I was in need of a road trip, and upon promising two friends that I would visit them, I took a day off work and set out down south Georgia and into Florida. As I sometimes do, I over planned, and under budgeted my time. I had a birthday party to attend that Saturday night and was convinced that crunching two visits in not even two days was somehow enough.
A beautiful February day it was, sun shining, spring lurking in light hybernation, ready to be awakened at moment’s notice.
I felt excited, about the weather, the trip, the sunshine. I felt excited at anticipation of visiting old friends, two of whom I only get to see a couple of times a year. Music blaring, I took on the road, as I always do, a little too fast. I was pulled over not even an hour into my drive.
“Didn’t you see me?” Asked the cop. “No sir”, I said. “I wouldn’t have been speeding, if I did”, I thought to myself.
One ticket. A little unnerved, I drove on.
After a nice visit with my friend in Columbus, I rushed out to leave there at dusk, to set out on my 3 hour drive to Florida. The road between Columbus, GA and Gulf Breeze, Florida, was bumpy, and between glimpses of beautiful sunset and patches of uneven road, I grew weary, and all that was positive about making the trip began to wane.Nighttime fell, and the winding last 45 minute of road in Florida left me wanting to get there even faster. Why didn’t I leave earlier? I thought, before the sunset, why didn’t I leave earlier that morning, so I could have spent more time with my friend, I was tired, and a 6 hour trip in one day had gotten to me.
I made it to Gulf Breeze. The comfort of the presence and the smiles of old friends dissipated the weariness. But it was around ten, and we were all exhausted. The girls were in bed, and we all followed suite. Having a good night’s sleep would revitalize me. I was wrong. I was still tired the next morning. And the anticipation of the day’s trip back settled in on me like a big rock. My day became the countdown of what time I would have to leave to make the party that night. It stressed me out. My friends wanted me to stay, Makayla (my “adopted” niece we’ll call her) wanted me to stay. I didn’t really want to be on the road for 6 more hours. I wanted to spend more time with them. We reminisced about high school, and how our experience of living in Germany as military brats had shaped us into people that don’t necessarily “fit in” with a lot of people here in States. Nostalgia grew and the bond that is always there, and is only strengthened when we converse, set in. I didn’t want to go. But I promised I’d be at the party. I bought a dress. It matched the theme. All my “other” friends would be there. Conflicted. Thrown back into a whirlwind of “I don’t knows”, which I have learned to tame, came rushing back at me.
I texted the guy I was seeing at the time. What did he want me to do? Like somehow that would make my decision up for me. I wanted him to say “whatever makes you happier”, but that’s not what he said. And that was a question I should have asked myself. What made me happy at that precious right then and there moment was that bond with my friends. I was tired, and I knew I wouldn’t get to see them until months later. I decided I had to leave, which made them a little melancholy. I asked for directions to the beach, to get a glimpse of that precious body of water that always gives my heart peace, and I set out. My decision tugged at my heart, because I wanted to do both. I wanted to be in both places at once, not having asked myself the million dollar question of which would make me happier whilst doing the most good of all involved? I drove into the Gulf Breeze area, parked the car, took my shoes off, and dug my feet in the sand. I only had ten or 15 minutes. This time constraint tugging at me. I didn’t want to leave. I looked out…stillness. I breathed it in, and tried to capture that picture in my brain. I took a picture with my phone. At this point, I didn’t want any friends, I just wanted to sit there…..all afternoon. I got back in the car. Reluctantly, I drove away, away from the water, away from my friends. I choked up. 15 minutes out of the city, I wanted to turn the car back around and go back to them.
Was I doing something wrong? Do I really “belong”? Why am I here? What am I doing here? I just wanted to be comforted by the familiar. Should I be somewhere else, doing some greater good? I texted them, yes, while driving, and then I called my mom. The tears were in my throat. What the heck was I doing? I never told her I went all the way to Florida. She never would have condoned such a long trip in such a short time. As a mom always knows, she could tell I was upset. I wanted to cry, but not outloud, not to her. “I don’t know if I belong here, but I don’t know where else I belong”, I told her. We spoke for a good fifteen minutes and hung up.
Yet again, in my flustered state I sped off on the highway, and wouldn’t you know it, was pulled over. I lost it. By the time the police officer walked over to me, I was bawling. I didn’t care. I’m sure my make up was smeared, and I was heaving. He was very polite, as he sat in his car and did whatever he needed to do, I cried and heaved, and tried to fix my make up between the tears. He came back over. “Here you go ma’am. I knocked down the limit so you just have to pay the ticket. Please slow down and be careful.”
