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I just returned from my first visit back to Nashville since I moved to Austin in January. I haven’t really written about this move since then. I got here and immediately I finished up edits on the book, got the launch team going, went to Israel for a couple of weeks, came back, geared up for release time. Etc. Etc.
Now that it’s done, I’ve had a chance to step back, take a breath and think about it.
It was strange. When my plane was landing in Nashville, I teared up a little. I had missed the city that had been my home for seven years. But by the time I had exited the concourse and was walking through the airport I’ve walked through dozens of times, I forgot I didn’t live there anymore. I switched into “I’m home” mode and had to remind myself as I waited for my luggage, “Wait, I don’t live here anymore.”
At the same time, it doesn’t really feel like I live in Austin either. I forget how long it takes to settle into a city. To be there long enough to get familiar with the highways and back roads, what areas to avoid during rush hour. (In Austin, that’s every area, and rush hour is all hours.)
Getting to know the rhythm of a city takes time and discovering your place in it takes even longer. Friends, where your favorite happy hour spot it, favorite pizza place, favorite running trail. All of those things are still question marks for me. Austin, to me, is only a wee seven months old.
Being in Nashville last week made me realize that yes, there’s no place like home, but also, sometimes no place feels like home. And what do we do in the in between? When we are post-home and pre-home, somehow, in between home?
It’s such an uncomfortable place, when you are landing but have not yet landed. I think the Andrea in her twenties would have found her way by forcing it. Getting involved in every little thing, volunteering, joining a small group and a women’s Bible study. Setting coffee and lunch dates whenever possible. Going to an event or party she didn’t actually want to go to but felt like she had to.
This isn’t how 31-year-old Andrea is. I’ve been taking this move at a glacial pace compared to my others. I haven’t “joined” anything. I haven’t gone out a whole lot. I haven’t even hung curtains in my room, though this has more to do with the age of my drywall than it does my lack of desire to nest.
I guess I’m doing what I said I would, but it’s still been uncomfortable at times. This knowing I am not supposed to be in my former city yet still wondering why I am in my current one.
This feeling does not only occur when we move, does it? The between feeling is usually occurring in one area of life or another: between jobs, between dreams, between relationships, between hopes.
Perhaps the worst part of feeling between home is also the best part. I cannot make a place home; it can only happen with time. In this, I have had to release—almost daily—a lot of the control that makes me feel good, comfortable and accomplished. Every time I get lost. Every time I find myself feeling a little bit lonely. Every time somebody tells me what neighborhood she lives in and I have no idea where it is. These are all reminders that this isn’t home yet, and I can’t make it be so overnight.
This is prime ground for God to work in, the ground that we have no tools or means to work in ourselves, the ground that we cannot force to futility. I have felt him here in the between home in a way I haven’t felt him elsewhere. I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s like, he’s just here. This steady presence, not speaking very loudly or doing any big amazing things, but somehow I feel that he is at work, digging, planting, sowing. In a way that only he can do.
Have you felt this?
There has been more peace in this between home season than I have felt for a long, long time. That doesn’t make sense, which is how I know I have finally left my field to the one who should be working it.
When I went back to Nashville last week and drove on the familiar highways and back roads, it felt good to be there, but I also knew that God had moved my story somewhere else. It was time to look out the car window and say goodbye, and when I landed back “home” in Austin, I felt like, for the first time, I could really say hello.