Hello from my new home – in Utah.
I never in a million years thought I would be saying that.
If you had asked me a year ago if I would ever move away from the east coast, let along to Utah (the state with so many Mormons), I would have laughed in your face and given you a million reasons as to why I would never do it. Why I wouldn’t leave the coast, why I wouldn’t live west of the Mississippi, and especially why I wouldn’t live in Utah.
I’m writing this from Provo.
The place with so many Mormons you’ll spend all your time tripping over them right and left. The place where every third person is wearing a soccer jersey or some sort of BYU logo emblazoned on their person (I don’t mind the jerseys so much), where signs for the ice cream shops bemoan break-ups and offer solace in frozen dairy, and where there are so many LDS meeting houses that you could throw a football with a feeble-handed pass and it would make it from one of the buildings to another, no problem.
I feel like I’m living in some sort of twilight zone. I don’t quite believe that I now live in Utah. That I traded my Shenandoah Valley for the Salt Lake Valley, my rolling green hills for brown mountains, my coastline for the canyons, my thick woods for a place filled with sidewalks, traffic barrels, and parallel parking (is all of Utah under construction?).
I can easily say right now that moving out here is absolutely the most terrifying thing I have done in my entire life.
It’s complicated. It’s humbling. It’s heartbreaking. It’s liberating. Mostly, right now, it’s terrifying.
The whole reasoning for moving out here and the emotions that come with it are hard to express, but they’re important nonetheless.
I learned in my final year at Southern Virginia that I was getting comfortable. Living in Virginia was easy. I had a few good friends, some incredible professors and mentors, a calling I loved, a boss who was as kind as the day was long, and I was in a place that felt comfortable.
And I realized comfortable was not where I needed to be. It was time to leave the comfort zone, because I had plateaued. I learned that when I’m not actively growing and stretching (and being chastened, let’s be real), I tend to slowly slip downwards. For me, a lack of progression is automatic regression.
In the year I spent at home sorting a couple things out and pouring my heart into the ward and temple there, I was praying day and night to know where I needed to go, what programs I should apply for, etc.
I’d get excited about a program or city or country and get caught up in day dreams. I think I prayed about every state in the Union and a couple different countries (hey, Samoa, catch you next time I guess?).
I didn’t want to go to Utah.
But in the absent minded moments when I’d be thinking of what I needed to be doing, it was Utah that came to mind. In making lists and goals, it had unintentionally become “I’ll do that when I get to Utah” or “that isn’t a far drive from Utah,” all without me really noticing it at first.
When the Lord and I finally reached an understanding (wherein He did the telling and I still don’t have the understanding, really), I tried incredibly hard to be excited and energetic about the move. Especially when talking to friends and people from Church. People would say, “are you so excited to move to Utah?” or “you’re going to love living in the Salt Lake Valley” or “it will be so close to your mission!” and I would smile and nod and rattle off something all while trying to swallow back the feeling that the Lord was dragging me west kicking and screaming.
Spoiler alert, He did.
Yes, I am really excited to be closer to my friends from the mission and from the east who have moved out here (heeyyy, Cromwell family). Yes, I am so excited to be able just do something different. Yes, I am really looking forward to all the Mexican food (pretty sure that’s secretly the number one factor in being excited right now, sorry friends). And more importantly, I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for me right now.
But guys, I am SO not comfortable.
I guess that’s the point.
And the discomfort comes from the not knowing why I’m here or what I’m supposed to be doing.
(People have asked me time and again if I’m going to Utah to get married, and the next person who does might just get a swift right hook and an earful. People who know me know I wouldn’t move across the country for a date – I’m perfectly content with a cup of tea, a book, and my single state, thankyouverymuch.)
In every previous phase of my life, I’ve known the purpose. I’ve known the reason why, the expiration date, the ins and outs of it. Sure there were short stretches where I didn’t know what I needed to be doing, but they lasted a few days or weeks at the very most.
But I don’t know why I’m here in Utah. I don’t know why God called me to a place I’ve never wanted to go, a place that literally made me absolutely miserable the first time I visited (the MTC was rough, yo. There’s a reason I refer to it as spirit prison – you’re trapped, but you learn a hell of a lot).
I just know that this is where I’m meant to be. Simplify all of it down, and I’m really just trying to follow Jesus.
I thought I understood how hard it is to say “I’ll go where you want me to go” while I was on my mission and being transferred or getting a new companion every six to twelve weeks.
The mission has got absolutely nothing on this.
This is the biggest leap of faith He’s asked me to take so far.
I came out here with no place to live, no job, just my life packed into my car and some money in the bank (and my mom for a week and a half, God bless her, I couldn’t have done it without her).
As of Monday, I have a place to live, but still no job, and my life is still packed in my car and money doesn’t last long.
I’m exhausted, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I’m feeling a bit like the Israelites wandering around in the desert, wondering when they’d see the promised land. I feel like I’m painting on a smile when people ask me if I’m “so excited to be living in Utah,” when really all I want to do is go hide with a Coke and somebody’s dog to cuddle.
I’m terrified. It has literally been a leap of faith as wide and deep as it is from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Rockies. It feels like I might as well be on the other side of the world.
But I’ve also never been so sure of anything in my life. It’s been a lesson in saying “thy will be done” over and over until you really mean it, until you really start to feel it. When my mind starts to race and I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack of the brain, it’s that little bit of steadiness that says, “you’re meant to be here.”
And I’m so thankful for pure and simple kindness, from friends and strangers alike. It’s been the saving grace (as has a trip to the temple) the past couple days, especially when I feel like I’m falling apart at the seams. It’s been so great to be reunited with friends and people who have already been so crucial to my journey thus far (even if they do lecture me about dating).
Utah. It’s exciting. It’s terrifying. It’s new. It’s a little overwhelming. It’s different. But it’s home now.
So here’s me raising my glass of Coke and trying to smile through the terror and sorting out what in the world I am doing here, and saying “hey, from Utah.”