Just a few weeks after moving to Charlotte, I took an uncharacteristic leap and signed up to attend a women’s retreat for a church that I’d only attended a handful of times. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I showed up knowing a handful of people’s names and left feeling like I had the beginnings of real community in a new place.
The first night, I started talking to a woman who coincidentally didn’t attend the church. I mentioned being new to town, and before I knew it, all of my pent-up emotions about the transition to a new place rose to the surface—worrying how I’d survive working remotely, how I’d make deep friends during a “later in life” transition, how I’d know where to land in a city bigger than any I’d lived in before.
She listened carefully, patiently, and said after a while, “I think your anxieties are coming from looking backward and forward instead of focusing on today. When you look backward, it’s easy to compare your current reality to how much happier you were with more friends, a better work situation, deeper roots. And then it’s easy to project onto the future, thinking you’ll never have those things again. But I think the question is really: What has God provided today?”
I have thought of those words again and again that have come with the roller coaster that is Year One of living in a new place. And as a result, I have seen God provide in smaller (but no less significant) ways than I’ve ever been attuned to before—in the spontaneous call of a friend, in a lunchtime walk in the sun in March, in a remote work buddy, in a church community that has loved and embraced me, in new friends in unexpected places, in an invigorating run on an anxious day.
My friend Meredith McDaniel talks about this in her new book In Want and Plenty, in which she shares her journey of learning to look for the daily manna God provides rather than stewing over what we wish He would provide. “Opening our hands to what Jesus has for us in the moment versus what we think we need brings peace,” she writes.
For me, 2019 was a long and grueling year of trying to build community in a new place while working remotely, traveling too much, and an agonizing job search. But 2020 has already felt like a brighter, fresher season, and I can already see the temptation to shrug off the daily nearness I felt with God until the next crisis arises.
There’s a Rend Collective song that I listened to on repeat in the fall called Weep With Me, and one of my favorite lines in it is, “What’s true in the light is still true in the dark.” But these days, I’ve been thinking of it in reverse: What’s true in the dark is still true in the light. And what’s true, in matter the season, is that I need Him, day by day, hour by hour. Oh how we need Him.