Jodi used to tell me that life was about becoming. She would tell me this over coffee, as she was encouraging and challenging me in all things mentorship. She challenged me to be less-hard on myself, and always enter relationships first with selfless and then with love. Jodi, a fierce advocate for teenagers especially those with disabilities, did this well. Transforming, trusting and becoming with each new season of her life.
Becoming means that nothing remains stagnant. Instead, life (and the adventures that entail) are fluid and ever-changing. That you move with change, instead of struggling against it. Becoming is being dedicated to this wild, unpredictable process and letting yourself be transformed by it.
I wanted this, and I had tasted bits of this “becoming” but never in the way I truly wanted. Then I decided to move to Richmond.
Richmond is a gritty city, where poverty and lavishness collide on street corners. Where “Old Ways” of the South clash with progressiveness of the North. It is a city of contradictions, not easily explained or packaged. Nonetheless, I felt drawn to it.
The move in itself felt risky. The logistics were a nightmare (how do you move a furniture set, a life AND a cat) in one car. There were more questions than answers. (What will class/friendships/school/work/church look like? Answer: NO CLUE.) It was clear that I didn’t choose the option that made the most sense.
Although, there was a steadiness in my heart, a knowing that I cannot describe. It just said: yes, this will be okay.
A cat and car ride later, my mom and I arrived in the city. My mom left me a week later and I cried the ENTIRE night. I doubted the three months of planning and missed my family more than I thought possible. That night, Dar told me to set a goal for myself. We both decided that the goal would be to go to Target before the next day. A baby step in the wide scope of change.
I realized that it was here, in these tiny steps that Richmond became my home, where I was transformed by this process; I was becoming.
I realized that risk, the art of not knowing ANYTHING about anything is the first ingredient. Then humility, (which is being okay with not knowing) is the next step. Then, like my brother Mac told me- just follow people around for the first week. Creepy, but helpful advice when you are new on campus.
There is always an invitation to risk. When Jesus is calling Peter out to the waters, he says to his dear friend “Come.” A call for faith that is lived out as the turbulent waters and the wind remained present. Challenge always follows risk and requires us to act. Action requires our feet to get out of the boat and onto unsteady waters. It is saying “yes” to growth and change. I promise you, it always uncomfortable, usually the second choice- but always so good.
Risk is the foundation for joyful surprises. I know that is not what you wanted to hear, as it was not what I wanted to discover. In my heart of hearts, I wanted my parents to cook me delicious meals the rest of my life and I wanted to spend every day with Currie and Nico until they graduated from life. Beautiful, unrealistic dreams for my future.
Here I am. In a city that I have adopted, ever so cautiously. 8 states away from my family (we counted.) And many questions still mostly unanswered.
Before Jesus calls Peter onto the water, he says “Take courage, I am here.”
Grace is always tethered to healthy risk. It is the steady hand, the unexpected gifts and unexplainable peace. Grace is the idea that we don’t have to do hard things alone, with God and our crew we are stronger than we know. Grace was a phone call back home, a “check in” text message, getting places without GPS. All of these things feel like sweet relief in the midst of ultimate newness.
Richmond has been full of joyful surprises. I was quickly surrounded by a group of friends who I never expected. Feisty, smart, hilarious women. Ana has an unmovable strength and a habit of telling it like it is. Corinne and Adriane are witty, joyful people. Corinne has a deep obsession with ALL animals. Adriane calls her mom as much as I do. Taylor guards our hearts with great intention and Daisa reminds us about the beauty of shaking it off. These are my Richmond people. These folks are sweet gifts from the Lord. A surprise that has tempered the consistent fear and provided light to my wandering feet.
On Tuesday, I left the most beautiful worship night at church. Lately, I have felt the undercurrent of gratitude. I am thankful for my team back home who has cheered me on every step on the way, for they have given me the courage to step onto the unpredictable waters. I am thankful for the new and old. The good stuff and the hard stuff.
And I have realized that in order to become, we must be willing to risk. Risk, challenge, grace: repeat.