Saturday, July 5, 2008

LIFE IN CALIFORNIA // Life Outside Tennessee

I just closed out my first six months here. Last Sunday it came to mind that I originally thought I would stay here six months and then go back to Nashville for six months, and then do it all over again.

Man, I can’t imagine going back right now. No offense to all my friends in Nashville but I really just can’t imagine being there right now. (I also haven’t fully recovered from the long three-day drive out here and am certainly not ready to make that trek again anytime soon.)

I guess it was easy to consider a 6-month/6-month trade-off when I hadn’t lived here yet. But as I watched life unfold here and there (Nashville), I realized there was more to this story than just coming out to get some courses done in California.

I was fine with moving to California. I knew that it had to happen eventually. I just didn’t think January 2008 would be the time. I wasn’t overly excited but I was fine with it. I knew that it was God leading me, which gave me confidence. I believed it was part of the story that he’s telling through me. And even in the moments of doubt, peace came. When moments of doubt came, I would think about the alternative to moving: staying. And the thought of staying in the same situation, going to work everyday, doing schoolwork and filling in any gaps with freelance, church, friends, etc., filled me with dread and agony. The best way to say it is that if I had stayed, I would have been miserable. Not because I was anticipating something so great in California, but because I knew I was supposed to leave. So to stay would have been wrong.

Yet I didn’t fully understand what it meant to leave. It wasn’t just about being in school and working towards a different career path. It wasn’t so much about going as it was about leaving. And it took me a while to see and accept exactly what was up.

It was interesting to see how life unfolded back home shortly after I left. My church merged with another church, for one. The church I had been attending and done ministry with suddenly looked different and pretty foreign to me. That led to thoughts of perhaps staying in California longer than short-term. Then some different things happened in the life of my best friend and I was thousands of miles away and felt completely unable to help. It was so frustrating. I was frustrated with the situation and I was frustrated with God for taking me so far away at just the point that I felt I could be really useful. I didn’t get it. I was upset, confused, separated but I didn’t feel alone. I didn’t feel homesick. There was no regret. So I said, “God, tell me. Tell me what all this means. Because I have some mixed feelings.”

And God’s cool. He reminded me that he wanted me in California and that the idea of staying in Nashville didn’t sit right with me. I would think again about the option of staying in Nashville and I knew that wouldn’t have been right. I felt the question, “If you had known this would happen, if given the choice, would you have stayed?” And I answered confidently in him, “No, no, I still would have left. I could not stay.”

And so God led me to the perspective that this journey to California wasn’t about going. It was about leaving. Leaving the world as I knew it Nashville. And I began to feel that God was separating me from the life I had known. My identity for the last 10 years has been in the music industry. What I’ve done and how I’m known, as for many people, have been tied to my job, my career. At his right time in the story, he plucked me out of Tennessee and placed me in California. (Though I still don’t have a clear vision of why or what’s going to happen in place of this previous identity.)

Sometimes I feel selfish because I don’t pay as much attention to Nashville. There are moments I wish that I were closer to home. Where I could jump in the car and just road trip to Nashville real quick to comfort a friend – or comfort myself. But that’s simply not an option being in California. And planet tickets are flat expensive. So here I am for a reason. I’m learning. I’m learning to see seasons. I’m learning why Jesus came to Earth. I’m learning about church. I’m learning patience. I’m learning to rest. I’m learning how to be away. I’m learning how to study, to read. I’m learning how to build relationships from scratch (this one is hard and requires much patience). I’m learning that I’m OK being single. I’m learning about faith in future grace. I’m learning the importance of living today because I have no idea what the future holds. And it’s OK.

And if I were in Nashville, I wouldn’t be learning any of it.

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