It has been said that the only constant in life is “change” a quote attributable to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. With the passing of another year, I have been thinking a lot lately about change. This year is going to bring some big changes into my life; some highly anticipated – an addition to our family, some I’m dreading – my old dogs passing that I see on the horizon, and some causing quite a bit of anxiety – a move from our home of the past 13 years. Not to mention all the other changes that are unforeseen at this point in time. I often feel that my life has been in a constant state of “unsettledness”. We always seem to have something up in the air that we are attending to or trying to make a decision about.
My husband told me a long, long time ago that life would never be boring with him, and boy was he right! We’ve done a lot of things from starting a business in 3 different states to picking up and moving from a state we grew up in to move 1000 miles away to a state where we didn’t know anyone or even have jobs. We had a dream. We wanted to live someplace warmer, to get away from the cold and the confines of the northeast with its stifling regulations, months of the cold, and high cost of living, and start over someplace with a slower pace. I’m sure a lot of people thought we were crazy…after all, we had a nice home in a great town, and we had a successful family business. We waited till the time was right, our youngest had finished high school and we took the leap of faith and just did it. We bought a house in need of repair we found on the internet that we had only visited once briefly in a town we had never heard of. As it turned out both our sons came with us, the youngest went to college in a nearby town and the other decided he had nothing to lose by trying to start over in a new place as well. I’ll admit it was a little bit scary not knowing how things were going to turn out and while that son went to college nearby, he wasn’t so keen on the idea of having to leave friends and the town he grew up in. It’s one thing to go away to college but be able to come home to your parents in your hometown it’s another when your parents are moving away as well! Things didn’t turn out the way we thought they would in that little coastal town in North Carolina, but we still did alright. We made friends, we fixed up that historic house, we worked in our own business and did a lot of exploring. We were there for 4 years. By then our oldest son had moved back to Massachusetts and the youngest was finishing up college. It was at that point that he said to us, “I’ll come to visit you here but I’m never going to live here it’s too flat and it’s too hot!” He said, “you guys should go check out Tennessee, I really think you’d like it there.” At that time we couldn’t disagree with him; it really was too hot and the economy in the area was beginning to take a downturn. So, we went to Tennessee to check it out fell in love with it, and made another move. Again, with no jobs and not knowing anyone we bought another fixer-upper on 19 acres we had visited only once and settled in. Shortly after we found our way to Grace Community Church.
Over the years we have had many people ask us, “how did you do it? How did you just pick up and go somewhere where you didn’t know anybody and didn’t have any jobs?” My answer was that John and I knew we had each other, we were never going to be alone, and that we would do whatever we had to do to make it work and that’s just what we did. We’ve done several things here in Crossville. we have raised goats and chickens, had 3 different family businesses with varying degrees of success and we both went back to school. John is currently employed as the instructor in the program he was a student in. We’ve also met a lot of good people and made some great friends and we’ve done a lot more exploring. We love it here and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
God works in mysterious ways. If we hadn’t taken that initial chance and gone down that path when we had the choice and moved away from the safety of all that we knew it’s doubtful we would have found our way to God in any real meaningful way staying where we were. It was because we stepped out and were willing to make a change and take a chance at the unknown that we met the right people at the right time that led us to faith. Recently in talking to my older son’s fiancé she asked me, “how did you just pick up and move and not know anyone?” I told her it’s a “growth” thing. If we had not done it, we would not be the people we are today. You have to have courage and faith that you CAN do it. You have to take the chance even when you are unsure and it’s hard and you feel awkward to start up a conversation or to go to that event or apply for that job. Every time you do it you gain a little more confidence and the easier it gets.
The son that wasn’t very happy about moving away from his friends and going to college 1000 miles away freely admits now it was the best thing he could have done. He knows that had he stayed in that hometown, he never would have had the experiences he has had or met the people he has met, including his wife, because he would not have had to put himself out there. It would have been easier if he stayed in his comfort zone of familiarity, but he wouldn’t be the person he is today if he hadn’t been willing to make the change.
It takes courage and faith to step into the unknown. Change is going to happen either way be it good or bad, big, or small, but it is always an opportunity for growth if you let it be and you are willing to learn from it. While John and I always believed in a God we were not practicing followers until we found our way to Tennessee. I think God knew we were seekers, and we were being led all the time whether we understood it or not. He was laying the path for us, and we just had to choose to take it. I am so thankful we did because it’s through all those changes that we were led here to a faith-based community and into a more meaningful relationship with him.
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”