Thursday, August 22, 2013

Painting Pictures of Egypt

After two moves in one year, I arrived in Florida last summer ready for a break… and some roots.  Having left nearly everything I know and love behind to follow my husband for a job, I worried that there would be something in Florida for everyone in my family, except me.

My husband and I have long desired to move to the northwest, drawn by the mountains, the trees, and the free-spirited people which that part of the U.S. seems to attract.  Our college and young married years in Nashville, Tennessee had nurtured an artistic, intellectual hunger in us, and our combined travels to various parts of the northwest had convinced us that this region was the next leg of our journey together.

But when my husband made the big career switch from teaching to sales, it was Sarasota, Florida- his old hometown- where the most promising job opportunity opened up.  As we prayerfully accepted the job in Florida and made plans to move here last summer, I laid aside my application process to a grad school I had selected in Seattle, Washington.

Life started off full-throttle in Sarasota: hubby concentrating on the new career, the kids getting settled at their new school, and me… helping everybody do what they had to do.  For months I played the supporting role: listening to every detail about my husband’s job, volunteering at the kids’ school, researching local churches, figuring out where to shop.  We had boxes stacked in every corner of our rental home for months as I tried to negotiate three bedrooms and a bonus room full of stuff into a two-bedroom house (Half of it’s now stashed in the garage.).  I had three people depending on me for their every need… and no friends.

But friends can be made.  And, as I continued to stay involved in my family’s lives, I met people and did just that.

One of the first people I met had moved here with her family a month before us, pregnant, with three other kids under the age of five!  She shared my feelings of anxiety about trying to adapt to a new town and the conundrum of trying to find a place of worship that in any way resembled the innovative churches we were accustomed to in the “Bible Belt.”  Another friend moved here with her family around the same time as us from gray, rainy Seattle.  I told her they were crazy for leaving and she said we were crazy for wanting to go… but we both agree there’s nothing quite like mountains.  I've found a valued friend in a childhood pal of my husband’s whose early years of married life resembled mine and who I admire for being strong like me, but in many opposite ways.  I bonded quickly with an older-sister-friend whose warm heart and hospitable spirit inspire me every time we meet.  And then there's our neighbor who voluntarily mowed our yard for us until we could get a mower of our own….

There are amazing people everywhere. 

But that’s what makes moving so difficult.  They say "home is where the heart is," but my heart is spread across multiple zip-codes.  I have dear friends and family and familiar things where I used to live that I’ve had to leave behind.  I miss the music of Nashville.  I long for the progressiveness of Atlanta.  It’s hard to leave a place where you feel mastery and go somewhere where you know nothing.  It sucks to feel awkward.  It’s like being a fish out of water (…or in my case, a turkey at the beach?).  The longer I’ve been in Florida, the more I’ve realized how much it doesn't feel like home.  And, as a result, the more romanticized my memories of “home” have become.

Like the Israelites, who left the captivity of Egypt for the Promised Land, only to find themselves stuck in tents in the middle of the sandy desert, I’ve felt shipwrecked and homesick for what is familiar.  This isn’t where we thought we were going.  It’s not where we wanted to be.  I know there’s purpose to our time here, and we are certainly blessed here beyond measure.  I'll settle in and "bloom where I'm planted," no doubt about that.

Still... when the sun's in your eyes and the sweat's draining down your back, hot sand between your toes can really feel like sandpaper.


"Painting Pictures of Egypt"                                                      
"A Line in the Sand" by Debbie Miller
-by Sara Groves

I don’t want to leave here
I don’t want to stay
It feels like pinching to me either way
And the places I long for the most
Are the places where I’ve been
They are calling out me like a long lost friend

It’s not about losing faith
It’s not about trust
It’s all about comfortable
When you move so much
And the place I was wasn’t perfect
But I had found a way to live
And it wasn’t milk or honey
But then neither is this

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
'Cause the future feels so hard
And I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I've learned
And those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned

The past is so tangible
I know it by heart
Familiar things are never easy to discard
And I was dying for some freedom
But now I hesitate to go
I am caught between the promise
And the things I know

I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt
Leaving out what it lacks
'Cause the future feels so hard
And I want to go back
But the places that used to fit me
Cannot hold the things I've learned
And those roads were closed off to me
While my back was turned

If it comes too quick
I may not appreciate it
Is that the reason behind all this time in sand?
If it comes too quick
I may not recognize it
Is that the reason behind all this time in sand?



Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 
-Psalm 84:5, NKJV