From the moment I knew I was going to marry in to that house, I was bitter. I didn’t want that house. I wanted a house I picked. In a different neighborhood, with a different floor plan, with white molding and character and no stairs up to the nursery. I pouted about it just about every day until move-in day. But of course God knows things we don’t, and that ended up being the perfect house for us to begin our lives together and a family. I’ll remember D carrying me over the threshold on our wedding night, broken collar bone and all, and bringing Eva home from the hospital that first scary and odd night home. And so many of her firsts there. I’ll remember the intense community – the life changing small group dinners, and D meeting with incredible group of students in our living room, and the many many girlfriends that stopped by to bless me with Starbucks or cookies just because they were in the neighborhood (it pays to live behind Target!). I’ll remember walking Eva in the stroller to get our groceries, going to the park about every day in the summer, the beautiful blooming tree out back, and running at Midway Village – just a few streets away. D and I fell in love in that house, and we became a true family in that house. And while we outgrew it fast, it will have such a special place in my heart. My friend Betsy drove past it and text me “You sold your house! There is a new family in there, painting and hanging lights!” I can only hope that it’s just as big a blessing to a new family as it was to us.
During Dugan’s entire job search the past 2 years, and every time he travels, I nearly pace around my phone waiting to hear from him. Not because I miss him, which I do, but to hear about the place. In these past few years and months, he’s been literally all over the country speaking, interviewing, speaking more. Sometimes I go, but mostly I stay home. (It’s just more practical. Plus, I get emotionally attached to a place and people in like, .003 seconds, so it’s safer that I stay home). And every time Dugan calls, this is how our second conversation goes:
D: “Hi babe! How’s it goin?”
Me: Good! Soooooooooooo???
D: “‘So…….’ what?”
Me: “What do you freaking mean ‘SO WHAT?!’ SOOOO… ARE WE GOING TO START OUR FREAKING LIVES THERE?? SHOULD I BUY A (enter: surfboard, moped, caribeaner, pair of cowboy boots, plain ticket, enroll Eva in dance lessons at the nearest studio) THERE?!?!?!?!?!”
D: Silence, tongue biting, long pause. (Whatever happens from this point on usually depends on Dugan’s mood and how likely he is that day to put up with me freaking out on him about what we’re going to do with our lives).
What Dugan has learned in this process is actually that he really loves to travel and see different places and different cities and different churches. And has actually decided to make traveling and teaching/speaking his job. He’s an INCREDIBLE communicator and has a an energy and way to captivate students and adults alike, and I’m so excited to see how God uses him and his ministry. But honestly, accepting this job change was slow for me. I’d felt certain when I started my business that I was doing it in part so that when Dugan left the church we were at, I could take my work with me wherever he went. How did I get this notion wrong? And for that matter, if figuring out where we were going to live wasn’t about a job, how would we ever choose? We knew it was time to leave Rockford, we were certain. And so we headed to Phoenix. And we have mostly loved it. It was just the solstice we needed in this last season. To avoid the neverending midwest winter, and to know we could make it on our own–without job security and family and 100 close friends. But now, with our lease up in 2 months (and our current place no longer being able to lease again), the gap is closing between our time of rest and our time to move.
And the truth is that really, we can live anywhere. Anywhere. We are both self employed, and can probably work our businesses anywhere with a good internet connection and an airport. And let me say that the absolute luxury of this situation doesn’t escape me for a minute. I understand that this is an incredible gift. I understand that most people would be overjoyed at this possibility. So many people I know have that one place that they would live if they could live anywhere. D and I, however, don’t.
My friends have been supportive of me and all of my processing. If we live (_______), then there are beautiful mountains, but we are so far from family. If we live (________) then we are in a really cool urban town but have to live in a 1 bedroom loft on the 800th floor with no AC. If we live (________) then we could avoid blizzards, but we would have to buy and it wouldn’t be a great start for the storefront I hope to one day have. And the list goes on. 100s of phone hours logged, processing every possible state and move. And as loving as my people are, I can hear it in their voices: Just choose. Pick a place. Any place. If you don’t hear God, then just pick a place and He will bless it. And if you pick somewhere you hate, then just move again.
So I’m 32, and I’ve moved 10 times. 10 times packing up sharpied boxes, loading it all up, setting up a new place. Getting to know a new house and neighborhood. And honestly, I took every move in stride. I love change, really I do. I love moving around furniture and new holes in walls and changing things up. But once I turned 30, something shifted. And I couldn’t quite articulate it until this last trip I was on. I was in Colorado, with one of my greatest friends Chrissy. In an out of antique stores, we drove through the foothills and I imagined what it would be like to finally live in the same state as her again. It would feel amazing… but somehow, I couldn’t commit. As we rounded a beautiful mountain and the rainy sky broke way to deep blue, I burst out crying and said “I just want to go home. But I have no idea where that is.” All my life, as long as I can remember, where I lived seemed temporary. And that was cool. But now, deep in my soul I feel an aching to be home. Home. Not just some place that I can wallpaper (but man do I want to wallpaper) and put as many damn holes in the walls as I like, but a place where I truly feel I can plant roots. Build our family. Live rich lives where we invest in the community and local church and cool things to do and see. I place I won’t be uprooted from when a marriage or semester or lease ends. What was once a fun excuse to drop lots of money at IKEA, I am now over. I just want to go home.
And that is why I put so much pressure on Dugan’s job search. Because I was hoping that would answer the question for me of where home is. And that is why I put so much pressure on finding the perfect place to have a storefront. Because I was hoping that would answer the question for me. And that is why, when someone tells me “what do you have to loose? if you hate it, you can just move again” that I literally want to throw up the 26 stress Oreos I just ate.
I made a print about a year ago that says “With you Darling, I am Home.” I like it, and I think it really does apply to a lot of couples. In my brief research, I’ve found that people who grew up with less moves are way more gung-ho about moving around in their adult life. However, if I was going to letter a canvas for Dugan and I, I would write “With you Darling, I want to find home more now than ever.” (Not quite as melodic, is it?) Being with Dugan makes me feel safe and loved, but it doesn’t satisfy my inner sense of home. My God given desire to nest, make roots, and then flourish somewhere for awhile. Dugan is my love and companion, not my home. He is the person I want my home to be with.
And let’s say I find this home, and God decides to move us. That’s fine, and I’m in. But just for a little while, I want to feel like I can unpack my ALL my boxes, you know? And I’m not sure how to fully live in the waiting. Every day I try to conquer this deep longing. I pray, self talk, and caffienate. You are here now. Your life is happening now. Life happens in the waiting. Invest. And most every night I lay my head on the pillow and feel like I’ve won the battle for that day. But honestly, I’m exhausted. And I just want to go home.
matthew 11: 28-30, niv
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”