Back in December, I posted this on Instagram:
We had been back in the States for about 4 months, with zero clue as to what we were doing next. We had no idea if we would head back overseas or stay here in the U.S.
I remember during that time, however, I had so many, many moments like the one above. Moments where my breath was stolen by a love for this place like I’ve never known before.
I was born in Arizona. Other than a few short years in my early childhood, I lived here for most of my life until I got married and we started our whirlwind expat adventure. But never have I felt such a stirring deep in my soul as I did last winter.
I remember this day. And I remember feeling terrified to love so much. I didn’t want to let myself feel because if I let myself truly fall hardcore in love with this place it would be that much more heartache when we left it.
I had no reason to believe we wouldn’t leave. That’s kind of what we’ve done our whole adult lives — and definitely what we’ve done the past few years.
I was tempted to put up a wall. To not let myself feel the full extent of the yearning that comes with falling in love. Tempted to fight the awe one of her sunset brings; tempted to ignore the flutter of palm trees silhouetted against an all-blue sky.
I also remember wondering why. Why in the world was there suddenly this fresh stirring in my heart for a place I’ve known all my life? As a kid I tolerated it. As a young adult, I couldn’t wait to leave it. As a newlywed jet-setting around the world, I appreciated it. But suddenly I was truly loving it. Loving her people. Loving her culture. Seeing beauty where I used to see…nothing.
Of course, we did end up staying here in Arizona, and we’ve made our home not too terribly far from where that photo was taken. Our windows look out over the foothills that made up my childhood home and my kids are stomping the same grounds I did all those years — something I never thought I’d have the privilege of seeing.
I see now that God was giving me a glimpse of what was to come. Just like He planted a love for Ireland and her people, then Vienna and her people, He planted a love for this place that He knew I would need on the dark days when I couldn’t see the forest for the cacti.
Because when reality hits and the dishes pile up and the 9-5 grinds us down and we look around this place and wonder what in the world have we done?….I can see.
I can see that this is the right place, this is the right time and whatever hardships or difficulties or annoyances we are enduring right now don’t negate that we were placed here in this house, this neighborhood, this school for such a time as this.
We have something this place needs. And that photo, that glimpse, reminds me that this place, these people, have something we need.
And so if you’re in a hard place today, I want to encourage you to go back. Look back to the place, or that time, or that note in your journal or that seemingly random photo on a website and remember.
And pay attention. That longing you can’t put your finger on? That flutter in your belly like a smile from your crush and you can’t figure out why because you’re just doing the same thing you’ve always done? Maybe you’re getting a glimpse. Maybe you’re being given the gift of seeing a tiny piece of the puzzle that is preparing you for what you can’t yet imagine. Tuck that away, dear friend. Don’t let yourself forget, but the time will come when you’ll need that glimpse like an anchor in a storm to remind you that you are where, you are who, you are what you are supposed to be.