This past weekend was full to the brim. The kind of full where you are racing to start the day to get to one thing only to then be late to the next. I arrived in Nashville so excited I screamed when I got in the car, and then screamed again when I stepped into my house. I swear my parent’s home gets more magical with every visit. I ended up surprising a Thursday night group with much more screams and thrills. That night was all too unexpected with many hugs and confusing welcome backs. I proceeded the night with a dear high school friend at a new coffee shop. The conversation was light hearted and funny as usual, and then got down to the grittiness of what was going on in her heart. I couldn’t help but have feelings of sympathy and longing for her to know that everything will soon be okay.
The following morning was an early drive to pick up a friend in Birmingham for lunch; which then proceeded as one of those days full and yet spilling over with reunions and hour-to-hour catch ups. I remember everything about this day. The soup savored, the conversation over tea with a few store pop-ins as different people, acting as you call it, and a walk with a friend through lush greens proceeded by more hugs and reunions. I ended this short but overwhelmingly wonderful day over tacos and margaritas with a friend whom I am deeply proud of. I celebrate her as she prepares for many changes in her life. After a car ride of yet more surprise that rocked emotions, I had time to reflect on that day. I realize it was a day to drop everything to celebrate or absorb in the midst of the present-whatever it holds. The days of the weekend consisted of remembrance, surprise, heartache, understanding, stories, openness, laughter, and festivity all in one. All of these reactions intertwined and all of them completely engaged in. Life is just like that. In fact, my time in Maine has taught me more about relationships and relating. As I was listening to a friend and his time in New York, I related in more ways than one. I saw that the Lord uses isolation to teach you a lot about becoming. The routines of life are far different now than they have ever been and the lessons learned are far greater than I ever thought.
It’s taken me some vulnerability to realize things I’m discovering in Portland, while also wishing I had opened my ears and eyes more than I did when I started this move. This past weekend confirmed this epiphany. When
I say I love it, it is no less than the truth. And I have honestly never felt so comfortable with a move in my life. I guess it was time in life to be okay with moving.
There came a point after the exhilaration of exploring the streets where I started to feel a tad bit of that isolation already mentioned. I talk to many people throughout the day, in art galleries, in my building, etc., but there was a point, and I can’t exactly put my finger on what day, but I started to feel really far away. I mean like 2,000 miles away.
I think it was one day as I was walking on the eastern promenade, a very common walk for me, where it was super quiet. I might of seen one or two people cross my path. Sometimes you need that quiet. But this quiet was that strange, winter quiet, almost numb.
I’m not usually one to voice what is hardest, mostly because if I talk aloud about it, it is more real. And once I do people start to question whether I like it here and it can be complicated to explain to someone who has never experienced it. For the record: I love it here. A lot.
Okay, yes, the start of living alone in a new city not knowing anyone is harder than I probably say it is – but then saying that it sounds harder than it really is. Make sense? It’s been a pretty medium transition. I was questioning what my purpose was here in Maine. I knew I loved being here and I knew I felt so good with the move at first – sometimes we (meaning me) can be so impatient with what the Lord already has planned so we try hard to conjure up our own, and then that leaves us a little more empty than if we just listened in the first place. But hey, its how we learn and grow, too. I started thinking about Jonah. And I was confused as if I was acting like him. Was I running from his call? I was confused if I ran away from God’s plan and went my own way—and if I needed a fish to swallow me up for me to see it or not. But I knew I loved it here and I felt good about everything at first, so the confusion kept on.
The books I carried with me are very limited and among those few I have cold tangerines and bittersweet. I started re-reading and re-listening to bittersweet as I worked out every night. Man it’s just so good. The chapter on “learning to swim” hit hard. It reminded me of what I felt when I left my friends in Birmingham or my friends at camp- a feeling of treading out in the water. Feeling like something huge let me loose and I was missing my friends so badly it hurt.
I read a couple favorite verses that lead me to think about my transition.
“…They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8
“Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. The LORD will guide you always. He’ll satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. He’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places-you’ll be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58
There is restoration here even when it feels cold and dry. I knew my friends and family were all over the place and I was [and still am] stoked that the Lord has us where he wants us. It’s one of the things in life I get super, jump up and down, smile till it hurts, happy about -seeing friends realize their gifts and passions and move towards them. It’s a gift to see and be apart of. It’s one of those moments to stop in the midst of whatever is happening- to celebrate. I was celebrating friends as I was crashing against waters, and it felt completely right.
As I was not feeling so good about the thought of waiting to reconnect at the end of May, I started opening up to a friend about feeling pressure to have everything settled. My first illustrations for a children’s book were done. And volunteering seriously fills more spaces than anything, but was that my purpose here, I was unsure.
