“I’ve got to get out of this town!”
“I wish I could pick up and move to a new place, with new people and just start fresh.”
Ever had those thoughts? I know I have. I’ve lived within 30 minutes of the same town my entire life. For many years I referred to my hometown as “the vortex,” since so many of us wanted to move on to bigger, better things, but never got around to it. In reality, it’s not so bad here. We have a population of around 70,000 people, a couple of nice parks, a school I look forward to sending my son to, a church we love, a Starbucks, a Target and a Goodwill (it’s like a huge garage sale every day… indoors!). We see the majesty of every season. And, most importantly, a lot of our family is here. So why the drive to uproot? Seems like we’ve got it pretty good here.We reach various points in life where we feel the need to completely redefine ourselves. Moving out of high school and into college, I needed to be seen as an adult capable of taking care of myself and making my own decisions. When I became I mother, I needed to be seen as the one who knew what was best for Ethan (even when I was just guessing). And sometimes there have just been times in life when I decided I was tired of the “old me,” and I was ready for a change. More than New Year’s resolutions… these were times of transformation. But sometimes it can be difficult to introduce “new me” to an entire town of people who were fine with the way I was before (well, most of them were, ha). They didn’t necessarily see my need for change. Change might make them feel uncomfortable or judged. Maybe it would just be easier to leave here as “old me” and show up somewhere else as the person I want to be. I could be whatever, whoever I wanted to be… “Ta-da! I have arrived! Look how wonderful I can be!” If I just wasn’t here. Here is only who I am today… who is not a lot different than who I was yesterday. Here is stuck. Here can’t move forward or backward. It just is. Sure, I had dreams of someday being better, being wiser, more disciplined, being a person I could respect. But that person was always somewhere in the future, and I was always here. A little over a year ago, I started being asked to share my story for church groups. I was humbled and flattered that anyone would want to hear the story from where I stood, but they did. And I started receiving emails and Facebook messages after these events. One day I had a startling realization: “These sweet people are talking to me as if I were a leader.” A leader? I laughed at the idea. I glanced around my cluttered house. “A leader isn’t so young. A leader doesn’t live here.” And then, even bolder, stronger than my attempt at self-defeat, I heard a challenge in my heart: “Well? They are looking to you as a leader. Are you going to live up to it or not?” That short conversation with my heart has changed me profoundly. I was waiting for my “big break” to become the woman I wanted to be. I wanted to “go places” someday. But you know what? Here is the only place I’ll ever be, no matter what my address is, and deciding to change is never easy. I don’t know if anyone else even noticed when this mental gear-shift took place. It felt more like a quiet revolution in my heart, which I gave permission to manifest however it would. It felt risky. But isn’t it? Isn’t allowing ourselves to become an enormous risk? Can we allow ourselves to not only dress for the job we want to have, but behave as the person we want to be? Isn’t it far safer and more dignified to stay the person we’re all comfortable with? After all, if I try to be more, I run the risk of falling on my face. And if I let others see I am trying to be more… horror of horrors. Someone might see me fail. As legendary NCAA coach John Wooden put it, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” If I wait until the day that is not today, for the place that is not here to change, to become who I want to be… that person will never become. My failure to embrace change here is fatal to the person I could be. Perhaps here is not stagnant if I am not stagnant here. Here is the only opportunity I have for change. If I stay in this same town until my dying day, will I be able to say that I had the courage to really change? Even here?
Have you ever felt the need for an extreme LIFE makeover? How did you do it, and were the people around you happy about it?