There comes that transitional moment in every person’s life when it seems the transition about to happen doesn’t actually exist. It’s there—off somewhere in the future—but it isn’t immediate and seems so distant that there’s no real way to feel its significance. And then, it happens. Change careens into the present. Things are different.
My good friend Jonathan says that as you move into adulthood (or while you’re numerically there but emotionally, well, not), no one tells you that some of the biggest decisions of your life are made in the span of about ten minutes. He said this to me most recently as Gwyn and I were headed to Grand Rapids to sign a lease on a new apartment last Monday. I paused, not sure how I felt about the commentary, but then decided he was speaking right into my experience: graduate from seminary, move to Grand Rapids, begin a new job, enter a different school. All these things happened to me or will happen to me this summer, and they are not small things. They are, in the most literal sense, life-altering, and at times I’m stunned by their immensity. How do I have the courage to make these decisions? How do we go forward with them?
We pack things into boxes—endless boxes—as a Pandora station warms the air around us. And with each box, there are more questions asked. Does this matter, like, really matter to us? The whole process becomes a spiritual discipline as we weigh the extent of our materialism with each piece. Lamp: yes. Lime green end table: no. The Lord of the Rings trilogy DVD set: not even a question. That note you once got in middle school: no…yes? – no, I think no. Then the boxes are labeled and slid into the corner, waiting ominously to be lugged onto a trailer. They speak a steady word: change is coming; change is here.
All this causes a lump of liminality to sit in my chest. It crawls out now and again, usually when I lay my head down to sleep. Last night I swear I could feel it scratching. What this means yet, I’m not so sure, but it has to be thematic; my mind routinely circles around change and transition, and my body forces me to feel that another way.
I know some catharsis will come when we stack the last box in the trailer, slowly shut the door, clamp the lock, and turn around to face our small, pillared townhouse for the last time. We’ll remember this place, our first home together, with its eggshell walls and leaks above the faucet. We’ll miss it. Wordlessly, its red brick will slip into the past, and that will be okay. It will be okay. It will all be okay. When change comes, there’s a necessary moving on.