A few years ago, I packed up my entire existence and moved it to my little house in the woods by the lake. That process took me through a wide range of emotions. Some of it puzzled me. Here I was doing exactly what I wanted to do; I planned and executed the whole thing, and it all worked. Yet several times during the packing-up, I had to stop and just cry — cry out loud like a little kid. At other times, I felt so elated that I could hardly bear it. And then, ironically, after I got unpacked and pretty much settled in, I often felt anxious and apprehensive and out of sorts.
What??? Negative emotions after doing something that had been a long-time dream?
What did I expect? I’ve studied and taught change management; why did it take so long for me to understand that I was experiencing the very normal, natural stress and accompanying emotions that come from big change? Mix in a good portion of “continued grieving process” — and consider that I was moving into a house that my late husband and I had enjoyed together — and it’s even more understandable.
It was a humbling experience to force myself through these moments — to follow my own teaching and (a) simply experience what’s happening, without judgment for myself or the emotion; (b) take ownership of the situation; and (c) identify what I have control over and focus my energy there. Each of those steps requires a conscious decision, and all of them require me to live in a state of mindfulness.
As time passed, I found a measure of contentment. I learned that those antsy, apprehensive feelings yield to a combination of prayer, meditation, and activity. And I found that I was pleased with myself and with where I was in life.
It would have been easy to think I was stuck in one of those phases of the grieving process, or that I was settling for something that was somehow less than I should have been seeking. I wasn’t. I was at peace, enjoying memories, cherishing what Tom and I had together, and moving forward with exactly the things I wanted and liked to do.
Until I wasn’t.
The day came when I woke up and felt isolated up there in my little house in the woods by the lake, and it was time to come home yet again … except I wasn’t really quite sure where “home” was, any more.
People might have assumed I was lonely. I was not. “Alone” is not the same as “lonely.” I loved the life Tom and I had. I loved the new life I was building. Those things are not mutually exclusive; rather, they represent me, moving through life. “Moving on” does not have one single definition, and it does not follow one single path. I have come to realize that when I start to feel out of sorts, it is because I am reacting to what society has decreed ought to be happening rather than living in the moment — in MY moment, the one God has chosen and created and placed me in.
And so I packed it all up again and came back to the southern part of the state, where my family is, and I began to relax into the growing certainty that my faith in God was the proper center for my restless soul. I began to see that while the questions can be complicated, faith itself is simple.
Faith is simple, and it grows simply by keeping oneself open to grace. In this state of mind, I not only asked God to lead me where He wanted me — I actually began to listen for His promptings!
The kind of mindfulness I’ve discovered in this process has me looking inward, growing daily in faith, and finding great joy in knowing I am where God wants me, doing what He calls me to do — and at the same time compels me to reach outward. And I am just in love with my life as a result.
A note in closing: Just as I am certain that God has led me to where I am now, through all the changes that required of me, I am also certain that I need to keep praying for Him to lead me and keep listening for His prompts. I’m quite sure He isn’t done with me!
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