Monday, June 18, 2007

Thoughts on Home - Part One - Listening

Some rambling thoughts on "home" today. I have a few things regarding this topic that I have been wanting to write about, so I think I will do this over the next few posts. Today's post is a bit of a twist on the theme, but an important key, to me, all the same.

I was discussing with my family when I was up visiting Minnesota a few things I had been musing about around the idea of "home." They and many of my friends up there know the challenging time I have had with this adjustment to Florida and so I am often asked how things are going and am I liking it any better? Well, yes, I am. Why I am seems to be an intriguing question for myself, because, from the outside, nothing has changed and I have wondered how it came to be?

First, it seems to be that I have been here long enough, finally, not to feel in "crisis mode." This time took me a lot longer than any move ever has before, I think. If you have moved any place for a rather short period of time, this theory may seem clearer to you.

Shortly before I turned 20, I moved from Minnesota back to South Carolina where I had lived the 5 years before my family made the move to MN. My family had fallen on some very hard times and I decided to move back down to SC to live with some friends I had gone to high school with and possibly take advantage of working in a college town (Columbia). I also figured I'd be one less mouth to feed. While my time there holds a few good memories, mostly I was pretty miserable. I was away from my family and struggled to make enough money for both food and rent. I was there for a mere 10 months before I decided to go back home. In those 10 months, though, I have stories upon stories to tell. Everything is quite vivid to me and it seems much longer in memory than 10 months. I was in crisis mode.

Fast-forward a few years into the future when I am happily settled with my husband and growing family back in Minnesota where my entire extended family - as well as my husband's - lived. I was content. Holidays ran together. "Was that last 4th of July or the year before?" It was hard to remember. Time flies when not only are you having fun, but when you are comfortable, familiar and at peace with your surroundings. I was not having to learn new radio stations. I was not having to find where the post office, library, hair salon, a good pediatrician's office, the peanut butter in the grocery store - everything - was!

So it has taken time, because in addition to the new location, I have moved into a new sub-culture. This is the part that has taken the longest to adjust to. But I have,to an extent, made those adjustments and now that I no longer feel in crisis mode, other parts of my life - inner and outer - begin to flourish again. It's like when someone is trying to lose weight or stop smoking. A certain amount of calm, order, and familiarity must be in place in order to do these things.

So it is, I think, with creativity. And creativity - in its many, many forms - is an expression of our selves as well as a reflection of our Creator. It is also, for me, an expression of connection I feel with God. I read a quote recently that read, "Who we are is God's gift to us. Who we become is our gift to God." I think I felt that I'd lost some of that ability. Somehow I'd lost some of that ability to give back - to glorify God by being fully and wholly who He'd made me to be. At least that's how I felt. And while I know that He has never been away from me in these challenging few years I have sometimes - often times - felt quite alone, because I was continually reacting to the new environment and the new culture and therefore had little time, it seemed, to relax into or truly connect with me - the creative, confident & curious part of me that I remembered, but couldn't seem to get back. I guess, the short of it is that I'd lost touch with my authenticity.

Being able to listen again has been, perhaps, the biggest leap this year. This is what seems to be the key. Every time I would listen and then act (the hymn, "Trust and Obey" springs to mind) it would open up new space for me to reconnect with my creative self, my authentic self, and ulitmately, Him. Continuing to trust God and trust that He will lead me down the path that He has for me, rather than the path He has for my neighbor or the paths of anyone else - even if that means doing things differently - is a piece that was missing. Listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit has led me away from trying to "fit" into places that didn't seem right to begin with. Listening has caused me to stop thinking about the "shoulds" I imagined "out there" and to begin doing the things necessary to care for the real needs "in here." Having the time and having the space to listen... and then having the courage to act has led me back to me. Back to trusting God even more and back to my authentic self.

Listening has brought me here. To this old place. To this new place. Listening has led me home.
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