“We’re moving.” These were the words our innocent ears never wanted to hear. Our smiles quickly faded as those words, those terrible words, sank their talons into our hearts. As my siblings and I sat at our kitchen table drinking hot chocolate from our christmas mugs, reality suddenly grabbed a hold of us. We began to talk with our parents about what this could mean for us as a family. We all knew God was asking us to do the impossible. What we didn’t know was just how difficult it would be.
One of the hardest parts about moving was that we couldn't tell anyone until my dad announced it to the church. We only broke the news to a few select people, and one of those people was Emily, Tori’s best friend, who was like a sister to my siblings and a child to my parents. Tori took her to a coffee shop to tell her that we were moving from Topeka, Kansas to Lawson, Missouri. After that day, she began to spend more time with us. She was afraid to let go, and so were we.
The time came for us to break the news to our church family. My dad, being the youth pastor, was the one who stood in front of the church and told them we were moving. I remember so vividly. We all sat on the floor in front of the stage. My dad got up and told everyone what would soon be happening. As he spoke, he couldn’t hold back the swelling tears in his eyes. As I looked around, I realized there was not a single dry eye in the entire room.
After the service, I gave and received more hugs than I ever had in my life. It’s funny how you remember the tiniest details of a place that means so much to you. I remember the smell when I walked into the auditorium and the feel of the maroon chairs as I ran my hand across them. I remember the way there was always at least one light burnt out on the ceiling and the way the youth would stand together in the front during worship. I remember the smell of the clean toys in the nursery and how I grew up in that place. I remember how the stage felt on my fingertips as I worshipped and the way I had to strain my neck to see the words on the screen. I remember that last Wednesday night and how our friend Julia was eating an orange. She handed the peel to Tori and told her to always remember her by it. I remember the laughs, the cries, the camps, the songs, and the games, but mostly I remember the joy that always filled my heart when I walked through those front doors. I remember thinking that night, ‘How can I ever leave this place?’ I had to remind myself that I still had three months to spend with the ones I loved.
The weeks after that Wednesday night were hard and trying. The reality that I was going to move away hadn’t fully hit me yet. I still cried nearly every time I got together with my youth group, but the one time I remember the most was during pre-service prayer with my closest friends. I shared some verses with them and cried with them as we realized what was about to happen. I really didn’t want to move away from them, but ultimately I knew it was what God wanted which was far more important to me than my own desires.
‘Twas the night before the big day. It was a Monday, and a lot of our friends had shown up to help us load up the moving van. I can remember the sounds of the Legos hitting the inside of their container, the Saran wrap tearing as we wrapped up countless boxes, and the final shut of the van door. I can remember my outfit. My black Washburn hoodie and colorful Nike shorts. That night I was shown what true community was and I was reminded me how hard it was going to be to leave them.
I can remember driving down the road on the way to the grocery store with my friend Emily and my sister, Tori, that same night. We were listening to the song “Daylight” by Maroon 5. Soon after the song started playing, we began to cry.
We listened to the words that said, “And when the daylight comes I’ll have to go, but tonight I’m gonna hold you so close. ‘Cause in the daylight we’ll be on our own, but tonight I need to hold you so close,” and it was like the entire song was describing our situation. We were going to have to leave when daylight came.
“This is our last night, but it’s late, and I’m trying not to sleep. ‘Cause I know when I wake I will have to slip away.” I remember it was so hard to fall asleep that night. I was shaking in my covers not only from the cold, but from fear. I wasn’t ready for what was to come. “This is way too hard, ‘cause I know when the sun comes up, I will leave. This is my last glance that will soon be a memory,” rang the song lyrics in my mind.
The daylight had come. We finished packing up the small boxes and gathered with our friends, all of us drenched in tears. It was time to say good-bye. Our friend Karen led us in prayer as we wept. I gave the most heartfelt hugs I’ve ever given another human being that day. I remember everyone that came. Nikki, Lauren, Jaide, Emily, and Karen all said their goodbyes as we piled into our two cars. It was so difficult to leave.
