I’m a Washington-born, Alaska-grown transplant.
In my lifetime I’ve moved ten times (five of those being in the last six years) and about nine thousand miles. I have lived in some of the most beautiful places in this country. Compared to some people, my moves of a few thousand miles here and a few thousand miles there are insignificant, but to me moving is never an easy process.
Moving is one of those things that sends a thrill down my back. It’s the kind of thrill that is excitement mixed with trepidation, and is always twinged with a little bit of wistfulness that things have to change so often.
I’ll be honest: I love the adventure, and I don’t mind the travel, but what I don’t like is the starting over. It isn’t easy to leave behind familiar places — I’m the shyest person I know, and always being a stranger can be hard work. I like my comfort zone, and moving has consistently pushed me out of the known and into territories that have stretched me to new limits. There are times when I don’t like that so much.
Moving is exhausting emotionally and physically. If you’ve moved even once in your life, you know how much work it takes to pack up your life and unpack it somewhere else. Somewhere around the time I’m packing the tenth box, I am ready to call the Salvation Army to just come and get it all!
I may not have chosen to move as much as I have if life had not pushed and shoved quite so much. I miss the places and people I’ve left scattered behind me in the places I’ve lived between my infancy and today. But now, just like so many of the other changes that life has brought me, I don’t think I’d trade the experiences I’ve had, or any of the adventures we’ve enjoyed, or even one of the friends I’ve made for the security of a comfort zone that never got pushed a little.
I’ve been charged by moose and had bears sit on my porch and stare in the windows. I’ve seen the midnight sun, and watched the Aurora Borealis dance endlessly in the winter sky. I know that there are about 35 different kinds of mosquitoes in the state of Alaska and have probably fed most of them at one point in my life. I’ve climbed the Great Sand Dunes and lived at 8600 feet elevation in the Rocky Mountains. I’ve had yaks live in the field beside our first house (that used to be a goat shed before they “converted” it), and enjoyed freshly-squeezed apple juice from trees on the property. And here in my current stopping place, every summer night I go out and relish the firefly parade that fills the sky all night long.
The best part about these memories are the people that I share them with — unexpected friendships that were made, and faces that I’ll never forget.
I may not love moving, but I am grateful for these chances I’ve had. To live in so many different places, to taste of the beauty that God has scattered in every corner of this world, and for the wonderful people I may never have met had He not seen fit to pull up my roots and transplant me somewhere else. I may have left a piece of my heart in each of my old homes, but I have fond memories of these places that He has used to shape my story.
I’ve thought a lot lately about how life can have such unexpected curves and twists, and of some of these adventures I’ve had and what I miss about the places that I’ve called home. I’ve been thinking about the things I’d miss if I were to be transplanted once more from this corner of Tennessee as unexpectedly as I was from Alaska or northern Idaho.
Each place that I’ve been transplanted to has been so uniquely different from the last. And yet in each and every place that I’ve lived or passed through, I’ve found beauty there. Because of my transplants, I know now for sure that even the desert can blossom like a palace garden, and a world of what sometimes seems like perpetual snow can sparkle more than a crown jewel. And whether the landscape is sandy or lush and green, there always seems to be a bird who will sing an evening song. There are good and kind and beautiful people everywhere I go who help me feel less like a stranger and more like I belong. While so many things change, God’s goodness and love, and gifts of beauty remain.
Throughout my transplants, these are the things that have reminded me that when everything changes, God still knows exactly what I need. He has each moment of this life I’m living mapped out already, and every adventure and unexpected bump that we’re going to face is still held in the palm of His hand.
I can focus on the hard times, and the goodbyes I’ve said, and the changes caused by moving — or life in general — that make me afraid. Or I can focus on the way that change creates new opportunities. I can see how it has enriched my life with new beauty and new friendships, and I can see change as a gift. I don’t have to know what’s around the next curve. I don’t have to know about when these roots will be pulled up again and set down in a new home. I just need to embrace the journey, the transplants, and the opportunities as sent from my Father’s hand.
If it weren’t for all of these unexpected bends in the road, and all the miles I’ve traveled, perhaps all that I would have had the chance to know of Creation would be just the one climate of the far north country. Perhaps all I would know was a limited view of the heart of God’s people in every part of this world. Perhaps I would not be who I am today, if it were not for God’s way of moving me out of my comfort zone.
These are the blessings of being a transplant.