It’s the start of a new school year and a new ministry year. This is often the busiest time in my life, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. There’s so much change and excitement in such a short period of time. When I chat with friends about the start of the new year, I hear the same thing over and over: “It just doesn’t feel like home yet.”
I’ve said this myself, too. After working in the same incredible place for the past two years with some of my dearest friends and colleagues, a new workplace feels wrong. I wasn’t ready to leave my old job. The new one just doesn’t fit. There are so many wonderful things and people in my new workplace. I know it will eventually feel like home, but in the meantime, it’s a little sad and lonely. I don’t belong quite yet and I’m floating in this weird abyss of the unknown.
Time does help with the unfamiliar. Usually we adjust to our surroundings and everything is peachy. But sometimes we’re given an abundance of time and we don’t do anything about it. We show up at a church and say, “Well I’m not sure if it’s right for me yet.” We start a new job and think about how much we miss our old coworkers. We move to a new place and constantly compare it to the old. We dwell on how it used to be instead of how it is now. I’m doing this too – last year my heart felt like it was home. There were massive challenges and big time stressors, but at the end of the workday, I always felt like I was safe and cared for. I was home. Throughout my work day, my heart is always in another place. I can’t shake it. I don’t even want to adjust to the new place. I just want the old one back.
But then again, you wouldn’t move into a new place and never unpack your boxes. That’s foolish. You can’t live in a place full of boxes. Unpacking is exhausting and sometimes it takes awhile to figure out where stuff fits in your new place. But eventually you have to buckle down and do it. You have to put in that work and live in some chaos for awhile in order for it to feel like home one day.
Maybe I won’t make the same connections this year as I did last. I might not feel like I’ll ever be home again, but when I think about how this new place isn’t like the old all the time, I’m not doing myself any favours. I keep reminding myself that I have to do the work of settling in. I can’t sit around and pout and say that I don’t feel like I’m home. I have to make it my home. I have to take a deep breath, unpack my boxes and stay awhile.