As we were packing and getting ready to leave Michigan, I couldn't help but think back to almost exactly two years before when I was packing and getting ready to leave Pittsburgh. These were two very similar experiences, but they felt very different to me. I've been trying to process why.
When I was leaving Pittsburgh, I certainly was very sad to leave my family, church, friends, and the only home I had ever known. By saying, "Yes," to Brad, I was saying, "No," to Pittsburgh and all that it held. And while the pain of the, "No," was very significant, the joy of the, "Yes," was exciting, delightful, and certainly tangible. All of the long-distance dating was VERY old at that point and the thought of being able to stay with Brad, to live with him and do life with him was certainly a dream come true. It was really easy to see that, feel that, and touch that and it made the letting go a little easier.
With this move, we are again saying, "Yes," and, "No." Only this time, the, "No," is a lot more tangible than the, "Yes." We are confident that God has spoken to us and is leading us to start a church planting network in Philadelphia and with that, "Yes!" we feel great excitement and dreams building in our hearts. Sometimes, though, it's hard to hold on to that dream, when all we can feel is the pain of leaving so many people and places that we love so dearly behind. When the "Yes," is a bit more intangible, it can be harder to let go.
I guess that's why the end of this past week was so significant for me. Almost immediately upon arriving in Pittsburgh, we left again to visit my sister in DC and then to travel to Philly as a family and scope out the city for a few days. As we were entering the city, I was busy navigating for Brad, trying to look for road signs in the midst of six lanes of congested traffic.
Somewhere in the middle of this, however, I paused, looked out the window, and felt my heart leap inside my chest. Perhaps it was seeing the city skyline. Perhaps it was the sun peeking through the clouds. Perhaps it was the fact that we just passed a Target right in the city limits. :-) Whatever the case, it was a definite excitement burst in my heart. I wasn't even looking for it, but I couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
I would be lying if I said that over the next 48 hours I never had moments of feeling fear, anxiety, tension, uncertainty, or stress. These were certainly present and I'm sure it won't be the last time that I feel these over the next few months. Underneath it all, however, there was this underlying peace, this inexplicable confirmation to embrace the, "Yes."
I've identified with a picture of a trapeze artist who has just leapt off the platform to be caught by their partner. I've read that when the "catcher" successfully grabs on to the "flyer" sometimes the catcher will shout out, "Gotcha!" to their partner. This lets the flyer know that the catcher has a good grip and that the flyer can now let go of the bar.
At the end of several months of leaping off a secure platform into the arena of the unknown, this trip to Philadelphia was the "Gotcha!" at the peak of the leap. God was letting me know that He did have me in His grasp and that I could let go of the security of what we were leaving behind. Even in the midst of hanging at the end of a wild swing on a trapeze, there's nowhere more secure than in the grip of the hands of our Father.
I'll probably have to re-read this several times in the months ahead, but in the meantime, I'm going to try and make an intentional choice to enjoy the ride as a "flyer," and rest in the grasp of my Catcher.