Don’t Forget Your Roots

I decided to uproot my life and move to Maryland on the basis of two short visits and a Twitter poll (it beat out Nashville and Lakeland with an 86% majority). Three months ago I left Lakeland with my parents and more stuff than any 22-year-old should have, stopped to cry in a Cracker Barrel bathroom, and made it to Howard County less sure about this move than ever.

More than a few times in the months leading up to moving I texted Bailie, “tell me I’m making the right decision.” On March 19th, she sent me this:

If you move here, you will be surrounded by a solid handful of people (and more, who you haven’t even met yet) who will house you, clothe you, feed you, and encourage you in ways you maybe didn’t even know you needed encouragement. I’m one of them, and I also experienced that upon moving here. It will be hard, for sure, I know this from experience too, but if you make sure you grow your own roots deeply, things will work out beautifully for you.

And here I sit, five months later, in an apartment I share with two girls I didn’t know existed then but couldn’t imagine my life without now.

I’m luckier than I should be, luckier than most, to move somewhere and so easily have people who house me and clothe me and feed me without stopping to think. I’ve felt loved the past few months in ways I didn’t know I was lacking, been supported in ways both tangible and not. I received a welcome upon moving here that was less of a celebration and more of just an open seat, a place for me to feel comfortable and included with no hesitation.

And I’ve been reminded this summer of grace. Not only is it on the side of the church building I frequent, but I’ve come to feel its transforming weight on me again and again. I sat in a summer camp debrief a few weeks ago and listened to a girl tell a story, the type of story I’ve heard plenty of times before, in which she related to a friend that God doesn’t require anything of us to work in us, that we don’t need to cleanse ourselves to come to him, that any moment is the right moment to turn back to God–and my Southern Baptist self felt all the weight of shame and guilt fall away.

Years of work, of prayers repeated and books read and minors in religion gained, and suddenly it’s all for nothing. My simple, broken self, full of misguided attempts at perfection and even more misguided dives into destruction, is welcomed into not just a community but a Kingdom.

I don’t have a “rock bottom” or a grand narrative to my story, just the ebb and flow of daily life and seasons. School and structure are good for me, free time makes me anxious, and the people around me influence me a little more than I like to think. But the summertime blues are all but gone this year, and I’m feeling the first day of school excitement a little less. My deep-rooted worries still pull at me, but a little guiding peace is keeping me in check. I’ve fallen asleep without trouble every single night this past week, something I wouldn’t have thought possible six months ago. My last summer self might roll her eyes at the Hannah that found God again (or the Hannah that leads middle schoolers on youth retreats), but I can’t second-guess something that holds me so tightly.

August 2016 and I’m more sure than ever.