I packed the last odd lampshade and shoved that one scarf that was stuck behind the couch into my van and drove out to Westmont on Monday. I was not prepared for the rush of emotions that hit me driving out of the city. We have called Chicago home for 13 years minus our stint on a distant shoreline. The whole story of our marriage and having kids unfolded in this challenging yet amazing city. At first a few tears came but by the time I passed Swedish Cov hospital where we welcomed Annikah I had to pull over on the side of the road because I was overwhelmed by the FULL ON ugly cry. I am mourning the loss of a great love in my life: living in the city. Well, I simultaneously love and hate it but there is a common bond formed by the mamas on the playgrounds who nod at each other and just get it. They get what it is like to carry 5 bags of groceries from 4 blocks away (because there was street cleaning or some such nonsense making parking anywhere near your home elusive) and holding the hands of multiple children while you try to cross Ashland Ave and NOT get killed. They get what navigating Chicago Public Schools means and they appreciate a new grocery store or the convenience offered by a drive by anything. But they also embrace jumping on the El and ending up in Chinatown for lunch or a lazy morning spent at the beach. They know how to work the museum city pass and can decide last minute to pop over to MSI and they totally get their hallelujah on when the line at the post office is less than 15 deep. They know the richness of multiple languages and cultures sharing much too scarce public spaces. It is messy but my favorite kind.
But here is the thing: I know God has asked us to move here for a time but if I am honest it is far from my preference. But I know Him well enough to know that if He calls I go. Whenever, where ever. A taste of life with Him is better than all my planning and scheming. The more I try to follow after Him the more I am convinced it is not about doing “the right thing” or being in a certain place but doing the thing He calls you to and then waiting to hear and being quick to obey the next thing. Because staying in Africa when He asks to move on isn’t obedience. Because living in the city because you think it is more hardcore means you have a chip on your shoulder and pride is sneaking in again. Beware of telling God “i’ll never…” because chances are He will ask you to do the dot dot dot. He is sneaky about wanting you to depend on Him and not yourself like that. He doesn’t like when we think we have it all figured out. I’m so grateful God hasn’t given up on me because I am a mess ALL THE TIME. Trust and rest in Him are needed as we take this step to follow where we think He is calling. I’m still struggling to do that in the everyday but we heard so we moved TO THE FREAKIN’ SUBURBS! I got lost (because really getting lost is a special gift of mine) trying to get coffee yesterday and ended up in a scary and weirdly huge strip mall parking lot crying. We go out for our morning run/bike and we are like the ONLY people out. It is quiet and different and right now I just can’t imagine this ever feeling like home. But I remember this same feeling not too long ago only the homes around us where made of mud and rock and the people all spoke a different language. Obviously the suburbs are not that different and we share a language (although I think I already freaked out a few people with my inappropriate comments…yikes) but adjusting to change and newness takes time and it. is. painful. It means making yourself vulnerable again, being incompetent, and asking for help. I do not like these things. I actually like being the one to help others but yet again God has asked me to get over myself and receive and make a new place my home. Until He calls us to the next thing.
It also helps that people have stopped by with flowers, a basket with bread and wine, and amazing enchiladas and… wait for it…homemade margaritas for dinner last night. Fo’ reals y’all! I also saw a similarly clueless mama in line for school registration yesterday and pretty much accosted her and found our she just moved here too and we already exchanged numbers and are set for a date next week. It was sorta pathetic really. Like picture an elementary age girl asking “Will you be my friend?” Yeah, I pretty much said that. We just rode bikes to Anni’s new school and met the secretaries and the head of maintenance and they were all so kind and welcoming. Anni even met another little girl going into 3rd grade that filled her in on the lunchroom scoop and said she would help her the first day. I also was in the kitchen unpacking and listening through the window to the girls and Jason playing catch in the backyard and catching fireflies and that was sorta awesome.
The girls and I rode bikes to a concert in the park and even though we got there late we got front row dibs and spent the next hour dancing like fools.
This is how we do: toasting to change and our new digs.
I am reminded again that every time I am out of my comfort zone I rely more on Him to show up. Because I need Him to. I think I am exceptionally weak which is why He teaches me this lesson over and over again. Last night we prayed through every room in our home and asked God to use us and this place for His glory. Annikah was taking a while in her room so I quietly climbed the stairs thinking I would find her playing or distracted and I saw this. Her dirty feet sticking out from under bended knee asking God for small and big things and trusting that He hears her. And I wanted to cry because once again I am reminded by my children to trust that when we ask He shows up. That when we seek more of Him He delights in answering. It doesn’t mean the answers will come in our time or be easy but we can be confident that when we are weak; no especially when we are weak, He shines through.
So I’m rockin’ the suburbs (please visit..like PLEASE),