Have you ever felt like you did not fit? I know it is a strange question but it is one I have come to realize works for me. Have you ever been in a room with friends or family and you realize something in your relationship either changed or are just not the like they used to be? Life is not stationary. Everything changes and evolves. Some people struggle with change and fight against it and never adapt. While others thrive in the uncertainty of it. Sometimes the changes are under our control and other times we are completely at the mercy of the events that happen to us. Change can make us stronger as we adapt or it can throw us into a tailspin. Either way, we can count on one thing; everything changes.
So I moved from MN to Colorado Springs, CO to start fresh. It is a beautiful place with Pike’s Peak as the backdrop everywhere you looked. I was excited because it was so different from all that was familiar to me in MN, the Land of 10,000 lakes. This area of the country was spectacular and I was determined to fit in that new environment. I was enrolled in the chaplaincy program at one of the large hospitals; I attended church and spent a day a week volunteering at a social project for the downtown churches. Along with the two friends, who already lived in the Springs, I was making new friends at the hospital. After my chaplain internship was completed, I searched for a job without success. This beautiful place was becoming a place of few opportunities, which made me feel stuck with few options. After some time, I started to feel like the mountains were suffocating me. I couldn’t breathe. Whenever I would go walking in a place with rock structures, I would climb as high as possible to see across the landscape and feel the air around me. It did not take long for me to feel like I did not fit there either. That of course was frustrating because I had just moved my entire life there. What would people think if I moved again in such a short time? I continued to ask myself, what am I missing? Why don’t I feel like I fit? I was feeling the pressures of mounting bills and a depleting savings account. I felt I had to do something to change things so I moved to Florida.
Despite the struggle I had to find a suitable job that could pay my bills in Florida, there is something about the water that fits me when I look out on the endless horizon and feel the possibilities. Eventually, I found my current position as the Pastor’s Exec. Asst., at First Church, which has helped me to identify my call into ministry. While I am grateful for this opportunity, getting to this place in time was filled with much desperation and fear that I would never find a job or be at home. Would I fit here?
The waters of the gulf restore me and the air is full of hope. The water is constantly in motion, which emulates the ebb and flow life’s changes. People move here from all different and unique places. At anytime you can walk into a store and hear accents from the Boston or the New York area, the southern drawl of Georgia or Alabama, as well as dialects from around in the world. This is a melting pot society, which opens its arms even to a woman from Minnesota. I am sure there will be more mountains to climb but for now, this fits.
Recently, I discussed my Colorado experience with a friend and she gave me some insight on my inability to fit there. She said that when I moved to CO. I was still working through a lot of stuff in my life. The changes forced me to forge a path through the mountains figuratively, emotionally and spiritually. The feeling of being trapped or closed in by the mountains meant that I was working through all of the valleys of hurt, trust, love and faith to the crest the top of each mountain and discover the freedom of God’s love, grace and acceptance. Once I had climbed to the top of each peak, I had to eventually move on and find a place of rest and peace.
So what have I learned through this experience? That even though I don’t mind change, the process can be very difficult at times and life affirming in many other ways. I think that fitting is not about a location so much as a state of mind and heart. Minnesota and Colorado are wonderful places to live and I enjoyed living in both of them. But they were also a part of my process of learning about who I am and whose I am. There is much that I have learned about my strengths, my weaknesses, and my ability to work from a place of brokenness to help others along their path of discovery. I can now be confident that no matter the circumstances, I fit into God’s world and even in the very tough times, He loves me through it. With God, I fit. I rest in the words of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Where do you fit?