There was a brief moment about ten years ago when we considered moving away from Nebraska. Back then, Kel and I were both working for the same insurance company. A recruiter approached my husband and invited him out to Raleigh where he was given a tour of the office, introduced to his potential new boss, and taken around town to look at houses. Within days of his visit, they offered him the position with a raise. On top of that, since I worked for the same company, they even offered to help place me in a new position as well.
We didn’t love the idea of moving across the country, but we figured it would be foolish to not at least consider the possibility. I mean, how often does that type of opportunity present itself?! Especially when you aren’t seeking it out. So we talked about it. We gave them our terms. To which they almost completely agreed. But not entirely. We took it as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be and that was that.
It isn’t a time that we look back on with pride. I mean, sure as young twenty-something-year-olds the thought of being recruited certainly strokes the ego. But we’ve grown up enough since then to know we behaved a bit naively. Foolish even. And anyway, the puffed-up wind in our sails was quickly deflated when just a few months later the company down-sized.
At the time, our desire to stay near family ultimately took precedence. Our first nephew was a year old and we were anticipating that “any day now” we would have a little of our own who deserved to grow up spending plenty of time with cousins and grandparents.
Years later, “that time we almost moved to North Carolina” is little more than a distant memory. There hasn’t been a single moment of regret. But there have been times when I’d find myself wondering about what might have been. We spent almost a decade watching the lives of everyone around us change significantly. Yet there we were… in almost the exact. same. place. Our beloved rut. As much as we cherish the experiences and memories made close to home, about a year ago it occurred to us that we’d been so preoccupied with not missing out on a single moment in the lives our loved ones, that perhaps we were missing out on our own. Perhaps God had another purpose for our lives. So when the possibility of moving away was once again on the table, we weren’t so quick to dismiss it.
Deep down, I think that both the Mister and I knew we were being called away. And though I’m not certain that you can ever know that something is going to happen until it does, we spent months feeling as though our days in Nebraska were numbered. The last thing we wanted was for family to be shocked if and when that time came, so we began talking more openly about the possibility that although we didn’t know when, where, why, or how, it just felt like we were going to be leaving. It was gut-wrenchingly difficult to explain to the people we cherish most in this world that we were actively seeking out the opportunity to leave them. Especially when we were having a hard time making sense of it ourselves.
As I’ve mentioned perhaps too many times already, the waiting, the being still, the uncertainty… it was hard for us. But there was a lot of beauty in it too. Not the least of which was this new-found gratitude for the good life that was right in front of us. It isn’t every day that one’s eyes are opened in such a way. In fact, taking for granted and a lack of appreciation are more the norm in this day and age. Yet because we were pursuing opportunities elsewhere, we were growing increasingly aware of common blessings that we might be saying goodbye to, and as such, were more intentional to take it in as much as we could. We stayed seated a little longer at the dinner table to enjoy extended conversation with Grandma, we made a point to unplug in order to be fully present when spending time with loved ones, and we even remained close to home for our annual vacation to be tourists in a state we’d lived in our entire lives.
That getaway came at the perfect time. Autumn was quickly approaching and though it had been a summer of less activity than most, we were thankful for a few days to clear our heads and enjoy a little us time. It was early September and Kel had applied for just two positions. One in Murfreesboro, TN and the other right where we were in Lincoln, NE. He’d gone through both the first and second interviews for the Midwest position and had yet to hear back anything since submitting an application to the South. We’d begun accepting that we were likely going to stay put after all, and with that came a whole new wave of emotional distress. There was relief that we wouldn’t be moving far from family and also a little embarrassment that we had even told others about the possibility that we might be leaving to begin with – not to mention the fact that we had waited around all summer and had nothing to show for it. Admittedly, we were even a little disappointed to give up on that dream of a new adventure together.
At least we had gained a new appreciation for what was right in our back yard all along. If nothing else, that was one positive result of the entire process.
We were at gas station in Small-Town Western Nebraska when Kelly got the call. It was a voice-mail, actually, because we had spent much of our day so deep in to the middle-of-nowhere that we were just getting the alert now that we were back in a service area. Before even listening to the message, the location of the caller gave us pause. Murfreesboro, TN. We had waited so long for that call that the coincidental area code alone wasn’t convincing. Yet when the request for a job interview echoed over the speaker, we both fell silent upon realizing that the possibility actually still existed.
In the weeks that followed, Kel would go on to interview via web-conference twice. That made for a total of four interviews, two possible positions, and one looming question of whether we should be searching for our next home just down the street, or 900 miles away.
Anyone who has ever put their pride on the line for a job and then waited for feedback understands the emotional battle that ensues throughout the in-between. You hold out hope and yet attempt to only allow so much desire to creep in so as to limit the possible impact of rejection. It was in that limbo that we found ourselves once again confronted with the need to practice more patience than we previously thought possible. Each day was more difficult to wait as we rapidly approached – for the second time – the date that marked 60 days remaining on our short-term lease. Once again, we needed to make a decision on whether to extend it for another month, or put in our notice to vacate. Once again, the lack of any contact from Tennessee gave us reason to believe that the possibility had expired. Once again, we found ourselves pleading for answers.
It was a Sunday morning in late September 2015 when a phone call forever changed our lives. It wasn’t the call we had been hoping for. It was the kind of call that puts in to perspective just how trivial things like pride and anxiety about where we are going to store our belongings are. My family gathered in the ICU waiting room as together we faced the reality that the future was out of our hands. In ways we may never fully understand, God’s timing is ultimately perfect. And though bits of consolation can be found in that knowledge, it simply cannot remove the pain.
In the days that followed, I couldn’t help but reflect on my lasts with Grandma. The last time I sat with her one on one and had a conversation about the Grandpa I never met. The phone call to ask for her pickle recipe when we ended up talking about what it looked like to be obedient to the Lord even through uncertainty. The look on her face at that last family gathering around a campfire when us cousins shared stories about what an amazing Grandmother she’d been. All of those moments were gifts that may not have existed had it not been for our purposefulness to spend as much time with family as possible.
Returning home from the funeral exhausted and emotionally drained, we had finally reached the end of ourselves. For the first time in six months, we completely surrendered the possibility that we were being called to move elsewhere. We had less than two months to find our next home in Nebraska, and we vowed to start searching more intently first thing Monday morning.
Coming up, in the conclusion next week:
“We’ve been Tennesseans for over five months now and it’s crazy to think that we’ve already owned a home in the South for longer than we lived as renters uncertain about their next move. It’s just another reminder that although being in the midst of it may feel like an eternity, it turns out to be but a blink of an eye once it’s all said and done.”