All Settled In?
“So, are you feeling acclimated/settled/at home now?”
For the past three months, most folks have started a conversation with me by asking about my transition to St. Paul and life in Davenport. Often, I answer with some light-hearted joke about going from the Twin Cities to the Quad Cities and “doubling” my horizons. Other times, I prattle on a bit about my hiking adventures with my dog by the river, or I give a dramatic retelling of my learning to navigate all of these crazy one-way streets! Ultimately, I express my gratitude to the community of St. Paul for all of your support, grace, and encouragement. All of these responses and experiences are authentic and truthful.
However, rarely (if ever) do I wholly and vulnerably share how my acclimation process is really going. So, for the record, here it is:
Yes, I am feeling more and more at home, and it’s still hard some days.
Like I said, I am not quick to admit that to anyone, including myself. Instead, I like to live under the illusion that my logic can dictate my feelings. For example, “I see so many friendly faces, so I should never feel lonely”; “I have such excellent mentors, so I should catch on right away”; “I am 25 years old, so living independently should be a cool and carefree experience.” And even though I can recognize the flaws in this sort of thinking, I have struggled to overcome the idea that I ought to do better and feel better than I sometimes do.
This misguided line of reasoning is common, especially during times of change. Pastor Sara taught about that very phenomenon in her grief group last Sunday when she pointed out that emotions are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad. We may, for instance, find ourselves crying for seemingly no reason while doing a household chore, or we may find ourselves laughing during a funeral. And that’s ok, normal even. We are complex human beings, living in a wondrously complex world, made in the image of our infinitely complex God, and so our emotions are part of our complex authenticity.
While these levels of complexity and feeling are hard to conceptualize, let alone live, the good news is we can trust in God to see us through. As Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians: “[The Lord} said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses…for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (12:9-10).
While I cannot say that I have ever felt moved to boast about my weaknesses or difficult emotions, I can certainly get behind Paul’s conclusion that God’s grace does and will carry me through. God is with me on the rollercoaster of emotions, through the ups and downs and loop-de-loops, and God is with you, too.