Today I was walking around Bloomington, the town I’ve called home for more than four years, thinking about how much I’m going to miss it. I walked by cafes I spent countless hours studying in, drinking countless cups of coffee. I made my way through my favorite, wooded part of the campus where I earned my journalism degree. I stopped by the house I lived in my last year of college and made food in the same, familiar kitchen with familiar friends.
I never really wanted to leave Bloomington. I’ve been known to concoct crazy plans–I applied to the Peace Corps in the Caribbean, I almost became a certified teacher through Teach For America, and for a time I considered living a vagabond existence on different organic farms throughout the country. I think a part of me always knew those plans wouldn’t take. I’m a writer, and as a lover of stories, I can’t help trying to constantly write the story of my life. The problem is, I write myself wrong.
I would go crazy in the middle of an island with no reliable access to water and a two mile-walk to the next human being. I’m too emotional to be a teacher. I tried it in Bloomington and ended up crying a lot because my kids were obviously going through hard times at home and I felt powerless. As for the farming idea: honestly, vagabond existences stress me out. It is a nice idea, and it would be an awesome story to write. But I love getting know to one place slowly and thoroughly, the way I got to know Bloomington.
Tonight, on a whim, I went to a Christmas sing-along at the Buskirk-Chumley, a theatre on the town square. Families, college students and Bloomington musicians gathered to spread Christmas cheer and support the homeless shelter in town. I saw at least ten people I knew. One woman was an instructor in the salsa dancing classes I attended this fall. Another was the mother of one of the preschoolers I used to teach. I recognized a guy on stage as the barista at the local Barnes and Noble, where I’m kind of a “regular.” To top it off, the event supported Interfaith Winter Shelter, a shelter I wrote a feature series on for the school newspaper when I was an editor. As the theatre roared with our voices and kids danced in front of the stage, I felt so much love for the town I have come to call home.
These are the kinds of stories God writes. His characters are not uniform and archetypical, they are complex and built with intention. He weaves their lives together masterfully, creating meaningful relationships in unexpected ways. Community is a concept he drew up to mirror his love. In short, he has me beat as far as authors go.
Even though I’m nostalgic about leaving Bloomington, I know that God is leading me to my parents’ house Indianapolis. He is challenging me to let go of the scapegoat I’ve made of exciting plot-lines and let him decide what happens next. God wants to write my story, and he wants to write about the areas of my life I tend to neglect. The ones that might not be as flashy and cool. He wants to write about responsibility and self-care. He wants to write about what I look like as a good friend and a good daughter. And I trust that this next chapter will end similar to the last–with me, amazed at what He can do with my life when I let him.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.