When I was seven, my father decided to enroll in seminary to become a minister, which meant that our family moved from a four-plus bedroom house to a five-room campus apartment. The apartment was tiny, and had an odd layout because it had been pieced together from single-student dorm rooms. Our bathroom was dormitory style, complete with a toilet stall, and our kitchen had no sink. We lived there four years, and for that whole time, my deepest desire was to move back to my old house. Even now, I still have fond memories of living in that house, and feel a twinge of longing whenever I’m in my old neighborhood and drive by it.
So when I heard that my old house was going for sale, my first thought was that I could actually buy it now (if I could talk my husband into it) and move right back in. For a while, it was exciting to realize that I was finally in a position to make one of my strongest childhood dreams come true. But it wasn’t long before I realized that I didn’t really want to move back there anymore.
It’s still a wonderful house, with bright and spacious rooms, hardwood floors and lots of original woodwork, and it’s going to make somebody a fabulous new home. But I’m no longer the kid living in a cramped apartment and longing to return to her former home. I’m all grown up now (and then some), and am quite happy in the house I’ve been living in for the past twenty years. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that moving out of that house wasn’t quite the tragedy I remembered.
It was tough to downsize as drastically as we did, to have to give our beloved dog to family friends, and leave my familiar neighborhood behind. But moving to seminary housing meant I had a huge campus to roam, and a constant stream of new friends (sometimes from other countries) as the families of new students moved in. And after my dad graduated, we moved to rural Kansas were I learned first-hand what small-town life is like. That was a hard adjustment at first, but it was also where I finally got the horse I’d always been wanting and where I made strong friendships that have continued to this day.
I have moved many times in my life, sometimes through choice and sometimes from necessity. And there was a time when I thought my life would have been so much better if I had just stayed in one place, and been spared the pain of leaving friends, family, and familiar surroundings behind. But I have come to realize that there was something good that came from each move, and that each and every place I have lived has helped shape me into who I am today.
Life is often referred to as a journey, and I believe that is a good description. Sometimes my path has been smooth, and sometimes it’s been rocky, but either way, it has led me to exactly where I am now. From the hard times, I learned that I was much stronger and more resilient than I had ever realized. From the good times, I gained beautiful memories that will always be with me as I forge ahead. All of it had a hand in shaping the person I have become, even if I didn’t appreciate it at the time.
Through a series of happy circumstances, I was invited to visit my old house the other day, and got to walk through all the rooms I remembered so well. It was a wonderful, if slightly surreal, experience. I still love that house, and I think I always will. But I won’t try to go back to it. It’s someone else’s turn to live there now…..