Georgia, you are not my experiment.

Hi.

It's been 15 weeks since I pulled into my driveway that first night in Georgia.

A few people have asked if I've settled in and I recognize this usually means: do you like your job, are you happy, have you made friends yet? I have an aversion to chitchat so my answers take on an unintended intensity. Two minutes during church meet-and-greet or over iMessage is probably not the time to detail my "settling in," so here it is. 

An informal, scattered update for the curious.

It's been a fast road and God's faithfulness has not made any stops.
How can I contain my praise? 

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Leaves would crunch like corn flakes beneath my feet as I wandered around my new neighborhood and now, at the end of February, I'm chasing down cherry blossoms. Pops of pink, white, and maroon already line the streets and if you're stuck in traffic on I-75, you'll notice them there too. 

Over these 3+ months I've borne witness to seasons rapidly turning over and it's been the clearest reminder of how there is a time for everything. I'm convinced even our bleakest winters have purpose and yet, thankfully, they also have an end. Spring always comes.

I've fallen in love with being outside. This is a reality I couldn't even consider in 2016 when bedridden and housebound. Remember that? When circling around the perimeter of Target was too tiring and when my skull felt pierced by sunlight? Now I can't slip on toe socks and Nikes fast enough. I'm working on building endurance and can currently walk a handful of miles just 'cause, which is crazy to me. 

My body and spirit are invigorated as the breeze pushes me forward and it is all a gift. When I'm playing outside and surrounded by nature, I'm most aware of God's presence and voice. For years I've been unable to meet with him in this way. These moments are sacred and beautiful and even hilarious. I recently noticed squirrels moving to a staccato rhythm, perfectly synced to the song playing in my headphones. I fell over from laughter as I shared this silent disco with rodents in the woods. Promise I'm working on making friends but hey, I've got Jesus and some squirrels.

On Thursday, I finished up some yard work, dressed up, and took myself to my first ever concert. The venue was in a part of the city I'd never been to but I found it and settled in the parking garage with no problems. (Baby Driver ruined parking garages in Atlanta for me. Also, I've been driving down the up-ramp by mistake...) It was a lovely night, chatting with strangers before the doors opened and listening to prophetic words of hope and beauty and reconciliation sweep through the air. Josh Garrels' artistry is brilliant, his live show even better than the albums. There was enough applause to lift him off his feet, but instead he sang with conviction and humility, firmly planted in the sweet mercy of God. 

The concert was one of many events I've shown up to alone and in relative anonymity. I hear Garmin's voice on every solo drive to church, classes, and bookstores. Wandering by myself hasn't bothered me. I expected it here. I guess what I didn't see coming was how true the old adage—out of sight, out of mind—would feel. Perhaps hopping off Facebook at the start of the year made this feeling more prevalent. Nevertheless, I am okay.

My new therapist is leading me through the Boundaries book and it's helping me see the pseudo and codependent relationships I've clung to over the years. There's a healthier way and I look forward to loving freely and not out of obligation. This will take practice and failure and grace. Hard for us perfectionists. In time, I trust friendships will be formed and they won't be rodents or GPS robots. 

Sundays have become my favorite. If you're thinking church, then you're right. I'm not only going again, but I'm fully for God's covenant community and want to be with his family. There have been some real rifts and shady actions in previous local churches I've attended but none of my bitterness, judgment, or arrogance towards Christ's body can be justified. I am no better, even and especially when I think I am.

"It's just me and Jesus," was the mantra since 2015 (or maybe earlier) and I'm now learning how wrong and impossible that statement is. "Jesus died for a people, not a person," my pastor tells us. Why have I not considered this more? How long have I been centered on myself and my private relationship with God? Though I've desperately aimed to follow and obey him, I'd removed myself from living on mission with the very brothers and sisters he'd given to be my family. I'd been severely missing out because of hurt, pride, fear, and ignorance. There is a kindness that leads us to repentance and I am turning that way now, towards God and his beautiful transcultural church.

This Georgia life is not a trial run. It's not an experiment to see if God is able to sustain me. It's not to prove I've reclaimed adulthood or independence, either. I pray and pace the length of my room, overwhelmed as thanks pours through tears and words. Then it hits me. This is the place God miraculously guided me to—an oasis in a stretch of hard desert years. It's where I'm supposed to be. It's becoming home.