So, as of a couple weeks ago, I am officially back in Nashville.
I spent the past month or two preparing and packing and moving, as well as painting commissioned works like a madman and squeezing in time with loved ones between working at Honest and redecorating my mom’s home. And as excited as I was to move back, I was also feeling all of the deep and dark and scary emotions… the ones I apparently (and subconsciously) do my best to avoid.
And along with avoiding all the things I didn’t want to feel, I also found myself avoiding Jesus. I normally cherish my slow mornings snuggling my rabbit and spending time with Jesus, and I almost never start an art workday without giving my day to the Lord and asking Him to guide my steps. But as my inner world got darker and darker, I started to sleep longer and replace my precious time with Jesus with all the lesser things… namely Animal Crossing and Crime Junkies LOL.
So, it’s no wonder that before I moved, the main things residing in my heart were hopelessness and anxiety. I’ve lived in Nashville before, and believe me when I tell you it wasn’t a walk in the park. My last memory of living in Nashville was chaos and loneliness and so. many. tears.
And I don’t think I was afraid of anything terrible happening again, as much as I was doubting that the Lord would ever show up for me in the ways I’ve been asking. I was growing deeply bitter that my life didn’t look anything like what I thought it would… that I’m still single, still family-less, still living paycheck to paycheck, still trying to figure out my community. And it wasn’t until I was driving up to Nashville to move here that I finally talked about my feelings with the Lord, all through sniffles and tears… and I was reminded of Ruth.
“The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!”
Ruth is my favorite. Like, easily my favorite book of the Bible, but also I secretly think we would’ve been the best of friends. She was a woman who knew deep loss… She lost her husband and her dad-in-law and her brother-in-law before moving to a new land where she seemingly had no future. She took care of Naomi, her mother-in-law, with selfless devotion and took refuge under the wings of the Lord even though she was a Moabite by birth.
There is not a woman on earth that I aspire to be like the way that I aspire to have the heart and character of Ruth. She lost so many people she loved and was nevertheless deeply committed to Naomi and to her God. She showed up and worked hard to provide for Naomi, not complaining that life didn’t look the way she thought it would. She didn’t remark the way that Naomi did, she didn’t name herself “Mara,” which means “bitter,” or question the goodness of the Lord. She wasn’t like me, withdrawing in secret sadness and anger. She was a woman marked by joy and obedience to where God had her, even if she didn’t understand why she was there or see how things could work out for her in the future. She was a woman who deeply trusted the Lord, relied on the Lord, and found her comfort and joy in the refuge of His mighty wings.
And for me, this is deeply encouraging! She encourages me because when I read the story of Ruth, I can see how the Lord was taking care of her all along… how He was working for her good even when she couldn’t see it, even when Israel was in a drought and she lost the people she loved before uprooting to a place she’d never known. And I can also see the beauty of trusting in the Lord, which freed her from self-focus to love the people that God gave her and walk in obedience to Him in complete confidence that He would provide for her in one way or another. Ruth reminds me that when I trust in the Lord, I’m free to be a woman who is simply joyful to be where God has me, even when I find myself in places I would’ve never chosen to go on my own.
Friends, God has us and He is trustworthy!! And this allows us to live lives full of joy and free of worry because of unwavering trust in the Lord and confidence that, though life on earth may not be what we think it should be, the promises of God will stand firm through the ages. Let me also insert here that my dark and sad and scary feelings didn’t just dissipate, and joy in the Lord is not mere happiness at circumstances… I am still praying for things I don’t have, and sometimes those prayers are still made through sniffles and tears. The difference is that now when I feel disappointment and sadness, I also remember the truth that God is not through with my story, and that His understanding is much, much deeper than mine. My prayer for us is that we would imitate Ruth, walking in faithfulness to the Lord knowing that all things work together for our eventual (and most importantly, eternal) good, and learning to appreciate each season of life for the gift that it is.
Per usual, I’m walking with you, and praying for you always.
All my love,