Jeff has been trying to get me to drive his manual car for a while now. Mostly because we will be selling mine, and I no longer have a choice. I can make it to the grocery store 3 miles down the road without hyperventilating, so we have made some progress. Last week as I was driving us back from Utah, the highway, suddenly it seemed, shifted from wide open desert road to the chaos of suburban Los Angeles. My hands started shaking and sweating as adrenaline weighed heavy in my stomach. I needed to get out of the car, but I couldn’t think clearly enough to change lanes to get off the freeway. When I finally pulled off into the gravel, with Jeff reminding me to breathe, the world began to focus again. The aggression of lifted trucks and large black SUVs began the attack, but my fear was largely internal. I didn’t believe that I could do it. I couldn’t do all the things that I needed to do to keep us safe. I wasn’t in control.
It may seem strange then that in a few short months we will be leaving a very comfortable life, complete with stability and plans and charts, to chase after something far out of our control. We will be leaving incredible friends and family and jobs with health insurance and a beautiful home on a beautiful coast for uncertainty. Jeff asked a few weeks ago, how long I thought it would take to get back to “where we are now.” For a man who grew up in the insecurity of relative poverty, it wasn’t our things he was concerned about, it was our freedom from worry.
Soon we will let our friends in on our secret. We will be taking out more student loans, moving to Scotland, and going back to graduate school – both of us, at the same time. Now our friends are wonderful, and they will be happy for us, but at some point during the conversation I’m sure they will ask why.
Going back to school, especially going back to school in another country is an incredible opportunity. We hope the next year is filled with adventure. We may never be fully employed again, but we will have spent a year on the North Coast with castles and cliffs and sheep and HIGHLAND COWS, learning about the things we are most passionate about, and experiencing the place where our families began. We are going because it is too good to pass up, but even deeper than all the opportunity; we are going because we know moving will make us better. There is so much else out there and, we want to experience it. Even though it is uncomfortable and risky, we want to push ourselves. Because it is uncomfortable and risky, we are going to grow. A lot of our faith is at its core about growth. Knowing Christ is ultimately about redemption and sanctification, being made better by God’s hand through experience. Now of course sanctification can and does happen everywhere; no two people share the same path. Moving away is not a necessary requirement of a Christian life, but for us, I think it is. Letting go of the certainty and holding on to God. For two people who crave assurance there is nothing more transformative than risk.
Most days the idea of actually leaving stings. I get excited and then my stomach drops. There are people here that we love deeply, students whose lives we aren’t quite ready to leave, and children that we want to see grow. I sometimes worry that we are leaving before our job is done. But Jeff always reminds me that this job of loving young people through the trials of adolescence is never done and that by leaving we are living out our faith in a very real and normal way. Sometimes dynamic sanctification means physically moving. It is truly bittersweet. So when our friends ask why, I hope to be able to answer articulately, to let them know that we love them and hate to leave, but that this an opportunity not just to experience to new places, but we hope to become new people.