October 29, 2022

Every year, I think it—how fast the seasons turn. How quickly we go from hot to cold, from nothing to everything. May I never lose the wonder of a fog bank, of the clouds slung low into the trees, the wonder of cold mist on my face, of the sodden stillness of autumn dripping onto the street. It was one of the first things I loved about this place—that fog, those trees. Early morning, driving back to California from a summer vacation on the Oregon coast, I looked out the backseat window and into a forest and thought, Here. Here is where I want to be. It was something I’d never thought nor felt before. It was, I now know, peace. But peace was not a word I understood then, and over the years, that thought got lost in the swarm of ambition and determination, in the narrative I had crafted about who I was and where I belonged. Over the years, I forgot that moment—but God did not forget, and somehow, He guided me back here. And He kept me here, through all the years I wanted to leave, the years when I feared I’d have to, and the years when maybe I should have. Christians are often told things like, “God knows us better than we know ourselves,” and that makes it sound like we have a secret self, full of hidden desires and latent talents that can only be brought out by fire. And sometimes, that’s true. But my experience in following Jesus has been less akin to getting to know a strange new self and more like being given the freedom to be the self I’ve always been—the one that, for so much of my life, got buried in the snarl of anxiety and depression, of all my controlling narratives and broken coping mechanisms, all the ways we hurtle ourselves through this world on our own. Loving Jesus did not make me love this fog, these trees. Loving Jesus gave me eyes to see them for longer than five seconds, gave me a heart and a mind that could abide with them and with the God who made them, and gave me the peace to say, in spite of everything that’s still snarled and broken—here. Here is where I want to be.

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