Two nights ago I dreamed of my family. It didn’t matter that the kids collectively woke me up four different times, each time I slipped back into the broken REM cycle, my mind would take me back to California and parties by the pool. I have a very large extended family, but I was able to see all of them in one night. Every aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent. I even dreamed of my late Grandma Toni, who died almost 10 years ago. I was crying in the dream when I saw her, because my sub conscience still remembered that she was dead. The activities in the dreams were of little consequence. We weren’t doing anything important; we were just hanging out. But the point of the dreams wasn’t about the activities, it was about the people, about the relationships that I miss so much. They were about walking into a place and instantly knowing that you belong there because you’re surrounded by a bond that runs in your blood and flows through your heart.
When my husband and I decided to uproot our family and move 2,000 miles away to Wisconsin, it wasn’t received well by some of my family. They were hurt by our choice and in turn, hurt me. Things got so bad that I didn’t really get homesick when we first moved. But I have since made up with those members of my family, and feel like those wounds that had cut so deep are now healed.
My husband and I are going through a very difficult season of life right now; have been for almost a year now. For most of that time, we’ve been trying to get through it alone. I think I was still self conscious in a way because we had left California on such negative terms. There was this subconscious pressure hanging in the back of my head that we had to be successful in Wisconsin to prove ourselves. In the last month we’ve finally opened up about what we’ve been going through to family and friends and they have flooded us with love and support. That emotional support system has made a huge impact on our current situation, but it unfortunately doesn’t help with dishes and can’t watch the kids to give me a break once in awhile. Not that we’re completely alone here; my in-laws live 10 minutes away and are always helping us. But there’s only so much that 2 people can do. I feel like I need a village of people to help me right now. For the first time in the year and a half since we’ve moved, I finally feel each and every one of those 2,000 miles in a painful ache in my soul.
I had a bit of a breakdown last week and I screamed at God, “Why does it have to be so fucking hard?!”
Yes, I sometimes get very real with God.
He didn’t respond.
Then at church that Sunday, the pastor spoke about seasons of exile. In the Bible there are plenty of times where the Israelites were cast into foreign lands and stripped of everything they had. Every time it happened, they always came running back to God. My pastor said that exile doesn’t always have to be so literal as being conquered by a foreign country; it could be depression, cancer, loss of employment. He said that exile is the place where pride is crushed, leaving us in a position of solitude that forces us to say,
‘Christ is all I have’
Going even further, exile also teaches us that Christ is all we need.
My husband and I prayed hard about moving, and felt God lead us over here. He knew that we were going to go through this difficult time in a land that is not my own. He gently led us into this exile, and although it is an extremely hard place to be, I know that He has not left us. More over, I know that He will see us through to a season of happiness.
Despite how difficult it is to be so far away from family and friends, I do not regret moving here. I love our house and our neighborhood, and still firmly believe that this is the best place for us to raise our family. We’ve made friends, and over time we will build another tribe over here. No amount of miles could ever actually separate us from our family in California, because our bond runs in our blood. We are with each other in spirit; deep down, I know that I don’t need the visual confirmation to feel that love.
If you are also walking through a season of exile, I want to encourage you. Even though you feel completely alone, you are not. God is forever your companion, and He has promised to never leave you. I am also here for you. If you need prayer or just someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.