Monday, July 18, 2016

Perspective

The cornfield behind our house

When we went out West a few weeks ago not only did I get to see my family, but I got another gift as well. I gained a new perspective, which, I had forgotten, always happens when I go on a trip.

It's been nearly a year now that we've lived in Kokomo. A year since we moved away from our home, the West. It's been a hard, emotional year for me for a variety of reasons. I've been taught a lot this year by my Heavenly Father, and grown in ways I can't measure.

The first several months we lived here I was so emotional. We were so excited and felt so good about this move, but it turned out so different than I had imagined. I wanted to belong somewhere. I wanted to move some place and feel like this is home. But that feeling never came.

I went through so many internal struggles. Is there something wrong with me? Am I not strong enough to adapt and change? Is there something wrong with this place? Do we need to move? Why am I so unhappy here?

Kokomo was not what I had expected. I had gotten so comfortable in my last environment with so many stay-at-home mom friends and everything catered to big Mormon families. I had forgotten how to be different.

Then I also had this sense that when I moved somewhere, I needed to belong there. The place where I lived should contain other people like me, like-minded in some way, be it education level, hobbies, priorities or temperament. But this town strikes out on practically all of those. The families they have are small. The parents work long hours. And for social interaction, the norm is silence, not small talk. How can you be happy in a place where you don't have any peers?

I searched manically in the surrounding suburbs and towns, wondering if I could find us a place where we belonged. But then I began to wonder if the problem wasn't the place, but what if it was me. If there was something wrong with me, would I never be happy again? Could I never be satisfied anywhere? And on the opposite side, what if I was supposed to live here forever? How could I ever call this place home? There was nothing here that represented who I was or what I was about. I didn't identify with this place where we were living.

But after returning to our once-home, the West, I found that the perspective I needed was waiting for me there. I have never wished to move back to where we came from, but I assumed going back to visit there, among the people I love, I would certainly be happier there than I was in this foreign place out here.

But I didn't get that grounded, happy, peaceful feeling I had expected to feel in the West, in this place that was so familiar to me, this place that was home. I actually missed the isolation, the chance to be different. I missed the green grass and the thick foliage, the wind in the trees. I even missed the humidity. God had sanctified our family in the Midwest, given us only each other to lean on. It had given me a new respect for our small family unit, a reverence for each other that was lost when we were surrounded by our family and people who were like us. And being without peers had allowed me, personally, to connect with God more, to be more sure of myself and less worried about competition and comparison. The land that I once loved, the place that I belonged was no longer my home.

This perspective I gained reminded me of another time the Lord taught me through my feelings. I had always planned on going on a mission, but when we took my older sister to the MTC, I felt sick to my stomach thinking about my own impending call. Not soon after that I started dating, and later married, Ben. Looking back on it now, it's so strange to think that a mission could suddenly become unattractive to me when I had wanted to go for so long. It's as if God educated my desires, making His will known (see 3 Nephi 19:24). It makes me wonder, with my sudden critical feelings toward the West, a place I have always loved, I wonder if it is the Lord's way of telling me I am in the right place here now.

So as we drove home I felt calm and happy. I felt excited to be going back to my new home.

I can see now that you don't need to 'fit in' to belong somewhere. You can thrive somewhere being different. And you can be happy, settled, okay with who you are even without a single peer. God knows you and knows what you need. He knows what you need to grow. I love this quote I heard recently, "God cares more about your growth and development and less about you being comfortable." I might not be comfortable here, necessarily, but I belong here. And I now know I wouldn't have it any other way.

2 comments:

  1. This resonated with me. We too live away from family and while it was hard at first, it has ended up being the best decision we've ever made, for so many reasons. You can do this!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Carly! If you can do it I can do it too!

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