Indulgent and Long

Written By: Kaci Thomas

You know how life is super cyclical, and you get super nostalgic as the seasons change?  I think that's especially true in Fall.  As the days get shorter and the air chills, you can't help but reminisce on what you were up to this time last year, and all that's happened since then.

Last night, a friend and I were discussing my life in this season last year.  October 2015, I was heading into one of the busiest, most stressful seasons I've experienced.

This time last year, God was encouraging me to take a leap of faith and give notice to my roommates without any idea of where I was going to end up if I moved out.

I was treading water at a new job, and it would have been really convenient to NOT shake up my living situation.  I'd spent the past few years bouncing around, moving eight times in less than three years.  That house was the first place in a LONG time, where I'd stayed a whole year.  It was a beautiful home, with two beautiful souls, in a beautiful neighborhood, with ridiculously low rent. 

As I look back on that home, I realize it's a place where I straddled BIG life change.  I moved into that home holding onto my life as I'd known it post-college, but somewhere deep down, I knew the ground was shifting below me.  I was reluctant to let go of the church, the city, the friends that had been with me through the chaos of entering adulthood and the transitions that come with your early twenties. 

That home was where God graciously allowed me time to let go as I felt ready.  I was slowly stepping out of the comfort and "known" of that season, and  s o   v e r y   s l o w l y  entering into a new season.  Even though my early twenties were chaotic and FULL of transitions, they were fun, and that chaos was all I knew of adulthood at this point. 

That beautiful home was my God-given space to sort things out.  To recognize what I needed to move on from, and what God was calling me towards.

As I thought about the upcoming lease year ending, and whether I wanted to renew, I realized everything in me would love to curl up and stay in that safe place another year.  But I also realized that I would be so disappointed in myself if I didn't step forward in faith.

So against all logic, I told my sweet roommates that I had to go with this crazy idea and move into Santa Ana.

Never mind that I had a few MAJOR events I was responsible for at work in that holiday season, and hardly had time to eat and shower, much less look for a house, and in six weeks I'd be homeless if I didn't find a place.  I was banking that God was serious about that whole "provision" thing, otherwise, I was going to be couch surfing.

A few weeks in, with no housing leads panning out, God brought me a roommate.  Still no place to live, but a person to be homeless with in a few weeks time! Yay!

Then He had someone give us a TV.

Then He had someone give us a ridiculous deal on couches.

The He had someone give us a refrigerator.

All the things we thought we would need, but still no home.  It felt like such a tease.

My roommate and I drove up and down the streets of Santa Ana every weekend looking for "For Rent" signs and fighting the discouragement that rose every time we heard the words, "Sorry, it's already been rented." 

In this process, however, I recognized a couple things: A) I was praying up and down the streets of this city I was falling in love with - a city God was distinctly calling me into, and B) I learned to start praying for our neighbors, trusting that though we didn't know them, God already did.

There was a specific street I felt pulled to throughout the whole process, even though there wasn't anything currently open to rent or any logical reason to feel drawn to that street.  However, five days after my old lease ended we moved into a beautiful historic home on that exact street.

We now have six other families sharing a driveway, a washer and dryer, and a landlord - more neighbors that we know what to do with.  We were given everything we needed, and then some.  The week after moving in, we got a Christmas tree, stand and ornaments givento us as we celebrated our first Christmas in this new place.  As if God hadn't already provided enough.  Show-off.

As I discussed this season in brevity with my friend last night, he asked if I could see now, in hindsight, how God had shaped me through the unknown & provision of that season.

I paused before I answered.

Other seasons came to mind as "shaping" me, but to verbalize what those seasons entailed and how I walked out of them would have felt juvenile.  Though I didn't feel shaped as distinctly by my move process last year, it felt significantly more important than the previous seasons that have shaped me with more definition.  Wait, those seasons were more shaping, but less important?  It was a weird dichotomy I didn't notice until this friend asked me about it. 

I realized pretty quickly that it's because where I was last year is very similar to where I am this year.  It doesn't feel like hindsight yet.

Though I think things look so different from a year ago, what I stepped into last year - the unknown, the uncomfortable, the place where I really needed to trust God - is exactly where I am a year later. 

Nothing about my life is comfortable.

[I write as I sit cuddled under my favorite quilt with fall candles lit and a glass of Sauv Blanc by my side...  Yeah, totally not comfy...]

Don't get me wrong.  Moving so much has made me the queen of nesting.  My house feels like a home within four hours of getting the keys.  As an introvert, I need a home base where I feel comfortable and can recharge. 

But living so close to our neighbors?  Uncomfortable sometimes.  Living in an area known for gang activity?  Uncomfortable sometimes.  Living in an area known for a large homeless population?  Working at a nonprofit where I don't get paid as much as I should?  Working in a field where I'm faced with brokenness daily?  Planting a church and working a full-time job?  Meeting new people constantly as an introvert?  All things that aren't comfortable all the time.  Very few things about my life feel comfortable.

But I LOVE my life.  I absolutely am in awe of how beautiful it is.  How unique my neighborhood is.  The character and creativity that marks my home, my city, my neighbors, my church... My whole life.

I am constantly gushing gratitude that God's chosen to let me play a part in these things.  I love watching the sun set through our big old windows.  I love sitting around a living room watching new friends experience the joy of authentic community.  I love hugging my new homeless friend, and feeling her hug me back so tightly and sincerely.  I love watching the team I work with rally together to get a kiddo into a safe, loving home.  I love the ways God surprises me and provides for the things I worry about.

I've struggled with anxiety and fear of the unknown more than I ever have before, because this way of living, so uncomfortable most of the time, is not always fun.  It's no bueno for a control lover like me.  However, this journey I said yes to a year ago is definitely one of my favorite and most terrifying and most beautiful yeses I've ever said.

The journey doesn't feel done.  At. All.

In so many ways, it feels like it's just starting still.  It feels significantly more important than anything I've ever experienced before.  I don't know when this "season" will feel over.  I'm sure it will be followed by another exciting season.  And I'm sure I'll eventually be able to wrap my mind around just how much this time of my life has shaped and changed me.  But I'm still SO in the thick of it, that it's hard to see the change that's already happened.  I'm still being shaped so much each day, I'm not sure what I'll come out of this season looking like.  But I am excited about it.  It can't be anything but good, because I'm pursuing that good, full life God told me He has for me.