It took me time to go through lent, to turn focus off myself daily and give love out of whatever day I was having. It took me some studying on Jonah and learning how to float with these waves, to allow the changes to carry me. I realized that I was feeling these emotions in the midst of Lent – a very transitional period in time and in season, as mentioned in posts before. Everything was coming together and I knew that I had to transition and it was okay to question and study about the changes – that they are good and The Lord will back me up, because I knew in my heart, in my bones, I was supposed to live here for a bit. And I knew it wasn’t one of those dreams I made myself think and believe for it to be true, I knew I loved Maine the first time I came. I just had to be patient with my actual place here.
So back to talking to this friend. She told me to listen to the song “oceans” - I thought, ahh why not listen to it again. Then it hit me. This “being called out upon the water – great unknown – where feet may fail” “where trust is without boarders, let me walk upon the waters – wherever you may call me”
Yes. Allowing him to call me to obedience. [Jonah’s disobedience lead him to the water, while my impatience lead me] And following even in the deepest waters my trust is being made stronger.
It was perfect. It described it.
My daily walks are by the marinas and Maine beaches – it’s my little place of peace.
It all became reassurance in a time of treading. A time of reflection and of prayer. So yes, there was a moment when I did feel lonesome here. And naturally anyone would. And allowing you to know that there was a major struggle in finding my rhythm…that I had at the beginning, and then slowly lost as I reevaluated my trust and security… is pretty vulnerable for me. I never doubted the Lord would use me and I still don’t. I am just learning to take change for what it is. I needed to remember that when I feel as though I am treading or sinking with pressure, I could float. When all I see is water, I know the Lord is leading. When I feel numb and dry, I can be a tree by water. I can be a well-watered garden I just cannot let my vision be blurred. And I cannot squish the feelings by pretending they are not there, that won’t make them go away and won’t benefit their lessons. I can face it because I know I call on His name and my soul is at rest. Always.
This is a little testimonial about my first two months here.
I have never for one day or one second stopped loving this place. Myself got in the way of realizing WHY I love it, not questioning IF, but WHY.
I realize after all this that I have a tendency to make my thoughts so complicated. But I just have to find the simple ways the spirit reveals to me my place here and anywhere I may go, at that. Appreciating what to sink into for reflection, and what to burst out of with celebration. This is a constant revelation in my daily walks with faraway friends. So why I love Maine…
I love it for the lack of churches, & being the least church city in the US. I love it for the coastal city it is. I love that it surprises me daily. I love that people here are so inviting and interested about my move. I love meeting new friends young and old. I love feeding lunch to kids in the afternoon and reading them superhero stories before naptime. I love that they call me “dea”. I love the way the weather can change from rain to sun to snow to bright sunset all in one day. I love talking to the lady at the front desk, every weekend since the first day I stepped through the door. I love seeing the lady that swims laps when I work out- on the bus every Sunday as I am headed to church. I love going down to the pier and talking to the fishermen and sailors. I love the way the puddles reflect the bluest of skies. I love getting to know friends here and seeing how our stories connect. I love the way the Lord reminds me of his promises as the sunrise wakes me with its rays through my window. I love walking on the east or west by the water and seeing people play with their dogs on the beach. I love how the Lord called me here and I love the fact that I can volunteer at my church as we welcome people who have never been to church before. I love the challenges I am facing; yes I love them, too.
I’m learning to not allow the changes and anxiety push me away and numb me. I am learning to feel them for whatever they are. They are given to me, so I will take what is given for the better.
When I leave this place I will miss Maine one day, too.
Transitions, its like floating, letting go of resistance- I’m just turning to the voice I hear and feel when the wind picks up and ripples across waters.
“The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; (which is the deepest part of the oceans) the earth with her bars was about me forever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.” – book of Jonah
“I’ve learned the hard way that change is one of God’s greatest gifts and one of his most useful tools. It can show us who we’ve become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways…In many cases change is not a function of life’s cruelty but instead a function of God’s graciousness. If you dig in and fight the changes, they will smash you to bits. They’ll hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you. But if you can find it within yourself, in the wildest of season, just for a moment, to trust in the goodness of God, who made it all and holds us all together, you’ll find yourself drawn along to a whole new place, and there’s truly nothing sweeter…take a breath and begin to swim. Begin to let the waves do their work in you.” – Shauna
This past weekend consisted of verbalizing the changes while the past two months were realizing and learning how to float, instead of force. It wasn’t the easiest realization, but I am thankful for it. I’ve learned to accept and wait for the unfolding as it comes. No more gripping my fists but more of God’s mission and presence. Here I am, letting the waves carry me while friends are starting to step into the water. My soul wants to burst as I think of my dearest friends discovering gifts and talents and places to go. Of jobs, graduation, opportunity, and weddings. I am thankful they too can celebrate with me wherever they are, just like this past weekend. celebration, leaning in, listening and surprising. It’s time to celebrate and it’s time to change. Jump in, the water feels fine.