I Left Everything I Knew in the Name of Love

Syndicated

Shortly after I moved to Minnesota, I dropped my basket. I didn't write about it here, or anywhere really, because I was embarrassed. I was finally married, and I was so sad and lonely. What made it even harder is that I really loved being married. I loved finally being with Aaron all the time. To building something real with him.

But I was in no way prepared for how much my life would change.

I try to not look at my Atlanta life through rose-colored glasses, but the reality is, I had a really (really) wonderful life. I was genuinely happy almost all of the time. Meeting Aaron just intensified that, and I was so excited to be married and be with him.

And while we thought about our marriage and not just our wedding -- went to pre-marital sessions and asked the hard questions -- what I didn't give enough heart-prep to was what it would be like to leave behind everything else.


Photo by David Salafia (Flickr).

I went from a little two-bedroom house that I rambled around in with my two dogs, a few miles from one of my best friends, and a short twenty-minute back road commute to a job where I was valued and appreciated; close, loving friendships; an active volunteering schedule; and a church community that was my heart's home to ... none of that.

Between planning a wedding and packing up my entire house (and figuring out what to do with said house in a horrible real estate market), being in a long-distance relationship, and just living my daily life, I hardly let myself think about the fact that once I went to Florida, I wasn't coming back home. I wasn't going to be living there anymore. I wouldn't be able to drive over to Sarah's house during a scary storm, or go watch Adam trick-or-treat, or see Allison sing.

We went to Florida, all my friends and my family and my fiancee, and Aaron and I got married, and the next day we hung out at the pool and there were my Ohio friends and my Atlanta friends, and I realized that this was it: It wasn't just my out-of-town guests that I was going to have to say goodbye to.

Aaron and I had a little mini-honeymoon at the resort where we were married before driving back to Atlanta to pack up my house. We then made the drive north, through Ohio so that I could say goodbye to my dying grandmother, and on to my new state.

We arrived late on a Sunday night to the little basement apartment he'd be renting in his childhood home. We were to move to the upstairs as soon as I could clean it and unpack. The very next day he went back to work, and there I was. A new wife in a little house way out in the country, with only dogs to talk to. I spent weeks turning that little house into our first home, cleaning like I'd never cleaned before.

It was beautiful, oh so beautiful. I tried to think of the pioneers who'd left behind everything to settle this land. But it was so hard.

About a month later I started a new job, and it was an hour drive each way. And as it turned out, my new job, where I was one of three employees in a little office building way out in a western suburb, was a very bad fit. (Very bad.)

Minnesotans are a strange breed. People here are friendly; it's the land of Minnesota Nice, after all. But friendly in the sense that they'll wave to you on the sidewalk and chat you up in the line at Caribou, but they don't really want to be your friend. They have friends, thanks. They met in kindergarten. Their friend card is all full up.

I was in Atlanta for a hot minute before I had lifelong friendships. I walked into that city and was enveloped into a friend circle that I will likely never replicate.

Becoming a Minnesotan can be a lonely road.

So with all the change -- new marriage, death of my last grandparent, a new house, a new job, new pets even -- I got lost for awhile. And very sad.

I had to dig my way out, and I had to pray a lot (a lot) for deliverance. To be delivered from a job and situation that was crushing my spirit to something better. And for God to bring people in my life to be a true community to me. Turns out that there was one solution that was an answer to both.

Once we found a church to call home things got much better much faster. (And it would eventually lead me to a new job and new friends.)

At our son's Harry's first birthday party last November Aaron's cousin asked, after not recognizing many of the people in the room, who everyone was. "My friends," I told her. And it was a gift of a moment, straight from the Giver.

And I see now that those days drew Aaron and I closer together. Everything else was stripped away. We were starting a new life together in a very tangible way. I was hard on him in ways I deeply regret; expecting him to somehow magically replace everything else that I'd left behind.

And I was hard on myself. I didn't give myself enough grace.

I thought of Ruth; did she whine and cry to Naomi that she missed her family, her home? No. Did she self-medicate with Dairy Queen Buster Bars? No. After all, this was my choice. And I made it willingly and happily. It was what I wanted. But it was still okay for me to grieve my old life, and I should've let myself do it well; do it better. Do it with grace.

Instead I just thought that I was broken.

But it had to have been hard for Ruth. It's not easy to go, even when you know you're supposed to. It's never easy. But Ruth was faithful, and God blessed her. Looking around now, almost four years later, it's clear to me how He has blessed me too.

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,"

-- Ruth 1:16

Johanna is a wife, mama, Christ-follower, church staffer, photographer and blogger. She blogs at These Prices, where this post first appeared.

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