I know three things about it so far:
It will be the year my first book releases.
It will be the year I move home.
And, I hope, it will be the year that I rest.
I think above all else, 2016 made me aware of how tired I feel. I’m not sure I’m supposed to confess that sort of the thing in a New Year’s blog post, but that’s the truth. I am tired.
In September this year, my dad and I attended the Harvester Island Wilderness Workshop, led by writer Leslie Leyland Fields. The workshop took place on her family’s island, off the coast of Kodiak, Alaska. There is no cell reception there and occasionally there is internet service, but only occasionally. It is amazing how God can speak when I turn my phone off for eight days.
I remember talking to my roommate, Devi, one night. She asked what I would do if I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. One of the things I said was I would move home. I’ve lived at least several states if not an ocean away from my family for the past eight years, I explained, and I am tired of being so far. I want to be able to see them on the weekends. I want to be able to go to birthday parties and Memorial Day bar-b-ques. I want to be able to hop in the car on a Saturday and have lunch with my mom and get pedicures with my sisters.
As the week in Alaska went on and in the weeks that followed, it became increasingly clear that God had spoken during that conversation.
So for the next few months I prayed and planned and finally, I set a date. Next week on January 12, I will leave Nashville and move to Austin. I will settle back into the Texas Hill Country where I am from. I’m going to live with one of my best friends from college, just a few minutes away from two of our other friends from college. Austin is an hour and half north of my parents, my older sister, brother-in-law and niece. And an hour and half south of my little sister and brother-in-law.
I will be smack dab in the middle of my family and near some of my oldest friends.
I moved to Nashville in fall 2009. I had recently turned 23 and knew absolutely nothing about the real world, though I thought I did. Nashville is the place of many things for me: Where I had my first, second and third jobs. Where I wrote my first book. Where I learned what grace really was. Where I met a group of friends I didn’t know I would so desperately need as I navigated my twenties. Where I fell more deeply in love with red wine and learned I like some types of beer too. Where I had hard conversations and realized I have a lot of work to do on myself.
If my late teens and early twenties were spent grappling with belief in God and where I stood in my faith, Nashville is the place where I grappled with who God really is and if that’s different from how I’d always pictured him to be.
For some reason, when I imagine moving back to Texas, I don’t see it as an adventure as much as I see it as a much-needed nap. I imagine moving into my new room in Austin, lying down on my bed and falling asleep.
The past couple of years have worn me out. Writing a memoir and starting a freelance business are two of the reasons for this, and hope is the other.
Though I didn’t feel it on a day-to-day basis, I think writing such a personal story and knowing that I would be sharing it with the world has taken a lot from me physically and even more from me emotionally. Venturing into freelance writing, pitching myself and my work, spending time in excel sheets and Googling questions about taxes has been educational and necessary but also exhausting at times.
Have you ever looked up and realized you have been hoping for something for so long that you are actually physically tired of it? Hoping has just plain worn you out? And instead of one more prayer or one more push toward the thing, all you want to do is lie down?
That’s how I feel. And giving myself permission—because I do feel like I had to give myself permission—to move home has felt like the largest step toward rest and reprieve that I could possibly take. And I am grateful for it.
I want to do two things in Texas in 2017. I want to write and I want to rest. I want to write as much as I can, and I want to lie low and spend time with the people I love and the God I love. I don’t have many more dreams than that. I don’t feel the need to make a lot of new friends or build up a new community. I don’t care all that much about “getting plugged in” at a church. I would like to attend a church, but I want to sit on the back row, and I want to leave when the sermon is over.
I know this won’t last forever. This desire to hunker down and close the door. But this is where I find myself in 2017, at the beginning of a new road that will begin with rest.
So if you are out there feeling more weary than dreamy about this new year, I am with you on that. Perhaps this can be a year of rest for you too. And perhaps the rest will lead to restoration and perhaps the restoration will lead to hope.