It Won’t Be the 2nd Floor Apartment: Moving, Questions, and Short Seasons

The first few weeks I lived here I came home every night and watched the 2016 Olympics. I cried every time Michael Phelps won another Olympic medal. It didn’t really matter that I knew he was going to win before he jumped in the pool, the end of his career still stirred something in me.

I’m packing up my apartment and I knew this day would come. That’s the thing about apartments, you know they aren’t permanent. You know the end before it happens. You know you’re one day going to pack up all your boxes, take all the pictures off of the wall, scrub the cabinets, and try to figure out how to secure all the breakables.

Yesterday I sat in the office of a friend, he crossed his arms over his white plaid shirt and smiled, “Whatever the next step is, it probably won’t feel like a clear yes at first, it will probably just feel something like well, it’s not a no. Then, you’ll just keep taking steps and asking questions. And you might always have questions, but somewhere in there, you will find a yes.”

Suddenly, I was sitting on that street corner again, looking at myself ten months ago deciding whether or not to move to this city, rent this apartment, change my entire life. I followed that nudge, that well it’s not a no. I kept asking questions, and in the midst of it, however short it turned out to be, there was a yes.

There was always a yes. Nestled there in the crying in the kitchen, laughing at work, my plunger emergency, the literal ceiling caving in, sleepless nights and exams, my beloved Chick-fil-a man, learning how to let go, how to stand up, nearly dying from a migraine, hosting the best Christmas party ever, my sister getting married and then getting pregnant, having one of the most absurd “define-the-relationship” conversations ever, forming unlikely friendships. There was a yes, there in the deepest part of my soul, even though I had a billion questions.

“God didn’t allow this moment to make you weaker. Don’t let it make you weaker.”

His words were once again exactly what I needed to hear. Because questions can have that kind of power when we let them. They can make our knees feeble and our hearts weary, we can find ourselves doubting and uncertain that we’re on the right path, or that we ever got on the right one in the first place.

Having questions doesn’t mean you’re weak and it doesn’t mean that you’re on the wrong path. Sometimes it takes a person (who was a stranger just months ago), whom you met at a place (that some might say seemed like a “wrong turn”), to show you that questions and short seasons often keep you right on track.

Stop feeling guilty for your questions, your short seasons, things that didn’t work out like you expected, or for crying when MP predictably wins a medal or you predictably have to move again.

This moment doesn’t have to make you weaker, guilty, or fearful. There’s something ahead and it won’t really matter if it lasts for nine months or nine years. It will be the right turn, the right time, the right track. You’ll cry when it’s over and you’ll cry while it’s happening. You’ll gain and lose along the way, you’ll find the yes in the middle somewhere and you’ll keep asking questions until you find yourself asking a question that takes you to a different turn.

And one day you’ll move your boxes to a new place. You will set up the tv, turn it on and make a new memory. It won’t be Phelps at the 2016 Olympics and it won’t be Raleigh. It won’t be the 2nd floor apartment with the perfect sunset view or the closet that smells like Christmas. It won’t be right down the street from the Harris Teeter with the annoying kid who never stops talking. But it will be home again and there will be people there waiting to love you and people that you’ll hope to never leave.

But if and when you do, they are what you will know made this whole thing the right turn. Even though it hurts and even though it’s a lot of logistics, labor, inconvenience. The women who laughed with you, prayed with you, let you vent and cry in the hard moments. The bosses who sat with you, heard your questions, processed your pain, valued your voice. The men who kept you laughing, whose comfort and encouragement reminded you that honor and integrity are worth whatever the cost, who cheered you on when you thought you might give in. When you’re packing it all up–questioning why and trying to understand it all–they are what and who will make you certain that thought it wasn’t what you expected, you made the right turn after all.

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Lovely Letters: There Might Be More

I feel like I’m betraying the people I love if I move far away, but at the same time I feel like I need some independence and change. I don’t want to lose them, but I think I need to see what else is out there for me.

-K

Dear K,

When I decided to move to Georgia, it was just an experiment. I figured I would stay for the summer and test the waters. I decided that if I didn’t fall completely in love with this city, I’d just move back home.

I fell in love, K.

To be honest, it wasn’t really the city that romanced me and it still doesn’t give me butterflies, but I fell absolutely head over heels with who I am while living in it.

It took walking away from everything I’ve known. It took leaving home to realize that I am more than just that twelve year old small town girl who had braces, bad hair, good grades and decent basketball skills.

I think there’s more for you, K. Oh, and trust me, the people that are sewn permanently into your heart and soul will love you no matter what you decide. It will be painful, they’ll definitely cry, but they will send you off with hugs and prayers. You’ll see that they will always have open arms when you come back to visit.

I remember being so torn about my decision to move and finally, standing in my doorway, my Dad said something that’s stayed with me every step of this journey:

“You’re thinking about what you’ll miss if you go, but you have no idea what you will miss if you stay.”

That was all I needed, those words sparked a hope in my heart that said there might be more… if you want it.

Most days, I still have no idea what I’m doing here, but you know, that wasn’t why I really came. Sure, I hoped I would have a fated collision with my destiny, but I really came just to see what it would be like to ride without my training wheels.

I’ve spent months in other places, traveled to foreign countries. Yes, I lived with my sister in Apartment G, but I needed to go beyond that.

I didn’t just need to see the world, I needed to see who I was outside of the only piece of it I had ever called home.

I think it was honestly time for me to let somewhere else and someone else see what I bring to the table. I think we’ve got a lot to offer, K. You have things to offer others besides those in just your little corner of the universe.

You’re not betraying anyone by deciding to stretch your arms further and pull more people into your embrace. It doesn’t mean you’re letting go of the ones you already love, K. You can hold more than you think, your limbs are made to stretch farther than you can imagine.

There are also other people who need to squeeze you tight and leak some love on your weary bones. It’s okay to want some new faces, to experience the rush that comes with driving down unfamiliar streets and seeing the sun setting on a different stretch of horizon.

You’re not selfish, sweet girl. You’re an adventurer and you’ve got a restless heart and that isn’t always a bad thing. There may come a day when you’re ready to go back to that place you once called home, you may buy a little house on one of those streets you’ve come to know well. But for now, it’s okay to explore and add a little more to the beautiful life you already have.

You can do this, if it’s what you really want. If you mess up and it turns out to be a horrible mistake, you’ll only grow from it. You’ll learn more than if you only play it safe (and you’ll also have some good stories to keep in your pocket).

Risk isn’t a waste, but a lifetime of asking “what if?” is.

Don’t be afraid to take some chances and to take off your training wheels. The only way you’ll ever learn is to just start pedaling.

Ashlin

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a series that happens every Wednesday (well, at least once a week)! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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