Saturday, May 26, 2012

Handing Over the Key

The day after we move out, we're handing the keys over to another couple who will be moving in. These friends of ours really needed a place to stay over the summer, and it's been fun to see God provide this for them in literally the span of weeks. It has reminded me that He knows all of His children's needs, and that He is trustworthy. That being said, the reminder that we're not only emptying this place of peace in 5 days-- we're giving away the key-- has an air of finality that isn't exactly cozy. What if this new living situation doesn't work out? What if we realize it won't be possible to stay there for the next two years? What if I hate it and want out? We won't be able to return to the home we left. It won't be our home anymore.

When I was nine, my family moved from Georgia to South Carolina. I remember my mom saying once, "I don't want to go back and visit our old house, because I know the new owners changed it so much. It's not our home anymore." I didn't quite understand what she meant then, but I think I do now. It's not that seeing a different decorating style is offensive-- that part I like! It's realizing that the sacred spaces of my life-- the place I broke my ankle jumping off the couch because I thought I could fly, the hearth where my sister and I gave family concerts, the porch where my dad first watched a lightning storm with me--  they're not just behind me in the past, they're gone forever. Those special reading nooks and porch swings no longer spatially exist. 

I was bowled over by the same reality when my father passed away. It's not just that I couldn't talk to him or enjoy his company anymore-- it was that the man I knew had passed out of existence in this world. Even my five year old brother could tell that the body lying in the open casket at the visitation was "not Daddy." 

So how does handing over the key to a place that I chose to leave end up unearthing such show-stopping sadness? Because I'm not just handing over a key. I'm closing the door on a season of life that I can never get back. Even if I chicken out of this calling to move, I won't be able to prolong the season that is coming to a close. The first two years of our marriage, we were nestled under a protective wing. We needed it! Graduating college, moving across the country again, learning to be married, healing from past wounds, entering the world of seminary (and all the meltdowns that come with it), and transitioning to adulthood; these things called for a sacred space, a season of safety. And now the Lord is calling us into a new season, where we might feel less "safe", less nurtured, and less sheltered. There is a finality to the fact that I will never be a newlywed again, that we'll never have our first year of seminary again, that we'll never be "new to Texas" again. That season is ended, and I'm handing over the key. 

I'm learning that my sorrow isn't unfounded-- it's healthy to grieve. I should be sad! What I'm leaving behind is something I'll remember forever with glistening eyes. But what I'm also learning is that grieving the end of something good doesn't mean that what's to come is bad. The same God who provided for me in this season is the one who is calling me into a new one. And ultimately, it is in Him that safety, nurture, and shelter is found, not in my floor plan or job description. He knows my needs, and He is trustworthy. 

Because of His character, I can trust that this next space will be as sacred as the last. And that gives me the courage to hand over the key and keep moving forward. 

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