I remember Karen telling us something she used to tell her kids when they were younger and began to move out of her house. She told us that we can cry and miss our friends for the first half of the trip, but when the second half of the trip comes around, we have to look forward to the new adventures that await us. We were finally ready to leave.
It all seemed like a scene from a movie where we were crying and waving good-bye to all our friends. We pulled out of the driveway and headed to our new home, leaving all we had known behind us. It was one of the most emotional days of my life. We listened to sad songs as the road was blurred by our tear-stung eyes. We wished with all of our hearts that we could stay, but something inside of us knew we had so much to look forward to.
I remember we continued to Snapchat Emily throughout the entire trip. We knew this move was as hard on her as it was on us. As we glanced down at the clock, we realized the first half of our trip was over. We wiped the tears from our eyes and began to play happier songs. We looked forward to everything that was ahead of us. For a moment there, it seemed like hope wasn’t too far off after all. I began to get excited about meeting new people and having a new house, and before I knew it, we were there. We pulled into the driveway of our new home.
The place was hustling and bustling with excited activity as people from our new church helped us unload. It was a crazy day filled with meeting new people and organizing our rooms. It was a hectic time of new adventure and it remained that way for a while. We were going to a new school, meeting new people, going to a new church, and living in a new house. It was a thrilling, exhilarating, and hopeful time in our lives.
My family began to settle in, but as time flew by, I felt an uneasiness in my heart. Just as our one year anniversary in Lawson was approaching, I felt empty inside. I began to wish for my old home again. I felt lonely and I desperately wanted something to satisfy my loneliness. I began craving deeper friendships like the ones I had in Topeka and I just felt empty. I thought that I had already dealt with those feelings and that I was fine, but it turns out those feelings continued to come back. It was an endless battle and I had to constantly remind myself that God was my home. I tried looking for that love and acceptance in boys, my grades, my friends, my social status, and even my family, but through making me the most uncomfortable I had ever been in my life, God showed me that my comfort is found in Him. He showed me how much beauty was in His plan for my life and that it was greater than any plan I could have ever imagined for myself. As I called out to God, he quenched that undying thirst inside me.
Through many hardships, I’ve learned that God’s plan is better than my own and that He is always there. That doesn’t mean that life isn’t hard anymore; it just means that when it is hard there is always hope. Now looking back on our move, I realize God changed us individually and as a family. In fact, in the midst of our struggles, God was showing us His grace by saving us from ourselves.
It still hurts sometimes to think about how life will never be the way it was or how the youth group we moved away from is in a season of struggle right now. It hurts knowing we can’t comfort Emily as her parents go through a divorce or our friend, Lauren, as she begins to doubt her faith. It hurts not having my closest friends by my side, but God always provides. What I should do is keep moving forward and put all of my trust in God. I still miss my old friends, but I know I wouldn't be the same person without the new friends I've made.
The perfect analogy for my life was brought to me by my youth leader, Heather. She gave me a necklace that had a small, clear light bulb on the end with dandelion seeds in it. I didn't understand the meaning at first, but now I see it. One interpretation is that the dandelions represent love and no matter where I go I can spread them and trust the wind, or God, to let them land where they're supposed to. Another interpretation, one I think about often, is that I am the dandelion and I go wherever the wind, or God, takes me. Every time I look at that necklace, I'm humbled and reminded what little control I have in this life. It reminds me that God places me wherever I’m needed the most, and I simply have to trust Him.
Life is crazy and I've made it through a lot of difficult situations. Friends are here one day and gone the next. Life is hard, and circumstances never seem to go anyone's way. When tough times come, I need to keep my eyes fixed on the one above. When life gets hard and all I feel like I can do is sit and watch life go by, I have to remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. Even when I can't see it, I must remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel and with each step I take, I get closer. When I finally reach the end, the daylight may hurt for a moment or two, but when it's all said and done, I will look back and be thankful that the daylight came.