Monday, April 16, 2012

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I moved to Chattanooga when I was 18, fresh out of high school.

There were so many things I wanted to leave behind and so many things I wanted to do with my life, including figure out who I was away from the small town that I had grown up in.

So I chose a school that was far enough away to be on my own, and close enough that I could still be close to the comfort of home.

But I never went back.

Eight years later, and I still live in Chattanooga--by choice.

And it has truly become home to me.

Yet this past weekend, I had to go back to the place I grew up to attend a wedding of a dear friend of mine.

You see, one of the good things about small towns is sometimes you get really lucky and get a group of friends that stay friends forever. You know, the kind people write books and movies and songs about.

I got really lucky.

I made a day trip of it; went home spent an hour or so with my parents, and then went to the wedding. After the wedding, I changed clothes, packed my bag and drove back to Chattanooga.

Yet on this trip, I realized something that has never occurred to me before.

Maybe it was the fact that it was so short and I had spent time with my friends and “family” in Chattanooga part of the day, and then I drove back to where I grew up and spent time with my family and friends from my child hood.

I realized that no matter where I was, I would always feel somewhat incomplete without the other part. 

My future cannot exist without the presence of my past. 

And likewise, my past will always be a reflection of my future.

I started the morning in my house in Chattanooga. Talking with a friend about love, and God, and the struggles and changes we go through as life gets older. About how God brings us to right where He wants us. About how we all have our own stories.

I drove to the same exit that I’ve taken for 8 years on holidays, weekends, and days that I am lonely and just need my mom.

I drove on back roads that I fell in love on when I was 15 years old. And something sparked in my heart, remembering and wondering how that girl ended up where she did.

I danced with friends that have grown, changed, married and are still the same loving, fun, and gentle people that have always loved me for who I really am.

I left the house that held me. For 18 years, that house held secrets, heartbreak, laughter, dancing and love.

And I drove back.

I realized that night, that part of my heart will always be there. 

Because it made me... me.

In that town, on those roads, with those people, in that house.

And part of my heart, will always be here.

In this city that forced me to grow up, allowed me to make mistakes, gave me dreams, and taught me grace.

It’s a strange feeling to feel like you have led two lives. The one, until a turning point in one place, and another life somewhere else; somewhere new, somewhere different.

If you have ever moved, you know this feeling.

If you’ve ever had a life change, you’ll understand.

Part of my heart will always be in my first apartment with my college roommate.

Part of my heart will always be where I grew up--chasing dreams, and a boy and back country roads.

And yet, today.. sitting here writing... my heart is here.

Chasing what’s next. Looking for where my heart is soon to land.

Seeking. Growing. Learning.

I realized that stories have chapters, and each chapter is relevant, necessary and vital to the way a story tells itself.

Part of me will always long for the other parts of me, the parts that I’ve dropped off in bits and pieces along the years...

That’s ok. They made me who I am. They bring something new every time I visit them, and they are pillars of the grace of God in my life over the years.

My heart is a story. Every place, every piece, every part makes me who I am... makes my story what it is.

There are days I want, and sometimes need, to relive some of those chapters.

Yet this story isn’t finished.

There will be more chapters written.

My singleness is a chapter.

So what I’ve learned, what I know and what I need... is to hold onto to those chapters deep in my heart, even when it aches.. for they ARE my story.

I must remember them and what they’ve taught me, to shape the woman God is making me to be.

After all, this story is for Him.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

To the Lonely and Bitter Single Sister..

Dear Lonely Girl,

You’re ok.

I know it doesn’t seem like it.

I know it hurts.

But the truth is: you’re ok.

You need to know that in a world full of your friends having boyfriends and going on dates and getting flowers and kisses all the time… you are truly ok.

That longing that you feel… it’s normal. And you are not the only one that feels it.

I know it seems like you are.

You aren’t.

I know the pain. True, physical, heart-wrenching pain.
I know the sadness. Depressed, angry, bitter sadness.
I know the desire. Consuming, overwhelming, debilitating desire.

I also know nothing changes while you sit in a puddle of tears.

Bitterness breeds resentment in yourself and towards your friends.

It kills love.

It drives out all happiness from your life and your heart.

That girl you wish you could be? Who’s happy and full of love and laughter?

She’s in your heart, begging you to stop being so angry and lonely and bitter and just… be.

A happy heart breeds confidence.

And there is nothing more attractive about a woman than one who is comfortable with who God has made her to be and where her heart lies.

Wallowing is easy.

You’re comfortable sitting in tears in your home, all alone, wishing and dreaming.

The hard part is getting up, telling that girl with tear stained cheeks staring back at you in the mirror she’s ok, and moving forward.

I am asking you to refuse to sit still any longer.

Pick yourself up.

We all long for someone to love us. We were made for relationship.

So find relationship.

Find girlfriends—single AND in relationship ones.

Single girlfriends share with each other and comfort one another.

Girlfriends in relationships teach you things, push you to grow and help you appreciate life and love.

Find God.

He is who you really long for.

Whether you are in a relationship or not, He is your true heart’s desire.

You are lonely because you long for home.

Boyfriend or not. Husband or not. This longing will never be fulfilled this side of Heaven.

When you stop wallowing in what you don’t have, and realize what you do, God can heal your heart and show you that His grace is beyond enough for your tired and lonely heart.

It’s ok to have bad days. We all have them.

So eat your ice cream if you want it, cry your tears if you need to, call your best friend or your mom and tell them how miserable you are.

Then pray, get up, and keep going.

It took me too long to realize that being the lonely, bitter single girl is a choice.

You do not have to live this way any longer.

You are free.

Christ died to make you free.

So be free.

You cannot change what once was.

Who you once were… is gone. Let.her.go.

You have a choice to change who you will be in the future.

And I promise you, no man is looking for a sad, bitter girl with a broken heart.

That man you long for is desperately searching for a confident woman whose heart is bursting with love.

She laughs without fear of the future because she knows who holds her future.

She clothes herself with strength and dignity.

She picks herself up and carries on because she knows that Jesus loves her and keeps her heart.

Find peace. Find love.

Then go out and spread it like a wildfire.

In Grace and Love,
A Single Sister