The other night, one of my friends asked me what it was like to be on the verge.
It was a great question for a few reasons, but partially because it was one of those questions I really had to think about. My initial response was “it sucks,” but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t a simple answer. Yes, some parts about it sucks. But there are other parts that are awesome.
Later that night, I drove back to my parents house. I chose to take a slightly longer route, pretty much for nostalgic reasons. I took Lakeland Drive, which pretty much serves as memory lane for me. I passed by my high school, the road I turned on to get to my friends houses in high school, and the Wendy’s I used to stop at every time I drove home from said friends’ houses. I passed by the movie theater we went to after high school football games, and I drove through that stupid roundabout by the airport that turned out to be such a bad idea they went in and built a whole new overpass so people wouldn’t have to drive through the roundabout anymore. In a weird way, it felt like the end of an era.
Jackson is my home. I mean, technically I grew up in Brandon. My parents live in Brandon. But since 7th grade, my social life has centered around Jackson. It’s where I went to school, it’s where my friends lived, it’s where pretty much every important thing that happened to me since I was 11 or 12 happened. And even though I spent seven wonderful years in Oxford, Jackson truly felt like home. Maybe because college was one of those experiences I have been able to take with me, but high school and growing up was one I left there. Driving back through that part of town always felt like I was reliving it. Not in a “I’m almost 30 and still can’t let go of the glory days” kind of way, but in a “man, those were good days” kind of way.
But now…it’s not. It will always be where I’m from, and at present it’s only an hour away. But I don’t live there anymore. My life has taken an interesting turn, and now I live somewhere else. At any point in my life, if you would have told me that I’d wind up in Brookhaven, Mississippi, I would have told you that you were crazy. But that’s exactly where I am.
And that’s why being on the verge sucks. Because I know that as my life begins to focus more on Brookhaven, it will focus less on Jackson. Yes, memories will always be around. Yes, family and friends will always be there. And yes, there will always be a sense in which it is “home,” and for that I am thankful. But still…leaving all of that behind is not easy. It is, in fact, quite hard.
But like I said, the more I thought about the question, the more I realized there wasn’t a simple answer. Because while everything I just wrote was true, and being on the verge sucks, it’s also awesome. When I stop and consider the fact that I have a job, a healthy church, and a new adventure in front of me, my mind gets pretty blown. I mean I can’t believe it! When I think about the changes that are coming in the year ahead, it’s like it’s not even real. But it is.
It’s always funny to me how God shapes our paths. It wasn’t that long ago that I was nervously thinking ahead to 2013, trying to figure out how to pay some bills and finish seminary. Brookhaven was as far away from my mind as…well…something far away from my mind. But now that’s where I am, and that’s where I’ll be for a while. And I am thankful for a God that not only sees the big picture, but a God who is willing to lead a stubborn, short sighted wretch like me to new, beautiful places.
So as I leave behind one home and prepare for another, I think about what it means to be on the verge. And I hope there’s a sense in which I’ll always be on it. I hope there’s a sense in which I’ll always be ready for the next step, eager and yearning for whatever God has in store for me next (because that is, after all, the Christian’s great hope…the ultimate end that God has in store for those in Christ). But I also hope I’m not always there. I hope that, until that time comes for the next new beginning, I’ll make some new memories. I’ll fall in love with some new places, and I’ll have some new friends I’m sad to leave behind.
As far as I can tell, being sad to leave somewhere behind means it was a pretty good place to be.
Jackson was a pretty good place to be.