Monday, June 16, 2014

Thoughts On Leaving Shreveport

I have thought a lot about how to write this post, about how to summarize my feelings on leaving Shreveport and I just can't quite get it together.  This last weekend here has been such a mix of emotions: anticipation, excitement, sadness, and nostalgia just to name a few.  As I told my mom yesterday, despite all the challenges here, Shreveport is our home.  It's where we had our children, where Ryan received the majority of his medical training, where we both were challenged way more than we expected. As excited as I am to enter this next phase I would be lying if I didn't confess that moving to New Bern also makes me feel a little tired and overwhelmed. Having to unpack and start over. Trying to find friends, a new church, new dentists and doctors. Figuring out where to grocery shop and the best places to buy things.  Trying to convince my kids to sleep in their new rooms.  All things that I was excited about before moving here and realizing how hard it really is to start over in a new place.

I think the word that sums up our time in Shreveport the best is bittersweet.  One definition of the word bittersweet is to be both pleasant and painful.  In many ways our life here has been pleasant.  We have had two precious, amazing little boys.  We have experienced many fun things as a couple, we have traveled, we have shared many laughs together and have gained wisdom.  Our marriage is stronger because we have done it together. Being away from our family gave us a chance to figure out our parenting style on our own and to make a lot of memories with just our little nuclear family.  We have had many special times with our families back in NC and also here in LA along with friends that came to visit and new friends we found here.  All of these experiences are very sweet. But our time here has also been bitter and hard.  The loneliness. I never knew it was possible to be so lonely.  Ryan's job. Times when we barely saw each other. Instances when he worked multiple times for over a month without one single day off. Holidays and celebrations that I spent alone or with just the kids. The fatigue.  James's first year of life- the definition of a bittersweet experience.  Loving a child so much but man he was tough. I can't even recall how many days and hours I held him while he cried and cried and I would just start crying too because there was nothing I could do to get him to stop. His little hair would be soaked with my tears by the time we pulled it together. Yes we have had some tough times here in Shreveport.

The combination of the bitter and sweet times here in Shreveport has morphed into an experience that while I wouldn't have chosen it I also wouldn't change it.  Without this experience I wouldn't be the mother or wife or person that I am.  Our experience here has help define our relationship with each other and with God. We are both leaving as very different people than we were when we came. Our family has doubled in size. A lot has happened. And believe it or not there are things that I am sad about leaving and people that I am very sad to say goodbye to.  It has been an emotional weekend for Ryan and I as we get ready to end this phase of our life.  It has been bittersweet.

Two years after moving here I read the book Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist that related a lot to how I have felt about our time here and here is a quote from her book that I will end with.

"Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness. 'It's the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul.  Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands.  Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity.  Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy.
'This is what I've come to believe about change: it's good, in the way that childbirth is good, and failure is good. By that I mean that it's incredibly painful, exponentially more so if you fight it, and also that it has the potential to open you up, to open life up, to deliver you right into the palm of God's hand, which is where you wanted to be all long, except that you were too busy pushing and pulling your life into exactly what you thought it should be.
'I've learned the hard way that change is one of God's greatest gifts, and most useful tools.  Change can push us, pull us, rebuke and remake us.  It can show us who we've become, in the worst ways, and also in the best ways.  I've learned that it's not something to run away from, as though we could, and that it many cases, change is a function of God's graciousness, not life's cruelty.'

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