I have never been one those adventurous souls who loves taking risks, making big changes, creating a new normal for the thrill of it and so on. I thrive on routine and structure. Making a plan is such a calming thing to do. Beyond the token holidays that are filled with festivities and décor, another favorite day of the year for me is July 1st. Why, you ask? That is the day that office stores put out on display their 12-month calendars for teachers (they run July to July). Oh, the joy of a new calendar. Fresh lines, blank spaces, a world of opportunities waiting to be documented. And, add in highlighters to color code activities and Post-It notes, you’ve got yourself a wild and crazy planning party.
I’d say that the other end of the routine spectrum is spontaneity. Closely aligned with that, would be the “go-with-the-flow” ability. It is safe to say that spontaneity is not in my wheelhouse, nor is “flowing” with things that require a plan (as I feel all things do most of the time). Although, this is the way I lean, that doesn’t mean I am incapable of being spontaneous. I can be and I have been, but it is not a regular occurrence. I recall a time in my early 20s when I was working with teenage girls in our church as a youth leader. We were having a pool party extravaganza. I told my co-leader that we should tell the girls to all jump in at once and make a big splash. It will be fun and “spontaneous.” I proceeded to tell our crew of girls to line up around the pool, hold hands, and wait for me to count to three and then we would jump in and make a splash. My co-leader grinned, fully aware that this was me attempting to be spontaneous. All I could do was embrace this me moment and grin back at her after I realized why she was so entertained. It’s true. I need organization in my life. Some might even say, I need control. It’s not so much the situations I want to control, it is the outcome of those situations. Yes, splashes can be made, but I need to prepare for them and make sure I come back up from the deep, blue depths.
I recently embarked on an adventure of grandiose proportions with my husband and daughter. We moved out of state…from TN to NC. This means new…everything. New jobs. New home. New neighbors. New church. New pre-school. New Mexican restaurant. Oh Lord in Heaven, please let them have great queso & salsa like our little place down the road. New doctors. New hairstylist. Oh Lord in Heaven, please let them understand my natural highlights and work with them as they cover my gray strands of wisdom. New grocery store. New roads and interstates. The list continues.
As with anything I write, I try to come from a true, raw perspective. I’ve known we were going to move for a few months now, but have hesitated to write about it because of the level of anxiety attached to it. When I first started this blog, I told myself that the only way it would truly reflect me was if I allowed myself to be honest about living a Christian life riddled with a lot of anxious moments all the while struggling to hold a firm grip on my determination to be a positive, joyful, optimistic person. So, for all you “new is scary” folks out there, allow me to be your mouthpiece.
Once we decided to take this leap of faith in moving…a move we felt led by God to do, my thoughts immediately started spinning in many varied directions. There are days when I am beyond excited for this new adventure and days where I want to hug my calendar, embrace my lists, and run to the nearest landmark I know. I want to have breakfasts, lunches, and dinners will all the amazing people the Lord has put in our lives during the almost 10 years we have lived in Tennessee. I want to take walks, go shopping, and just sit with the people who make me laugh the most. Though I realize that miles do not determine the sanctity and validity of friendships, I still find it hard to breathe at times knowing I left people I love…people I am used to seeing on a regular basis. I have to remind myself that I was once new in TN. God led, He provided, and we were blessed. Of course, every moment had not been a celebratory occasion, but even in our obstacles, we have learned and we have grown. So, I have been telling myself that God goes before me. He proves Himself time and again when we trust Him.
I am a big proponent of The Message Bible. It changed the way I studied God’s word. It helped scripture come alive and become applicable in my life. Being someone who loves words, I relished in having this version as a guide to what I was reading. And so, when it came time to find a scripture, I found this little gem in Deuteronomy 1:8 (MSG).
It states, “God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; He won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.” Those words shall be on repeat in my life’s soundtrack over the next few weeks and months.
I’d like to acknowledge also that for people like me (the worriers, the anxious, the take-a-deep-breath-it’ll-all-work-out-proclaimers), change does not have to unveil itself as a massive life altering event in order for stress and fear to ensue. Change is an obligatory trigger for uneasiness and apprehension for the people in our faction. Let’s forget the life altering process of moving states for a moment and focus on smaller matters at hand. I waited for months and months to upgrade my email account from the “classic” layout I was so accustomed to seeing and interacting with. New font. New color scheme. New positioning of tabs. Ugh – the chaos! Notice the word NEW again. Many people see that word and probably think of something being shiny, untethered, fresh. Sure, ok, I agree those are synonymous words, but new also means by definition, “just beginning, beginning a new, regarded as better than what went before it.” See, that is what gets me. What if my attempt to jump into the NEW does not turn out to be better than what went before it.” Hello insecurity, it’s me, Farrell. So, for the sake of all involved, let’s just use the “classic” version of email for a little while longer. Let’s just use the “classic” version of life for the time being.
The hardest part of admitting this kind of anxiety is that there will be a majority of people that cannot relate. I have friends in my life who wake up hoping new things happen to them…anticipating and awaiting change. They seek out risky adventures. Oh, the horror. But, I also know that by being true to who I am and how I feel will hopefully help others that deal with this type of roller coaster emotions when it comes to change, will connect with me and what I have to say. There is so much freedom in knowing other people are in the same boat as you or at least in a similar nautical situation. I have to return to the scripture…my shining diamond amidst my fog of anxiety. “He won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.”
I dare say that I will never leap into the arms of change like it is a long-lost friend. But, what I am focused on doing is to shake the hand of change, look at it eye to eye, smile, breathe deeply, and embrace the realm of possibilities that could await me if I trust in myself and in God’s guiding hand.
Whether your NEW involves an enormous U-Haul truck such as my story or another life altering moment that will shake your distressed mind, take heart. I do not believe that the Lord is trying to pull out the rug from under your feet or from under mine. Do we like change? No! Does it cause us to eat antacids and put cold, soothing compresses on our faces? Yes! But, as much as it pains me to admit this, I am convinced that there are wonderful, amazing things that only NEW can bring to our lives. Just remember to press that repeat button…“He won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry.”