“You’re in the valley,” she said. “You’ve seen the high highs and He wants you to learn to walk in the everyday.”
I stared at that text for hours. Wishing it said something like, “You’re not built for the everyday. Go after the high highs…” instead. But it it didn’t. If you know me, you know I’m built for go, go go. You know I’m a mover and a shaker who loves to make big waves and do big things. You know I get bored if I’m sitting still for too long. The ones closest to me also probably know that the “everyday” scares me more than almost anything else in the world. I run from boredom, just like I run from the everyday. In fact, you’d probably say it looks more like a sprint.
I moved to Colorado over 7 months ago. And for the majority of that time, things were new. Exciting. Adventurous. Beautiful. So different than anything I have ever known. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen a lot of those adventures. You’ve seen me smiling and excited and full of joy. And none of it was a show, I promise. Pretty much the day I moved here, I was welcomed into an incredible community with open arms. I wound up with the best roommate (& pseudo roommate) I could ever ask for. We’ve traveled together. Laughed a lot. Cried over boys and missing home. And for a while, all that stuff distracted me from something deeper. Something that’s not quite as exciting to talk about on Instagram. Something that scares me and follows me to bed at night.
My heart aches for New York City.
I miss it so much. I miss the people. Central Park. The way the streets shine at night and make you think that anything is possible. The few sacred moments in the morning when it feels like everyone in the city is still sleeping. The feeling of walking out of your apartment, not knowing where the day is going to take you. Strangely, I miss public transportation. I miss the freakin’ subway. I miss walking to work. Walking under the Christmas lights in Columbus Circle. I miss starting my day with a coffee from JOE. I miss running all the way from the Upper West Side down to Battery Park. I miss watching the sunset over the Hudson. I miss ordering a bacon, egg and cheese from the bodega on the corner and eating it in bed on a Sunday morning. I miss the friend who’d come over with a pint of Talenti whenever one of us had a bad day. I miss the bargain bin of wine on my walk home from work. I miss my favorite local book store. I miss pretending I actually enjoyed “going out” in the East Village. I miss invigorating and intellectual conversations with people who are much, much smarter than me. I miss hanging out with our Young Life kids at “the commons.” I miss buying them all pizza and watching their faces light up. Oh, the pizza. I miss the pizza. I miss the feeling that no matter how hard it is, at the end of the day, everyone is proud to live in New York City. It’s one of the fiercest, smartest, most driven tribes there is. I miss being part of that tribe. So, so much.
“I’m scared of being forgotten,” I told her. “I’m scared of falling behind all the other movers and shakers and big dreamers in that city. I’m scared of being normal for too long. I’m scared that being here means letting those big world-changing dreams of mine go. Of watching people in New York City chase them instead… The valley feels like it’s going to last forever. I’m scared He’ll never let me go back. Am I not just allowed to go back?”
“You are allowed,” she said. “But are you ready to leave?”
Every year on January 1, I write myself a letter. I seal it and on the envelope, I write in big, bold letters, “DO NOT OPEN until January 1 of the following year.” As much as I love writing that letter, the best part about the tradition is actually opening an old letter on that same day. Reading advice and encouragement, hopes and dreams, praise and frustration from the year before. Knowing that even I couldn’t have predicted everything that happened over the course of that year. Talking back to the girl in the letter, “Oh, if only you knew. If only you knew what was in store for you this year.”
Earlier this week, I was cleaning out my room when I found an old letter. A letter I wrote on 1/1/14 and opened on this past January, on 1/1/15. Reading it back, the paper stained with water, it was (in all honesty) hard to hold back tears.
Wow. I am so proud of you. You did a heck ton this year. You live in NEW YORK CITY. You have your DREAM job. Count your blessings, love, you’ve got it all. I encourage you to be courageous this year. Open your heart, take risks (no, I mean it, really take risks, BIG risks). Make people fall in love with your spirit, your zest for life, your faith, your strength, your love, your attitude, your positive outlook. It’s incredible how much a little prayer and positivity can do. Reconnect with old friends this year, pray daily, be HERE and NOW, always in the moment. No regrets, no excuses. So much love to you.
The girl in that letter feels almost like she’s a million miles away. Like she’s living a different life, in a different place, with different people by her side. But in a lot of ways, she’s the same too. Sure, she lived in a different zip code, walked miles in flats over jumping in a car and taking the express way, but at her core, that girl is still very much the same.
She’s got a big heart. She knows she struggles with vulnerability and things that come at her unplanned. (But hey, she’s making progress. She did move across the country, so I’d say that’s a win in the risk-taking book.) She’s a planner. She’s got the next five steps figured out before she’s thinking about taking even one. She cares about people. She chases those big, crazy, outrageous, and sometimes challenging dreams of hers. She looks forward instead of gazing back at the past. She knows life isn’t going to be easy. But she’s got a plan, and a Father who’s ready to hold her when she can’t hold herself. When she’s done all she can and that still isn’t enough. When she doubts a major decision, her heart aches for something she walked away from just a few months ago, she can take comfort in knowing that leap and that risk would be just a very small story in a chapter book full of adventures. She knows His plan is better, and He wants the world for her. And she trusts that He’ll never leave her high and dry. That He’ll grant her all the desires of her heart one day.
“Babe, God isn’t a feeling,” she said. “He’s with you-no matter where you choose. He won’t leave you broken. He’s more than New York City.”
Even though life looks WAY different than that girl pictured it would two years ago, this letter (and that text) gives this girl a little bit of hope. Because that girl knows what she wants. She’s focused on all the right things. She’ll get to where she needs to go. She’ll find “home” again. She’ll make it back to that place that lights her heart and soul on fire. She’s confident in that. She’s confident that even though sometimes He’s hard to find, He won’t ever leave her side. He’ll teach her things, invite her on stage and ask her to make big choices.
He’ll look at her and say, “Pick one. We’ll figure it out together. It’s going to be hard and messy and may not look like you think it will, but it will also be beautiful. Stay in the valley, or leave the valley, but more than anything else I want you to know that life is about more than the high highs. So much more.”
She’s changed, and she’s grown, but she still believes in herself. And as hard as it is to live with a deep sense of longing, He wants her to sit in that feeling. But He wants her to long for Him, above all else. Above the lights and the commotion and the energy of the city. Even if she ends up back there, He wants her heart, first.