Tomorrow starts a new chapter. Although it has the potential to be filled with fun, joy, and excitement, the page will be turned with apprehension, fear, and anticipation. It is a moment I do not feel prepared for, but when are we ever prepared for such things?
Somehow, reader, I think you can identify with me. It’s the night you walked off the football field for the last time. It’s the day you said your final goodbye to a loved one. It’s the day you left the job where you worked faithfully for 30 years. It’s the day your youngest child left for college.
Tonight I close the door on the old me. Quite literally. It’s my last night visiting the place that has been home since I was 14. I moved away 10 years ago, but it is still home. It is my last night here. My last night in the place that has watched me mold into the person I am now. The place that has witnessed countless days of joy and several nights of heartbreak. As I write I feel the lump growing in the back of my throat, but I refuse to let the tears fall on the pages of my new chapter. I will be a big girl.
Tonight I lay beside the man who traveled 5 hours one way to surprise me in this very place almost 10 years ago. When he walked in the back door, I just so happened to be in PJ pants and my ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt (yes his name was on the back) and no bra. Gee, thanks Mom for the heads up. You could have at least convinced me to brush my hair that morning.
I glance across the hall where the boys sleep. Those two have played their hearts out running, crawling, even riding circles on motorized toys in this place. They were introduced to the “old mommy” or more appropriately the “mommy before she was mommy”, but they will not know the me who ran up and down these stairs getting ready for school, who practiced for Wave Revue with a group of silly girls in the living room, who sat upstairs singing to the guitar with friends. The me who had to come back here to say goodbye to a mammaw, an uncle, a granddad. I shut down my mind before it goes too far into the memories.
The boys will not know that part of me. But I’m glad they get the result. I’m glad they get the woman who came out of all of that instead of the girl who lived it.
I look at the mounds of journals on my window seat. I wish I knew how many hours I logged writing. It has been one constant among a lot of change. It has seen me through more than I can even recount in my head. The good, the great, the bad, the ugly. Somehow I always knew I was writing to God, even before I came to realize that he already knew every detail that I wrote down. He wanted me to love Him and stop chasing the “perfect” me. Stop searching for fulfillment in the report card, the boyfriends, the material things, the need for acceptance from peers who didn’t know the real me anyway.
Those journals tell a story of a girl who went from a life of having everything she thought she wanted to a time of depression when God slowly unraveled the priorities in her life to reveal an empty heart that longed to be filled with something more, something lasting, something with purpose.
Turning the page of this new chapter really began a long time ago. Isn’t that how God works? You think you’ve suddenly come to a big bump in the road, only to find out that you have actually been on a slow incline for years. Maybe I am prepared. Maybe we all are.
I can’t express my gratitude for the journey. I couldn’t possibly name every person who helped me grow in some way or another, but so many faces stick out in my mind. I am grateful for you. You have walked, cried, laughed with me. I am not leaving you behind. I am inviting you to stay on this road with me.
I started to write “I’m looking forward to the new me”, but had to delete it when I realized that she is already here. I know her. She’s strong, loving, imperfect, and still a little restless. Why restless? Because she’s come to realize that there is no permanent home here. Our home is not on Earth. We cannot cling to the false sense of security that our manmade structures offer, for we will all be forced to leave at some point. And that is ok. Because there is something much better, friend. Perhaps closing doors is life’s way of reminding us of this truth.
In the mean time, this is not easy. This is absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I feel vulnerable. I feel exposed. I feel like someone has taken my life, shaken it up, and is letting me go to say, “You’ll figure out where to land. You will come out better.”
I am not wallowing (there’s that darn word again..see The Cereal Box Morning). I am not going to lay down and let circumstances pull me into a depression. I don’t necessarily want to close this door. I asked God to open new doors, but I had hoped he would leave the old ones open. But His ways are not my ways. He knows what’s best.
What will I write in the next chapter? Well, I can’t say. Each day will provide the content for a new story. While my idealistic side wants to believe that every day will be filled with rainbows and roses, my realistic side knows that there will be more storms and thorns. Regardless of what may come, I hope that I can use the circumstances to write a story filled with faith, endurance, compassion, and humility.
I hope that I can stop being the center of my story, because that focus has proven unfulfilling. I hope that I can look at your life and see past the hurt, past the insecurities, past the same brokenness that leads us all to screw up, and see the theme that is written in all of our stories: a heart that is searching for acceptance and a place to call home.
I want my words to mean something to someone. I don’t want them to be meaningless letters on pages seeking to benefit myself. I want them to be filled with something more, something lasting, something with purpose.
Thank you for joining me on this journey.
I have closed doors before. I can do this. And I will come out stronger.