Yesterday, I shared that this week marks one year since we moved from Orlando to Grand Rapids, and I started sharing some of the things I’ve learned over that time. You can read part one of the list here. Here’s part two!
I learned that to put my identity in Christ, I may need to remove whatever other things I’ve put my identity in. I’ve been pretty honest about my struggles with transition to a stay-at-home mom. For most of my life up to this point, my identity was in work, accomplishment, productivity, and influence. Motherhood messes with all of that. At the same time, misguided attempts to put my identity in motherhood come up empty, because it is NOT easy to feel successful at parenting. For years I have talked about putting my identity in Christ as opposed to other things, but this is the year I finally started figuring out how to do it. I’m still muddling my way through all this.
I learned that “discontent” is often a manifestation of fear and worry. I wrote more about that here.
I learned that “hard” and “good” are not mutually exclusive. When we were getting ready to move, everyone said, “This will be so good for your marriage! You’ll just have each other, so you’ll be so close!” Well, this has been the hardest year of our marriage by far. Admittedly, I sometimes want to go back to a year or two ago when marriage felt easy. But all of this required more and better communication, a closer consideration of the other person’s needs, and a willingness to change and adapt to the changes in one another, as well as the changes in our circumstances. So, what’s been hard has also been good for us.
I learned that it in hard seasons, it helps to have something to look forward to. I looked forward to Leo’s birth, to Christmas, to family visits, to going to Hope Spoken. Other times, I have looked forward to a book release or an episode of Gilmore Girls while the boys napped. This breaks of the monotony of being home with the boys, and like Gretchen Rubin says in The Happiness Project, anticipating something for awhile makes it all the more enjoyable when it finally happens. In the midst of a hard day, looking forward to something helps me remember, “Not every day is this way.”
I’ve learned that God’s presence can be felt in so many places (even if they seem weird). Because we loved Summit so very much, finding a new church has been one of the toughest things about this move. We knew that would be true, but we didn’t know how true it would prove to be. At some churches, we liked the worship but not the sermon, or visa versa. Sometimes we felt welcome, and sometimes we felt out of place. We tried liturgy and we tried…well, whatever the opposite of liturgy is. Of all the churches we tried, only once did we leave feeling truly uneasy and thinking, “Uh, that was uncomfortable. I don’t think that’s right.” Every other time, we felt God’s presence and left assured of the fact those people were following Jesus together…even if we didn’t “like” the Sunday experience. I’m so grateful for the reminder that church is NOT a presentation to consume, to like or dislike like a Facebook status, according to my personal preferences. Church is about following Jesus, together, and only sometimes does that happens inside a building on a Sunday. I believed that and had experienced it before, but church-hopping illuminates it in a new way. Almost any place we showed up on Sunday, we knew God was there.
I learned that being a neighbor means being generous in unexpected ways. In Orlando, Evan and I had only lived in apartment complexes, and we never got to know our neighbors. The greatest and most tangible gift God has given us in Grand Rapids is our fantastic neighbors. They are the people I know to call when I need a babysitter or a (literal) cup of sugar. They are generous in so many ways, like letting our toddler sleep in the guest room while we play a board game, or dropping off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or just walking across the street to say hi.
Tomorrow, I’ll share one final thing that I’ve learned over the past year.