I am moving back to where I grew up in a little over a month. Typing those words simultaneously terrifies and excites me. To be honest, they aren’t words that I ever thought that I would say. They aren’t words that most people that know me thought I would ever say. For example, my mother was having lunch with an old friend a couple of months ago. As mothers are wont to do, their children came up in the conversation.
Mother’s Friend: Is Sarah really coming back to the area?
Mother’s Friend: Well, I would have lost that bet.
I’ve experienced variations of that conversation myself countless times over the past few months. And, to be honest, I would have lost that bet as well.
When I left home in 2012, I never thought that I would be coming home, except for visits and, maybe, an occasional summer. For the last few years, I have bounced between Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Jefferson City, Lexington (VA), and Dublin. Each of these places have shaped me, changed me, and given me memories (good, bad, and ugly). The last seven years have been an adventure with opportunities that I could never have imagined. The last seven years have been an extended season of preparation.
Yet adventures and seasons of preparation must come to an end.
A new adventure, a new season is about to begin. As I said, this terrifies and excites me. Ask me one day about how I am feeling, and I’ll be over the moon. Ask me the next, and I’ll be in the depths of despair.
I am scared about the next chapter because I don’t know what it holds. I am going back to a place where my roots run deep. A place where some of the most precious people in the world to me live. This is wonderful and, yet, I am not going back for a visit. I am not going back to simply pick up the threads of my childhood and go one as if nothing has changed, as if I have not changed. In going back, I must actually add new threads to the fabric of my life.
I am not simply my grandparents’ granddaughter. Nor am I, simply my parents’ daughter. I am myself and I cannot live in the past or in the shadow of the ones I love because it safe, known, and easy. This scares me because it requires action. It requires trial and error. It requires me to stop waiting for God to push me off the cliff and, instead, to leap into this new adventure with an open heart and mind.
What if I fail? What if I leap and the impact hurts? What if the season of preparation wasn’t enough?
Those are trick questions and ones that I already know the answer to.
I will fail. I will leap and the impact will hurt. The season of preparation wasn’t enough. Why? Because I am not enough. I will never be enough. On my own, I will never be strong enough, prepared enough, or ready enough to face new adventures, new seasons without failures and struggles. God doesn’t wait until we are prepared enough for what comes next. He calls us to follow him into the unknown, to trust in Him, not in our own abilities. He knows the plans He has for us, we just have to follow Him into the adventure, no matter if it leads back home or to a foreign land.
My path, for now and maybe forever, leads back home. While terrifying for the reasons mentioned above, that fact also brings me great joy and excitement.
For the first time in forever, I already know what aisle the peanut butter is on in my local grocery store. No longer am I thinking in short term plans, my calendar is not determined my school schedule. I don’t know if I will be there for two or five or fifteen years. I can get involved with organizations that require long-term commitments. I will hopefully have at least a little time and money to donate to local charities and outreach programs.
Additionally, I am no longer limited to phone calls, emails, text messages, and letters to regularly communicate with several of the people I love most in the world. We can grab coffee on a regular basis! I can host dinner parties! We can bake lots of cookies together! I actually have time to learn how to make Mrs. Gay’s sourdough bread! I can meet new friends, weaving new threads in with the old. The possibilities make me giddy.
However, the excitement comes with its own set of questions. Why did God give me this opportunity to come back home? Why not a bigger city? Why not Texas?
The answer to that question came from a hobbit. In The Return of the King, Meriadoc Brandybuck muses, “It is best to love first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep.” This made my heart happy, so very happy.
Maybe the answer is that simple. Maybe I am not yet done loving my shire. God still has roots he wants to me plant there, threads he wants me to weave. Maybe the many paths of my life will take me on adventures far away from home. Maybe they will all lead back. All I know for now is that I am coming home. A new adventure, a new season that begins not in a foreign land or big city, but in my own backyard.