Moving Away

I found out yesterday a friend of mine is moving away and it made me more sad than I expected. As a native Cincinnatian, you get used to people leaving and I don’t see him often now that we don’t work together but it still sucks. He’s not the only one leaving or considering leaving.

“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.”
Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven 

I used to want to get away from Cincinnati, you know? I wanted to get away from what felt like a tiny town with suffocating people and go… anywhere but here. Looking back, I can see that was more about how I felt than it was about the city. I doubt I would have been happier anywhere else. At the time though, when God put His finger on my heart and on this city and said, “Abide in me through them,”  my gut response was, “Shit.” I mean it’s not a classy response but it’s how I felt.

I’m locked into this city and saying no to money? Sounds like sacrifice. Yet here I am over two years later and I LOVE Cincinnati and her people. I praise God for the community He has blessed me with and the opportunities He’s provided me to build into others and be built into. I still want to travel, I want to see things. But I’m not running from or to anything anymore. This is a city that God is moving in and I am excited to be a part of it.

Not everyone feels that way about Cincinnati and I get it. Maybe Cincinnati isn’t part of their story. My last class I read this book written by a man who was dying (paper posted earlier). In part, I think he was saying what I believe: that life is not all “live, love, laugh…” It is suffering and sacrifice. For instance, the cost of love, particularly when death is involved, is loss. Does that mean we do not love? No, we should love all the more fiercely and profoundly; let this life be something that is a tragedy when it ends. The REAL question is, what do we sacrifice and suffer for? What are we giving our life over to?

“Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and so they give their lives to little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it…and then it’s gone. But to surrender who you are and to live without belief is more terrible than dying – even more terrible than dying young.”
Jeanne d’Arc

For me, it used to be promotions and money. Relationships outside of work suffered for that and I was willing to leave my family and friends halfway across the country for a pile of paper. Not even a passion! I wasn’t invested in my industry; it was just money… But now? Cincinnati. The possibility of building into a community where I hope to someday have my own family surrounded by these people I love dearly and of course my sister and parents? These things are worth dedicating my life towards.

 

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The Truth Is …

…I am sometimes afraid that I am that which was spoken over me so many times: unlovable. Not by God, who I know loves me deeply and in whom I find great comfort. But last Woman Camp with Crossroads, during a time of prayer and reflection, I walked away with what I realized was:

“Beloved… Be loved.”

This has resonated through these past months, prayers, and my growing effort to be vulnerable and authentic; to let people in and know more about who I am. But of all the things I’ve felt challenged to do, to receive love is the hardest, and not just because someone can choose whether or not to love me but because of what was done to me and how it effected me. It makes me feel weak to even admit that, but it’s the truth.

I was in a relationship for a long time where love was used as a weapon against me because love is what I am best at and I forgave so willingly and frequently. I stayed longer than I should have because I thought if I sacrificed enough of myself he would understand what love was. But instead, love and apathy were weapons wielded expertly and efficiently for years. At the end of that relationship I realized I needed to spend some time healing and breaking the patterns of dating men who are dangerous to me.

I’ve even started to see some of the things I had to offer: I operate well in relationships, I’m compassionate and empathetic. I love God and community. I can have fun and balance it with a depth of conversation. I’m flexible, thoughtful and I deeply enjoy laughter and trying new things. I desire family and community.  Then there’s that “BUT.”

You see, I have a fairly clear vision for the kind of man I’m supposed to end up with from these times with God. He’s not perfect but he’s got a servant heart for God’s people; he gets what God calls us to and pursues a deeper relationship with Him. He understands struggle and demonstrates compassion. He has intellect that can carry a conversation and enjoys laughing. He’s a protector. BUT why would this guy notice me?

And I don’t mean this in a way that is humble or self-deprecating, or even because of low self-esteem. I just mean that there’s a sea of women out there and I’m somehow going to stand out to this quality of a man when I only seem to attract the opposite. I know that God can work miracles, and of course I pray. I pray for me, I pray for him, that we move closer to God and that God give us vision and a conviction of heart and speaks into our lives. That God convict his heart about me and me for him.

God has been working, at least in my life. He repaired my heart. He restored me from my fear of men by placing me in community where I saw men outside my family who weren’t predators. And I’m not upset about my past because it makes me DEEPLY appreciate the good men in my life. The facts would depress some but the effect is perhaps similar to being quite ill and then being restored to good health.  Because I have been treated so poorly, it makes me appreciate those who understand relationships and do them well.

I wonder though, if I see myself clearly. If there’s anyone that sees me for what I can offer in a relationship. I would love to be with someone who has a heart for the things I have a heart for; who wants a family someday built on the foundation of God and serving His people. Who values community and how we can build into it and each other. Someone who loves this city and her people. I think beautiful things could be built on that foundation.