Have you ever been mad at God? Silly question, right? We all have. But have you ever felt like He led you astray? Like He gave you a “gift” that can only be called that with quotations around it to show exactly how much of a gift you think it is? That’s exactly how I’ve felt for the last few years.
God gave me the “gift” of living in Nashville, far away from my home in Colorado, and I’ve been mad at Him ever since.
The problem is, I didn’t realize just how mad I was until I was back home visiting earlier this year.
I was in Boulder, where I went to college, visiting the church that became my home there. My best friend Kelsey is the assistant director at the college ministry there now, and as often as I can, I go back to visit.
Well, this particular time, I was waiting for Kelsey to get out of a meeting so we could go to lunch, when I snuck down to the church sanctuary for a few quiet moments alone with God.
Now, I get that God is everywhere, and I believe that a park bench is just as holy as a church building. But something about that sanctuary is extra holy to me. God feels extra close in that room because of the ways He changed me, transformed me completely in the years I spent in it.
I climbed up into the balcony that overlooks the sanctuary, and as I sat there, I started to pray. But they weren’t grateful prayers, reminiscent prayers, reflective prayers. They were hissed prayers, angry prayers, prayers that said, “This is so unfair, God, how could you do this to me?”
I feel at home in Colorado, in that church in Boulder. And as I sat there that day, I felt absolutely furious and wronged that these days, they aren’t my home anymore.
The truth is, I never meant to move to Nashville. I never meant to move down to the south at all.
I moved to Georgia after I finished a year long mission trip on the contingency that it would only be for six months. “I’ll give the south six months of my life,” I thought haughtily. “And then I’m moving back to Colorado.”
But then, on my first day of work in the dreaded south, I met a man named Carl Wilson — and just a month or so later, we started dating. And… I know you know how this one ends… that guy Carl Wilson is now my husband.
So this job that I only planned on keeping for six months or so led to me meeting my husband, which of course meant that I wasn’t in any hurry to high tail it out of there. I was attached, rooted, ready to stay for awhile. Falling in love does that to you. Right?
But then, on a Thursday morning in March, just a few months before our wedding, we each got called into a meeting only to find out that we’d both been let go from our jobs. But it wasn’t just us. Most of our department, and most of our friends were let go too.
In the span of 10 minutes, we went from being settled with a plan, to totally at loose ends.
It was awful, horrible, heartbreaking. But it also contained a tiny glimmer of hope. Maybe this was the moment I could finally move back home.
So we started applying for jobs in Colorado — we reached out everywhere we could think of — we really put our best foot forward. But we heard crickets in response.
No actual responses, no, “You’re not the right fit, but thanks for applying.” We just heard nothing.
Colorado — no matter how much I wanted it to — was not going to pan out. Not this time.
And so we went back to the drawing board. And then with a half a job between us, we decided that Nashville would be our next move. We packed up all of our things, and moved to this new city and new state the weekend before our wedding. Transition upon transition.
And at first, it all felt exciting. Nashville felt like this creative frontier — a place full of possibilities, and connections, and friends to be made.
But after awhile, the newness wore off, and loneliness settled in. I didn’t know anyone here, I didn’t have anything really connecting me here, and that’s when I started to long for Colorado more than ever before.
Every few months I’d come home for a visit, and people would ask me excitedly how I was liking Nashville. I know they expected me to say, “We’re really loving it!” and to tell them about the latest musician we’d just seen in a small venue or even just walking down the street.
But I was so miserable, I couldn’t even muster up pleasantries.
“It’s fine,” I’d say tiredly. “But I’m ready to come home.”
And that’s how I felt for 14 months. Tired, lonely, ready to come home, and increasingly resentful of this town that I never meant to move to. I’d drive through town and think, “How did I even end up here? This isn’t my place. I want to go HOME.”
And that’s exactly what I told God that day from my seat in the balcony of my favorite sanctuary. “God, I am ready to go home. I’m tired of living in Nashville. Please bring us back — why can’t we move back!?”
And then I realized something. It was one of those realizations that really hurts because of how true it is, and because it brings you face to face with a part of you you didn’t notice before.
I was living with absolutely zero faith.
God was all over our move to Nashville. He provided in all kinds of unbelievable ways, including the fact that Nashville was the only door that opened to us out of countless that we knocked on.
Nashville was it — it was where God was leading us — and He’d been telling me through sermons, through other people, and through the whisper in my heart that I could hear when I’d slow down enough to listen, that He has us in Nashville for a reason.
And even if I couldn’t see that reason yet, it didn’t mean it wasn’t there.
I hated to admit that. And even more, I hated to admit how ungrateful and how resistant I’d been to Nashville for so long.
I held it by two fingers, away from my body, like a dirty diaper headed for the trash. I didn’t let it close, didn’t look it in the eye, didn’t try to make any kind of connection, didn’t even want to admit that maybe, just maybe, there could be something in this town for me.
But there in that balcony, I realized something.
I realized that I have no idea how much longer we’ll be in Nashville. We could be here for the rest of our lives or God could tell us to move home next week. But regardless, Nashville is a gift that God gave to us for a purpose. And if we were to move next week, I would be so ashamed and have so many regrets about how many months I just squandered that gift.
The truth is — it’s really hard to be away from home. Moving sounds glamorous until you do it, and until you need your phone to give you directions to the grocery store for months upon months.
It sounds glamorous until you realize you don’t know anything about your new town, that there are places, and customs, and things people do that you’re totally oblivious to.
It sounds glamorous until you realize how lonely you are, and until you realize that it’s a long road to make new friends in a whole new place. It’s just not easy.
Nashville has been a really hard thing for me. It was easier to travel around the world for a year than it’s been to settle in Nashville and to dare to call it home.
But that day, in the balcony overlooking my real home, I realized that God has never failed me.
When I open my hands and accept what He has for me, when I give Him a pinch of faith, and a splash of courage, and decide to follow where He leads, He always takes me somewhere amazing. I’m always astounded, and never disappointed.
And I realized that Nashville is probably the exact same thing set to country music — God’s same faithfulness in just another season of life.
And so I decided to make a change. I decided to invest in Nashville for as long as I’m here. I decided to accept the gift, to open my hands, to hold it close to my chest, and to look it in the eye.
And since that day in the balcony overlooking the sanctuary, I really have.
A few months later I was in Colorado again, sitting in that balcony overlooking a place that will always feel like home. But this time, something in my chest felt different, and it still does even today. I’m not angry anymore, and I no longer feel like God replaced my home with a really bad gift.
I don’t feel like He’s keeping me in Nashville against my will, and I don’t feel like He took my home away from me, despite my cries and pleas to keep it.
Instead, I feel like I have two homes tucked safely and warmly inside my chest.
I live in Nashville, and I’m really okay with that now. It’s a wonderful town and I’m blessed to live here. But Colorado is also home. It always has been, and it always will be.
And somehow, by the grace of God, I’m realizing I can have two homes. They can both exist in my heart and my life. And I’m grateful.
God really does give the very best gifts. Even when we can’t see the goodness in them right away, it’s there. It is for me, and it is for you too. I promise, and even better, so does He.
Have you ever wrestled with God over something like this? Have you ever been angry with Him for giving you what feels like a bad gift? How have you seen God’s faithfulness and goodness even when it didn’t look like goodness at first? Pop your thoughts in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear your stories!
P.S. If you could use some help trusting God’s plans for your life (or help figuring out what those plans might be!) I have just the thing. (Make sure to check it out soon. We only have a few left!)