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I just can’t anymore.
This just won’t end. My life is emptying out, with nothing to fill it up again.
I’m going to be old. And alone. With no friends. And nowhere to go on Friday night for the rest of my life.”
This has been the dialogue in my head for at least two years now. Two long years of broken friendships, ever-changing social circles, career-frustrations, and feeling like I lost the pieces of myself that I had finally found.
Let me go back to the beginning.
Six years ago I moved to Baltimore. At the time, it was by far the best decision I had ever made.
I made more friends than I had ever had, I always had something to do on the weekends, we shared a group calendar so that none of us would ever miss out, and we became a family.
Not to mention that at the same time, I had found myself becoming more brave and confident than the still-shy, still-paralyzed-by-fear young lady who had left college just a few years earlier. I felt that I was finally coming into my own.
I was THRIVING.
I loved my friends. I was killing it at work. And I was breaking free of the chains that had once held me back from really living, and being myself.
And then…sigh…and then….
It all started to fall apart. Slowly at first, and then suddenly.
As often happens, especially in your twenties and thirties, my friend group shifted. People started moving away, slowly separating from the group as they got more serious with their significant others, and then altogether as they started to get married.
As the dynamics of the group were ever-changing, so were my individual friendships with those in it. In a span of three months I lost three of who I considered my best friends in Baltimore to circumstances and needless drama that I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand. I felt heartbroken, and confused about how things evolved into where they ended.
Meanwhile, work had become a drain. I struggled to get up and go every day. I resented it, really. I resented that I had to be an adult and continue to go, for the sake of needing to pay my rent, but that I didn’t truly want to be there (hands up if you feel me). But I couldn’t seem to figure out where I wanted to be either. And when I did find a new job, I found myself in the midst of a challenge I didn’t feel ready or equipped for, and the excitement of a new adventure quickly faded.
I started to become down on myself, less motivated.
I quit running. Pole dancing lost its luster. I didn’t have anywhere to be or friends to be with on the weekend. All my spunk, and sass, and all around “Laura-ness” began to dissolve.
What is this? Where have I ended up? And what turn did I take to find myself here?
I went from a full life that was overflowing, to feeling like a watering can being poured out, with only a slow drip left.
It made no sense. No sense at all. People say that any time in your life is only a “season”, but no one tells you that sometimes that season feels like a never ending winter, with no signs of spring.
I can’t tell you how purposeless that season felt at the time. What could possibly be the point?
Three months ago, my boss came to me with a proposition. An offer to move to Panama for six months. A place that I had loved since the first business trip we had taken, with an office full of some of the most friendly, welcoming people you’ll ever meet who act like every day is the first day they’ve seen you. (You also can’t beat a place where its tradition for hot men to kiss you on the cheek to greet you, just saying).
I thought about it, and I figured, why not? What am I really leaving behind? Everything about the life I once loved in Baltimore was gone.
So in a matter of weeks, I had packed my suitcases and hopped on the plane.
I’ve been in Panama for five weeks now, and I can tell you it is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. And its a decision that I would have never made a few years ago when my life was overflowing. I would have been too afraid to miss out on all that my friends were doing, to leave the things and people that I loved, and hit pause on a life that was everything I wanted it to be.
But the last few years lead me to having no reason to say no to this adventure.
And its an adventure that I am confident I am on for a reason. I can’t say for certain that it will end the drought I had at home. I may go back to the exact same situation I was in when I left. But it will take me back a different person with a new perspective, that’s for certain. I’m making connections, building my resume, meeting new friends, finding new things to love, and becoming braver every day (Don’t get me wrong, nothing is perfect, I won’t sit on the furniture in my apartment because I don’t know how many other people have sat on it, and getting in an Uber around here should be on an episode of Fear Factor, but overall it’s pretty cool).
The season I’ve been in for the last few years may have had no obvious purpose at the time, and probably still has more purpose than I’ve yet to realize. But I can tell you one of the reasons it happened was to bring me here, and the reasons we may uncover for why I am here are infinite, and only time will tell.
So why am I telling you all of this? I’ve now given you three pages of my life story, and for what?
It’s because I need to tell you there is hope.
I want to tell you that if you’re in the winter, and it feels like nothing is changing, and the days get darker earlier every day, with no relief in sight, Spring is still coming.
I went through years of feeling like God was going to take everything that had once made me feel so alive until I had nothing left. And then He was just going to leave me like that. And nothing would ever change again.
And then out of nowhere, on a normal, ordinary day, new adventures came.
And if you had tried to tell me that was going to happen in the midst of all of this a year, or even four months ago, I would have told you that you were crazy. No relief was coming. Just more wading through the mundane.
And if someone had told me a story like this, of the surprise that came and the change it brought, I would have rolled my eyes and said “good for you, but that won’t happen to me.” Because at the time it didn’t feel like it could. And it hadn’t for so long.
But then IT DID. And I don’t know where it’s leading me, but I do know that it’s possible. And that sometimes life empties out so that it can fill up again, but not always on our timeline. And to be quite frank, that sucks. But now I realize I began to lose so much of what I loved over two years ago, only to end up living in paradise two long years later.
So if you’re struggling to hang on through this season, this never-ending, seemingly purposeless season, I get you.
I’ve been paddling the boat with you for a long time. But I can tell you that even if you don’t believe it, I believe that in time something is going to give.
It won’t be on your timetable, I can promise you that. (I wish I could lie and say that it would be, but given the name of my blog, I would be nothing if I weren’t honest). And there will be days when you feel like you must not be deserving of a change, and that God has forgotten you. And it won’t make any sense why you’re trudging through this season for so long.
But more often than we realize, God surprises us.
Maybe not in such big ways as moving to Panama, but often out of nowhere and when we least expect it.
A sweet elderly friend of mine, Olga, who had been through more seasons of doubt, struggle, and pain than I could ever imagine, once said it to me best:
“I have a theme for life. ‘God surprises us.’ I have an olga-ism for it. Do you want to know what it is? ‘You ‘aint seen nothin’ yet.’”
She told me that in the midst of the last few years. And I didn’t believe her. Not one bit. This woman who had seen more suffering in her life than anyone ever should, was assuring me God had a plan, a plan to surprise me. But I refused. I refused to believe it could apply to me.
But here we are.
Five weeks ago I got on a plane to Panama in the middle of Maryland Winter, and woke up to a never-ending, Panamanian Summer.
God surprises us. He has surprised me in ways I never expected. And whether you believe it or not, I choose to believe he will surprise you, too.
Hang tight, my friend. Spring will come again.