Dan and I both have been offered jobs somewhere. And we have accepted them. In a couple weeks, we are leaving Tallahassee. I’m sorry for the vagueness but my compulsion to blog is way too strong to ignore, despite still being in that weird limbo state of Am I allowed to say anything? Do all the right people know yet? Is it okay for me to put this on the Internet without offending someone or, worse, getting someone fired?
Since I don’t know the answers to all of those questions yet, I’ll be brief about the details for now. But what I will say is this:
- Where we are going is somewhere neither of us ever dreamed we’d go. It’s also not central Florida like we’d originally planned.
- The jobs we have taken are not jobs we could have secured ourselves. They are jobs that, without getting too spiritual on you, were definitely divinely gifted to us.
- The place we’re going starts with the same letter as Nineveh which makes me LOL because I’m still 100% Jonah. (Side note: this place, however, is NOTHING LIKE NINEVEH. I REPEAT. NOTHING. At least, not as far as I could tell when we visited. There may be big fish, though, within an uncomfortable proximity.)
Yesterday at church — a community in which I’ve served, grown, and transformed over the past nine years — I sat, surrounded by a handful of my friends, and listened as my pastor (and dear, dear friend) gave a simultaneously hope-filled and despairing message on what it means to be in exile. That is, what it means to have everything you know about life completely change in an instant.
In just a couple weeks, that’s us. Everything we know about life is going to change in an instant. (Or, rather, in one long day of driving and unpacking.)
As Eric spoke, the walls started closing in on me. My chest tightened with unrelenting grief and, before he even hit his first point, the tears were flowing. I couldn’t help it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a mom now so I’m biologically wired to uncontrollably sob at anything, or if it’s because the reality that we are moving away was just too heavy, or if it was because hearing Eric’s voice in that building reminded me that soon I won’t be able to hear his voice in that building, or if it was because I’m Jonah, or if it was a combination of it all. But once the first tear fell, I couldn’t stop the rest of them from following. I just sat in that chair and cried for the better (worse?) part of an hour, mourning the loss of everything I know and trembling at the impending gain of exile.
But this “exile” isn’t bad. Dan and I wouldn’t have accepted these jobs if it were. It’s a HUGE blessing. I’ve no doubt that the manna will spring up in abundance while we are in this “wilderness”. But it is wilderness none the less. It is an unfamiliar place, devoid of the support network I’ve built up over the past decade.
And I am in mourning. Bad.
The thing about exile, though, is that (again — sorry about the spiritual stuff) when you read the bible, both the Israelites and Jesus experienced exile before blessings. The first thing Jesus did after getting baptized was peace out for 40 days and listen to Satan say terrible things to him. And don’t get me started on the row the Israelites have hoed. Oy. I feel like the biggest toolbox for even trying to draw a connection to what they’ve been through.
All that to say, I bet if you could Google Maps it, or ask Siri how to get there, you’d find that you’ve got to go through the wilderness to get to the promised land.
So, bring it on, exile. And Nineveh. We’ve got work to do. (Also, bring it on Kleenex. You’ve got your work cut out for you.)