After three months of living and working in a strange city, I am coming home. Now, I originally thought I would title this blog “Going Home”, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t accurate. I’m not really going home because a large part of me never left. What’s really happening is the part that was away is coming back to rejoin the part that was always there. My heart was always at home.
These past three months have seen a lot of change. Neither the situation nor the man who left is the same. Back in those early days of December I was pretty much of a mess. I was emotionally shredded by all the events of the previous months. I hated leaving my family behind, but I knew I had to leave. There was a job here that I really needed. WE really needed. The financial situation was desperate. Almost a year of trying to make it outside of high tech had taken its toll in so many ways. That’s a whole other story for another day. In those days, I was so emotionally lost I couldn’t decide for myself how to feel. In that state, I was vulnerable to the emotions of the people around me in a dangerous way. I would let them control my emotions because I wasn’t controlling them myself. Being emotionally co-dependent with another person or persons is never a healthy way to live.
The night I arrived here I thought I was the saddest man alive. Driving in the dark, in a rented car, through a totally alien landscape, I have never felt more disconnected from my life than I did in those first few hours. It still hurts to even think about it. I was utterly alone as far as human company was concerned. I had no idea what the future would hold or how I was going to handle this new situation. All I could do was take one step at a time and continue to take the next step after that and the one after that. In that manner I got through those first few days, never looking past what had to be done next. Sometimes that’s the best way to get through a difficult situation. One step at a time.
I won’t go into all the details, but over the next month or so God started to work some pretty amazing changes in me. In the first few days or even weeks, there was a lot of loneliness, desperation, anxiety and sadness, but through it all God was speaking to me, and I finally started to listen. What I heard may have saved my life. I heard him telling me over and over that I wasn’t alone, that I wasn’t weak, that I was strong enough to not only survive but to change in ways that would carry that strength into every part of my life. I had to give up some things that I really love. Give them up to God, and stop trying to hold onto them. I had to learn to trust my Papa with everything, including my family, marriage and children. I had to learn to let go of the illusion of control that I had held onto for all my life. Give it up. It wasn’t real anyway.
This obviously wasn’t an overnight process. In fact it was very gradual, one small step at a time, until I started to notice the change. The first thing to go was my anxiety. Worry never added a day to anyone’s life. That’s what Jesus said. I started to believe it and trust that worrying wasn’t going to make things better, only worse. I may not be able to control circumstances, but I can surely control how I react to them, and that’s the key. How I choose to handle every situation is all the control I am ever going to have. I’m good with that idea now. Along with the anxiety I lost the fear and the desperation. God is in control. Whatever happens, I’m going to be ok. I’ll find a way to live with it and go on living. I can love people, but not need them in a selfish way. Relationships are more about what I have to offer instead of what’s in it for me.
Spending all that time alone with myself and God was both hard and good. I’m not sure I would ever want to do it again, but I’m pretty sure I’m glad it happened. I can’t imagine going back, emotionally, to the place I was three months ago. No thanks. And I don’t have to go back to there. That’s not who I am anymore. The old man is dead.
So, I’m coming home. There’s much more to the story of my time in the wilderness, but it’s not relevant to this post. I’m coming home. Home. There may be no sweeter word in the English language. Some of the circumstances have changed, and some of them haven’t, but I have changed, which makes it all different. I am not a victim. I’m not lost. And I’m not confused about who I am or who God is to me. I don’t believe for a second I’m done. I haven’t “arrived”. I’ve just taken one more step on a long journey toward being more like Papa, and in the end that’s quite enough. I am thankful for the circumstances that gave me the opportunity to support my family once again and at the same time be refined in an emotional fire like nothing I have ever seen before.
This doesn’t have to be just a story about me. If you are living with anxiety, fear, doubt and worry, maybe it’s time for you to put that old man down too. I can tell you with certainty that letting go of all that stuff will make a major difference in the way you walk through every moment of every day. You don’t have to be cast out into the desert to make the change, either. All you really need is a few quiet moments every day to spend with God and ask him who you are in his eyes. Listen. There is love available to every one of us that is much greater than any problem we ever imagined. All we have to do is receive it.
The journey continues. But first, I’m coming home.