I think I managed a grin. He must have surely thought I was a crazy female with raging hormones. At least I was sure he didn’t think I was just faking it to get out of the ticket. No one can fake cries like that.
Two tickets in two days. This had to be a sign. This WAS a sign. Why was I rushing back to some party? Was where I was rushing, was it home? Why couldn’t I just have stayed until Sunday like my friends asked? Surely then, I would not have gotten two tickets. Why couldn’t I just listen to my intuition? Why couldn’t I just say no to people? Why did I go on the trip in the first place? Was it really just to visit friends? Why did I need validation? I hated not knowing what I wanted. I moved back because I knew exactly what I wanted. I knew I wanted a home, I knew I wanted to be back here. I was convicted in my decision. I was happy with my decision, I’ve been living happily with my decision for a year. I got a job. I had friends. So what in the world was missing? What was the missing puzzle piece? Was I running away from something?
As the police officer went back to his car, I wanted to cry some more and just sit there, wallowing in my misery and self pity. Somehow I thought he wouldn’t leave until I pulled back out on to the road, and as though it mattered I didn’t want him to think that I was some weirdo who sat in the car and cried, which wouldn’t be the first time and I’m sure won’t be the last. I had to get back, and I had to pull myself together. I had a party to attend. Might as well be now or never. I set back out on to the road, despite still wanting to turn back around to Gulf Breeze. But a decision was made and I was stubbornly going to follow through with it, although obviously (maybe not obviously then) it was the wrong decision.
I don’t know how much louder God could have gotten. Aside from knowing something was wrong, I didn’t know what else he was trying to say. And maybe I didn’t need to. Maybe I needed to sit in the not knowing. Maybe I needed to ask myself some questions I didn’t know to ask. Maybe I needed to call a friend. In hindsight, all this makes perfect sense.
I came back, irritated at the guy, because I could care less about seeing him, irritated at myself, irritated that I couldn’t have a weekend to myself, and that I over commited myself, irritated there was a party. But ultimately it all boiled down to me. There was a greater problem within me, that I had to dig at, search out and as I don’t like to say “fix”, maybe mend.
The party was great, but it would have happened with or without me. I could have worn the dress to other places, and I have. I wasn’t excited about the guy. And at this point I wasn’t even excited about my friends. Do they really care that I’m here? I asked. (That included friends at and not at the party).
I think deep down inside we know. We know what we want but we “settle”. We settle for the wrong people, we run away to avoid places, or dealing with things we don’t really want to deal with.
I can confidently say that God used my car to show me I was in trouble. This has not been the first time. But I am grateful for that, I am grateful he cares, I am grateful he does what he does. I hope I can go forward with this wisdom.
Shortly thereafter, my doubts about where I belong and whether or not I do belong, went away. They are simply no longer here. I picked this place to be home. My friends care, they will care as much as I allow for them to care. If I strut around feeling unworthy of belonging, that is exactly what will happen, I simply won’t.
Since coming to that conclusion, I have felt more at home than I ever have. I try to remember that each day. This is exactly where I am supposed to be right here and right now. Somehow God has guided me here. He knew this is exactly what I was looking for and what I desired. And he led me here.
We get distracted, by people, by things, by opinions, by people we date, by people other people tell us we should or shouldn’t be with. But the voice in your heart is always loudest. It whispers when we quiet ourselves. Being alone can be scary, but it is better to be alone than to be with the wrong people. If your heart doesn’t sing, something is wrong. It doesn’t mean you don’t have bad moments, it just means that if most of those moments bring you joy, that is where and with whom you should be. It’s quite simple. To over complicate it, is even simpler.
“We get the love we think we deserve.” To get the love that we deserve we have to be that love for other people.
We have to remember what it was that our heart desired in the first place? A home? Well, here you go.
Are your eyes open when God hands you the desire you’ve carried with you all your life? Or are you all of a sudden changing your mind? We can’t get what we want when we don’t know what we want.
“And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Aka “ask and you shall receive”. “Seek and you shall find.”
What are you asking for? What are you seeking? Will you be open to receive it when it is knocking on your door? It may not be in the packaging you pictured it to be, and so your senses must be open, your heart must be open.