We are almost a year to the day since leaving St. Louis. This has been, by far, the hardest year we’ve experienced as a family. It’s been the hardest year of marriage, the hardest of parenting and simply the most uncomfortable we’ve felt. But there have been miracles along the way. They are victories that are meant only for us as a family to experience, but I can share without a shadow of a doubt that this hard, hard year has been a miracle in itself.
As we drove into St. Louis a couple of days ago and I navigated the streets so familiar to me, I realized what a blessing it is to know that my heart can be fully present in two places. St. Louis is home, but Tampa is home, too. And so is Texas! Our lives are richer and better for knowing the people we’ve met through the years in the different places we’ve lived. Perhaps that is our miracle!
This was published on July 24, 2011.
He didn’t want to try it. Fear prevented him from true joy, from enjoying to the fullest that which stood before him. The vibrant blue waters of the pool were enticing and he tasted the joy when he stepped into the water.
But fear held him back.
He couldn’t bring himself to put his face in the water. The fear of the unknown was too much and so he simply watched in longing. Every once in awhile he put his chin beneath the surface, delighted to feel the cool water – such a contrast to the blazing heat of the sun. If, by accident, water splashed into his eyes he cried and dashed for a towel, wiping it away before realizing how refreshing it could actually be.
I wondered if he would ever overcome this fear. I wondered if he would ever experience the miracle and joy that comes with taking the plunge and diving beneath the surface. I wondered if he would ever realize that conquering fear leads to freedom.
And then one day he did it. He stepped off the edge and took a leap of faith. Faith that he wouldn’t sink, but would indeed return to the surface as promised. Faith that fun awaited if he just took a chance. And do you know what happened?
Inexplicable Joy. Freedom. And he hasn’t looked back.
We’re stuck in the in-between right now. We’re in Arkansas for a week visiting family, which simply feels like any other vacation. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that we won’t be going back to St. Louis from here.
We head to Clearwater to stay in my parent’s condo until we either find a house or decide to rent. That, too, will feel like a familiar vacation, which in the past has always ended in us returning home. But Florida is home now. It doesn’t feel that way yet, but that’s what it is.
Mark Twain once wrote, “Change is the handmaiden Nature requires to do her miracles with.” I so hope for miracles as we make this move. What does a miracle look like? I don’t know. Maybe it will be something big and measurable. Maybe it will be something that can’t be seen but only felt…realized only upon looking backward after time has propelled us past this unsure moment.
Maybe the miracle is our willingness to take the plunge – to face our fear of change and dip our head beneath the cool waters of the unknown. We would have been fine splashing in the waters of familiarity, but then we might have missed out on the joy and freedom that comes from taking a plunge beneath the surface.
Maybe the miracle will be my children suddenly waking up each morning with smiles on their faces and nothing but kindness on their lips. Maybe the miracle will be my children sleeping past 6:30 every morning!
I can dream can’t I?
Change leaves your heart and spirit in a vulnerable place. When you’re cut off from the passivity of the familiar, suddenly a whole new world of options are opened before you. There are no schedules to keep up with, no obligations to meet. Those will likely develop quickly, of course, but in the beginning, when life has finally, mercifully, slowed down the prospects of a clean slate leave me excited. What will we finally do that we’ve been dreaming of but lacked the time? What lies in wait for our fragile hearts?
It’s terrifying and exciting and wonderful. A tightly woven ball of “What if?” What if we had the time to finally do that? What if we were closer to finally participate in this? What if we finally set aside the resources to accomplish that dream? What if we watched in grand expectation and looked for the miracles?
While the in-between has given me a touch of vertigo, unsure of which way to turn, it’s also left me excited. I love what ifs. I love to see miracles happen and for the first time in a long time, I’m finally watching for them.
“Change is the handmaiden Nature uses to do her miracles with.”
Have you seen any miracles lately? Let’s share and all join in the excitement!
“For I know the plans I have for. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11