It was this same time last year...just like every other year where I packed up my suitcase and hopped on a plane to South Florida to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Except this year things felt different. It had been this way before, but never quite to this magnitude. This particular year my heart was all over the map. At the time, I was living in Dallas with my four roommates, working for a non-profit which required me to be extremely engaged with the people in this city. At the same time I was consumed by a long-distance relationship with someone I was beginning to fall for hundreds of miles away in Atlanta, Georgia. I had recently declared my decision to move to Los Angeles, a city where I had dreamt of moving to for years and where my best friend was living at the time. Right after coming to this decision and telling all of my family and friends about the move, I came to the realization that it was not the right time for me to move to LA and I decided to stay in Dallas. My heart was literally in four places at once. My day to day, my job, and my deepest friendships in Dallas. My affections, well those were growing in the Southeast. My comfort and support - my family, in Florida and my dreams at the time in California. I was simply spread thin. I was everywhere, but when it came down to it, really fully nowhere.
I was living in one place, giving up on another, contemplating more and more the idea of moving someplace else. Sometimes when you are single and in your 20's, your affections begin to take the lead and you feel led by the pull of your heart to be closer to whoever it is that is holding it at the time. Long distance relationships are tough for so many reasons, but mainly because I don't believe we were created to live in the pull of a divided heart. I thought it was perfect timing to begin to tell my family and friends that I would be heading back to the East coast, to pursue this relationship, new opportunities and not to mention be about 16 hours closer to home. I knew my mom would be ELATED. I was feeling a great amount of relief as I prepared my heart to leave Dallas and move along to a new city, pursue new opportunities and really be 'all in'. I began to look for jobs in Atlanta, in hopes of this move becoming a reality and my heart becoming a little less-divided...all the while, never having had fully invested in Dallas.
I landed in Florida where I was greeted by the magnificence of the shoreline, followed by my family who as always, welcomed me home with open arms at the airport. Shortly thereafter I received a phone call from that special someone in Atlanta. This call was one of those phone calls you remember as clear as day. It was the call which ended with 'I have to let you go'. Not in a 'I have to let you get off the phone' sort of way, but a, 'I have to let you go...forever' way. My heart, though divided, was now shattered...into a million pieces. My tears flowed into what could have formed a river, I was brought to my knees and my new reality was that of a crushed heart, not so much of a less-divided heart. I spent Thanksgiving with my family and shortly thereafter hopped back on a plane to return to Dallas, to face my new reality which consisted of a broken heart, thwarted plans and extreme disappointment in a circumstance which was out of my control.
Dallas...the city in which I had been living for over two years, where I had met so many wonderful people, launched my non-profit career and experienced things which had truly changed the way I see the world. All great things, but at the same time, it was still the place I had always referred to as 'not forever'. I coined the phrase 'Texas for now' in response to those who used the phrase 'Texas forever' as some sort of Texas term of endearment. It was my way of keeping this place at an arms length for no apparent reason other than my own lack of intention. I was attending a great church with a ton of young, single, incredible people, but it seemed like everyone I met felt the same way about this place...it's great for now, but not forever. We were all living here, working different jobs, going to the same church service week in and week out, having lots of lobby chats, but still finding ourselves with this hesitance to plant, to invest, to go deeper. I found every excuse in the book to move along, to bypass the process of the uncomfortable, to take the easy way out. The distance I had allotted was contrary to the way I lived the rest of my life, I cared for people, my hearts desire was to know and be known. Something in my spirit felt discontent with the way things were. It was time for a change.
Coming out of relationships on the other side, can bring us to a place of feeling more vulnerable than we ever thought possible. I was brought to a place of feeling like I had just gone through open heart surgery, feeling more exposed than ever before. Like I had been cracked open, feeling a bit paralyzed but not wanting to waste this season of being put back together and ultimately 're-molded' into something completely new, different and beautiful.
I suddenly had this desire to start something, to create space, a space which might cultivate vulnerability, a place where women who rubbed shoulders in the crowded church lobby week in and week out might have an opportunity to just sit and 'be' together. My roommates and I had tossed around the idea of doing a monthly brunch for quite some time, so upon my return to Dallas I nailed down a date, threw together a paperless post and sent an invite to a group of women. It was something I simply called 'TABLE', and everyone was welcome. The purpose? To carve out time, to sit and engage with one another. About 20 women were invited into our backyard to sit together while enjoying a meal and a mimosa and intentionally, yet organically pursue after each others hearts.
We are coming up on a year now, and this Table thing is still happening! We are still gathering, people are still showing up and contributing and hearts are being exposed. We just had our first Friendsgiving Table last night, where we gathered around a table which took up my entire living room and ate some of the most delicious Thanksgiving food I have ever tasted. We have gathered in various homes around Dallas and gracious women have offered up their time and talent to host and create space for us to intentionally 'Table' together. We have skipped a few months, but the beautiful thing is, it hasn't gone unnoticed. I have been kept in check by people asking the question of 'when is the next Table?'.
My insecurity told me lies, it told me to just keep living in this 'not forever' state, to keep living for the next, until the next came to fruition. It told me to just give up when things didn't go according to my plan. The Lord simply told me to 'stay'. To press in, to be patient, to pursue, to actively wait. Something I began to realize was that if we were to go around the table and ask each other if Dallas was our 'forever' home, most would say no. At the very same time, those same women would express a deep desire to know and be known in this city. The women who come together every month, well they have encouraged me in more ways than they may ever know. They have shown me that it is possible, we can live in the 'in between' and still pursue authentic, lasting relationships along the way.
TABLE, certainly not an original idea, but the way we were intended to live. People all over the place are gathering, realizing the importance of inviting others in, not only to come inside our homes, but to enter in to each others lives. I love the conversations that take place when we gather at Table, not to mention the unique echoes of laughter that erupt when we take time to lean in and listen. Laughter, the universal language which brings healing and communicates joy. We all come to the table with our own story of brokenness, struggle and baggage, but we also all carry with us our own individual stories of redemption, our own unique gifts, abilities and value to add.
This Thanksgiving I am reminded that it is in the places of brokenness where we look back and notice that we have been put back together and transformed in ways we never could have imagined. We have been called to give thanks in 'all circumstances'. When our perspective is shaken, we begin to see things through a new lens, that of a thankful heart. I've heard it said that 'Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.' I believe this with all of my heart. When hope is deferred, we must believe that beauty will rise from the ashes and there is no earthly circumstance that will be experienced for nothing. When our plans are thwarted, we must lean in, listen and obey...because it is in this new reality where we were meant to land.
A year has passed and I haven't move to Atlanta or LA, I stayed right here in this place, and began to pursue different passions inside of my heart. I have become more and more content with the answer 'not yet'. I have given thanks through hardships and in return, He has given me joy. This past year I have felt more present than ever before, and brokenness has given opened my eyes to greater things.
Are you living in the tension of a divided heart? Maybe you are living somewhere just for a year, or two or three. In spite of this ticking clock, how can you be intentional where you are today with the time you have been given? Go and do whatever it is. Don't let your fear or a time frame stop you from doing that which you have been called to today. When we stop striving to arrive and start creating space to sit, to listen, to laugh and to engage with those who have been set before us, we will start to experience joy and contentment in a whole new way. Allow your heart to be undivided and give yourself permission to fully 'be' where you have been planted before asking God to move you along to the next. I promise it will be worth it and it is in the planting where your heart will surely start to flourish.