Tonight is New Year’s Eve, and in a few minutes 2010 will tick its way into 2011. Horns will blow, cheers will ring out and kisses will be planted. In our temporarily-busy home, the little people are asleep, the older ones are out having fun, and I’ll be in a quiet place enjoying a one-on-one with the Lord.
Recently Nelson and I chatted about favorite places, specifically comparing life in Michigan vs. Illinois. Both of us were born and raised in the Chicago metropolitan area, familiar with the suburbs and all they offer. Living now in a small town fairly far from everything has been a radical change. Nate and I moved to our summer cottage three months before learning of his fatal cancer, and six weeks after that, he was gone. We were barely unpacked.
The question everyone asked then was, “Will you be moving back to Illinois?” Actually it was more like a statement: “Surely you’ll be moving back.”
I answered in the negative, determined to pursue the plan Nate and I had designed from the start. But was it the best choice?
Since we moved, I sorely miss lifelong friendships, deep relationships begun in the 1970’s as we started raising families together. All of these women are 110 miles from me now, my sister included. I also miss women-friends who have a passion for prayer. Four women and I spent thousands of hours praying together over two decades, growing close through our shared love of spending time in God’s throne room.
And then there’s the church, actually two churches, the one I grew up in and the one we attended for the last 20 years. I miss the pastors and their preaching, the Sunday morning music and many fine friends.
I miss my neighbors and the deep camaraderie we developed as mothers raising our children who became fast friends. Between all of us and the windows in our homes, we could let the kids roam the neighborhood even as toddlers, and still keep an eye on them.
There are other losses, too: familiar roads, stores, merchants, doctors, routines in all categories. With such a long list of “I-misses”, why would I want to stay in Michigan?
Two reasons: quietness and isolation.
Spending time alone isn’t always negative for a new widow or anyone attempting to sort through a host of changes. Actually, it’s necessary.
God often waits for us to isolate ourselves from life’s bustle before he speaks. He has ideas, plans and comfort ready for us but won’t be just one of many waiting in line for our attention. At the Michigan cottage I’ve been able to hear him clearly and depend on him completely. Would that have happened had I moved back to Chicago?
I’ll never know for sure, but it would have definitely been easier to hide from the work of grief while meeting the commitments of a full calendar. God put me in Michigan exactly when he intended I be here.
And when we know where God wants us, it’s a good idea to stay there…. especially on New Year’s Eve.
“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)