On moving somewhere new.
I've been living in Indianapolis since June 2016 – for about a year and a half now – and only recently has it finally started to feel like home. I didn't think that moving two hours away from my home state would be that big of a deal. I didn't think that one state line could separate from that familiar feeling of comfort.
Spoiler alert: It was a big deal. And it did separate me from comfort. Moving to Indiana was different than moving to Columbus, Ohio for college. The move and the transition seemed a little less scary because I knew I'd have Isaac here and we'd be married the following year, but I knew it would be different. There was a heavyweight of permanence that came with this move to Indiana. I think it felt so terrible to me because I didn't even want to move here in the first place. That wasn't my plan. But Isaac's job brought us here, and that became the new plan. I struggled to accept that, and I struggled to trust God with how things were playing out. I don't think I trusted him at all, actually.
There is one thing I've learned about coping with moving somewhere new. You should let yourself feel your feelings. I mean really lean into them. Sure, pretending to love your new life in your new city when you actually hate your new life in your new city might fool everyone else on Instagram and Facebook. But it only leaves you feeling much, much worse. For me, there came a point when pretending became too exhausting. There came a point when I finally stopped and said, "Yes, this really sucks. I don't want to be here. I don't like my job. I want my old friends back." And I realized it was okay to feel all of those things.
It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be lonely. It's okay to cry to your fiancé while he listens to you talk about how unhappy you are, how hard it is to make friends and how much you hate your hour-long commute to and from a job that you're not passionate about. Once I let myself feel the way I actually felt, then the healing process began. I felt sadness and loneliness and frustration as deeply as I could. I processed them fully and tried to understand where they were coming from. I sat in those emotions and let them run their course. Then, I could let them go.
There are two things I've learned about moving somewhere new. Community is absolutely necessary. But community does not and will not "just happen." Real community requires real effort. If you want community, you're going to have to work for it.
When I first moved here, I knew a handful of girls who were some of Isaac’s best friends in college and were also living in Indianapolis. For reasons obviously rooted in insecurity, I didn’t want to be friends with them. But I knew I needed to be. I knew I needed to start somewhere. But as we all know, starting is always the hardest part.
Sometimes you have to be the first one to text. To make plans. To reach out. Even when the only thing you feel like doing is crawling into a hole and teleporting back to the time when your childhood best friends lived down the street from you. You have to open yourself up even when the only thing you feel like doing is shutting down.
I had to work up the courage to reach out to these girls I barely knew and ask them to be my friend. It was uncomfortable. I felt like I was forcing my way into their friend group. I felt like I seemed desperate. But I wanted to find community more than I was afraid to seem desperate.
And I did find it. After a few months, as with all relationships, things felt more natural once I got to know them. And then we started a tradition of meeting every Monday night to just be with each other. Sometimes we'd try to start bible studies and end up watching The Bachelorette instead. Sometimes we'd talk about Jesus and sometimes we'd talk about how shitty of a day we had at work.
For me, community was born in the commitment of investing in those Monday nights. I realized that the only way to find community is to have the courage to create it yourself – and then committing to the hard work of nurturing it, so that it grows stronger and the roots grow deeper.
The funny thing about my utter distrust in God after making the move to Indiana is that, in the emotional mess of the transition, I ultimately grew closer to him.
It's always frustrating to be stuck in a place – be it physical, mental or emotional – where you don't want to be. But I think those are the places where God works the hardest. He strips away the things that you were so dependent on – like familiarity and comfort – and he patiently waits until you figure out that you need to depend on him instead. That might be the best lesson of all.