No it wasn’t. We just popped over one evening after dinner.
OK, seriously. It was a big change, but it was a good one. It was at a time in our life when we were ready for an adventure. While this may seem strange, I distinctly remember walking to my car on a Southern California afternoon and realizing, “I can live anywhere! Anywhere!”
There were the small discoveries that I wouldn’t have experienced had we had not moved:
- Sweet Tea – In California, we apply sugar to our tea manually while in North Carolina, sweet tea is made with a special method making it suitable for glucose tolerance tests.
- Snow – In California, we went to the snow when we wanted it and then left when we were done. Here, we watch the weather report to find out when the snow is coming to us.
- NASCAR – Ironically, this sport has become more popular with my California relatives than most of my friends in North Carolina. My relative, the Sports-Guy, records and watches the entire four hours though he admits it is only the last two minutes that really matter.
- Mountains – The Appalachian Mountains are very beautiful and I can jog the dogs off leash on a wooded trail near my house but in California these hills would be rated as pimples. On the other hand, they catch fire less frequently.
There are a lot of comparisons and contrasts that can be made – the climate, the accents (you stop hearing them after a while), the diversity (or lack thereof), the nearest Whole Foods, the sports teams you favor, and watching an old time gospel band instead of surf volleyball on the beach.
I used to overthink this a lot. I would feel sorry for myself because I knew I realistically could never return to my home town – so much has changed. Further, when I listened to locals talk about their family roots, I realized I really was not from around here. I wondered if I belonged, where I belonged.
Then God (or maybe a spark of sanity in my brain) metaphorically took me by the collar, gave me a good shaking and said, “You live here! Get over it.” And I realized that where I live probably doesn’t matter as much as I was making it.
In many ways, maybe in the ways that really count, living here or there isn’t that different. If I stayed in California, I would be going to a different church, have different friends, put the portraits on a different wall, and pick up kale from a different farmer’s market. I would still have to maintain my best shot at a spiritual life, strive for a successful marriage without killing one other, hope I can be a voice of wisdom to the kids in an increasingly uncertain culture, and pay the bills with the money I have.
The reality of moving is that wherever I go, I have to take myself with me. I still have to learn the same lessons. I still have to grow up. But wherever I go, God is still a present help.
So says the Hebrew poet:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.