On this website, I haven’t often written about weekend adventures or posted pictures of friends. Blogs have been personal but in a vague way that leaves out names, faces and locations. It just has. Those readers who know me in real life and more than just as a Facebook friend know those details, those stories, those pictures. They are the conversations over coffee that often inspire my writings, the lives that they share to teach me more about God’s love and the anonymous characters who play roles in the stories told.
These friends with whom I’ve been blessed also know something else about me: I moved to Atlanta with great hesitation and have toyed with the idea of leaving for three years. Three years of not feeling quite at home. Three years of wondering if I should one day return to Austin or consider Colorado once again.
Three years of living at 80-percent.
But for months now? I feel 100-percent. I feel here. I feel now. I feel like I’m back to my full self. I live in Buckhead. And I like it. I actually like it.
(Yes, if you know me well and are confused, you did, in fact, read that correctly.)
The idea of God giving us desires for the things that he has for our lives is something about which I have prayed and considered, and I’ve talked, read and studied about how the Holy Spirit changes people and works in our hearts. Nonetheless, I’ve never experienced this in such a pointed way that has made a significant difference in my perspective and articulated so clearly. I’ve never had circumstances not change but my heart change so specifically that almost make me laugh because I barely recognize my own perspective!
It’s so humbling. It’s humbling because it involves surrender. Surrendering to the Lord and living into what he has for me. It makes me admit – out loud – that God is God and I am not. He was right, and I was wrong. It reminds me that even the things that I want and for which I hope are not out of control of the God who created me. If Jesus truly is my Savior and the Holy Spirit does live in me, that means that my life is not my own, including my agendas, my timelines, my relationships and my desires. Yes, my desires, my hopes and my dreams. He has exchanged those for what he wants for me, and that means relinquishing the right to even control even my own heart.
It’s hope-filled, as well. It’s hope-filled because God’s great big plan for my life is what’s best for me, even when I don’t, at first, like it very much. Living into that brings a feeling of relief that makes me wonder why I have engage in such a mental wrestling match with the God who knows better and loves better than I ever could? It reminds me that there are good things that he wants for me and that those good things are even greater than the good things that I had expected. It makes me hopeful for life here and now and not for anything different than what he has for me today, no matter how long today lasts.
It is also source of great joy. It is a source of great joy because when my perspective changed, I found myself unexplainably peaceful and happy about being here. Paul writes about this in Philippians, the peace that is beyond all understanding. The peace that is promised when we trust in Jesus. And that peace, to me, has made me feel like the happy girl who friends in other places have known me more fully to be. Joy is also found in the idea that even if my life were to completely change tomorrow that God is not out of control. Just as easily has he has worked in my heart when it comes to location and other things, he can continue to do so, no matter what the circumstances. Joy is not dependent on circumstances, it’s dependent on my faith and trust in God.
And it calls for participation. It calls for participation because I don’t live in isolation. I – like everyone else – was created for relationship. The ways I spend my time and my attitude toward that is back to what it was in other cities. The desire to invest fully has returned. I don’t think I even realized I was at 80-percent until this shifted. But it has in small ways, and my calendar, address book and even Facebook reflect that a tiny bit. When I finally surrendered and my heart changed to desire the things that God has in store for my life, I started participating in that plan and not trying to unsuccessfully push my own agenda.
Nothing really about my life here in Atlanta has changed. And it’s far from perfect. I’m still doing the same job. I live in the same apartment. I have the same weekly commitments. I’m still friends with the same people. I still participate in the same church, lead the same small group, go to the same places and have the same prayers about situations that are hard and frustrating and so in need of God’s grace and love and healing. Not much has changed on the outside. The circumstances and characters are the same. Sure, I may choose to take time to invest in community or show up at a social event that I may have previously skipped, but not a lot has changed. Participation changes were the smallest of them all. But God changed my heart and can do that again tomorrow if circumstances changed. He truly does put in my heart desires for what he has for me, and surrendering to that has been good. So good.