I was talking with a friend the other day, explaining that I was feeling like I wanted to just pack up and leave. Talking about some things going on in my life. She reminded me that this time of year I always feel restless. As I pondered her words, I realized that she was right. February is usually the month I start looking for something new, pull away from what I have been doing, and retreat back into myself. February is the month that I usually get lost in myself...and try to substitute whatever pain I am feeling with a lot of distractions.
As I was contemplating this I realized that I have in fact been feeling this way every February for the past 8 years. What created this pattern? Why the need to get so restless every February? As I was explaining how I felt to some friends yesterday, like if I don't plant myself somewhere soon...well I will in fact begin to prepare to run away. It would be running this time. It would be running away from the pain that in my head and heart I somehow feel will inevitably come.
So, where does this pain come from, and why am I just now 8 years later realizing that it created a cycle in my life? Much like the Israelites, I have allowed myself to continue in this cycle.
Eight years ago I lost a friendship. I lost a friendship that had meant more to me then any other friendship. Along with losing that friendship I lost the community that I had planted myself into. It hurt, it was hard, and I wasn't at the place where I could easily be authentic with those around me. Instead of opening up and letting people in I shut them out, and I ran. It maybe wasn't right away, but I ran. I have kept running. Every time I got close to being in a community like that again, I left. Continuing a cycle of broken friendships, and unfulfilled connections.
Looking back now I am sure that I was called overseas, yet I know that part of me has used that calling to run when things get tough, or when I feel like I am getting too close. I know that part of what God is working in me is to stay, and allow people to love me even when I fail. Even when I don't meet their expectations.
Eight years ago I lost a really good friend, who had become a huge part of my life. Even though we stayed in touch for a little while, February 1st will always be the day that I realized that we can't put our hope and trust in people because they will let us down. I had thought that I would be in that community forever, that I had found a place to belong....and it turned out to not be what I thought.
Then on top of that my Grandpa passed away and I truly lost a man that I had come to rely on for strength and dependability in my life. I think this loss just added to the loss that was already occurring. Creating more pain and hurt.
As I look back over the past eight years I realize the pattern that has become my life. I get close enough, and then when there might be a chance that people might reject me, I leave before they have the chance. I feel restless in February because that is when I had my first real loss. That is when my world got turned upside down and I allowed someone else to determine my worth and purpose in this world. That is when I allowed someone in too far that they broke me.
I am sure that for most people it wouldn't take eight years to realize the experience of what that was has continued to shape me and make me into who I am today. But for me I needed to come to this place. I needed to come to the place eight years later, where I found people that I was willing to be hurt for. People that I want to be in community with. People that I never want to leave. It has taken me eight years to be able to get to this place.
I choose to let go of the cycle that I have allowed to be created in my life. I choose to let go of those expectations that I put on that friendship so long ago. I choose to not allow myself to feel any less value because of that experience. For I am created, loved, and valued.
I choose to allow myself to mourn what might have been, but know that there was purpose and something bigger than myself in control. I choose to embrace the person that I have become, and be thankful that my feelings will not get the best of me. That the purposes God has for me are far greater than what I can even imagine.
I choose to embrace the community I have been planted in and not allow my self-doubt, fear, and past to dictate my intentional friendships in the here and now. I know that God has me here for a reason. I know that the road/journey won't be easy. I know that sometimes I have to fight the urge to run.
But most of all I know that God is bigger than any of the reasons I get restless during this month. He is bigger then anything that causes me to fear, and He is in control of everything that will happen.
So...I embrace my life, including my weaknesses. I let go of the pain that I have been holding on to and I look forward to what He will bring me through during this time.
I say yes to a New February....and less restlessness, more authentic love.