“ I have bad news,” those are the words I heard four and a half hours into a car ride from Georgia to Florida. That’s the fifth time I’ve answered the phone this year to hear my husband say those words. Maybe a year ago that phrase would be followed by “I can’t make it home for dinner” or “I didn’t get the days off I requested”, but not this year. This year, “bad news” has been an understatement, a gentle set up for the devastating or fear-inducing announcement that is about to follow, “I have bad news, he may have Down syndrome” to “I have bad news, he has Down syndrome.” This time it was followed by, “We got Tucson.”
Let me rewind for you a bit. After receiving the positive amniocentesis results for T21, the Air Force powers that be told us that we would definitely be moving before our son was born because the area we live in was not equipped to handle any complications he may face as soon as he enters the world. A week after we applied for the move, we got a letter denying our request for relocation. The next month was a frustrating battle to get us moved before our son is born. We were allowed to submit a list of where we’d like to go and why.
We picked three bases that had Children’s Hospitals and Down syndrome clinics; all of them were on the east coast within a day’s drive to family. We felt that we may need help and the thought of having family a couple of hours away some how made our son’s diagnosis less scary and more manageable. We felt like we could use the break, like we deserved one. So, that’s what we prayed for, “Lord, please let us get something on our list… please give us a break.”
We didn’t get it. Yes, we will be in a location that can offer our son better care, but we didn’t get the convenience and comfort that we wanted.
I took the rest of the four-hour drive to process. I think I went through nearly all of the stages of grief in those hours. I was in denial…maybe we can fight this, I thought. I was angry…Really God? Really? You couldn’t do at least this for us? I was depressed…Not only am I going to have to learn how to be a special needs parent but I have to do it alone. Then, I decided to reach out to the very few people I knew that had lived in Tucson. I’m so grateful for how they helped me that day. They not only made me feel excited about the area, but it’s like I had a revelation in the last hour of my trip…the best parts of my life have happened when I’ve been uncomfortable.
Moving away from my parents at 18 years old to go to an out-of-state school helped me become more independent. Picking a career in journalism where I made no money, but worked like it didn’t matter, made me more passionate. Moving across the country 4 months after having my first child made me more resilient.
I think we are mistaken when we assume that life should be comfortable. Take a look at the Bible—God told Abraham to leave his home and start a nation. God told Moses to overthrow a King and lead God’s people to a different land. Jesus didn’t stay near his family to make disciples; instead he travelled to many places to spread the word. All of them had to leave comfort behind in order to achieve God’s purpose for their lives.
If you only live in one place, how do you know that’s where you’re meant to be? If you never leave your first job, how do you know that’s what you’re supposed to be doing? If you only spend time with the same group of people, how are you supposed to make an impact on the world?
If you never leave your comfort zone, you’ll never grow. If you never grow, you’ll never make a difference. If you never make a difference, then what’s the point of living?
Do I wish some things were easier? Yes. Arizona will be our third home state this year. We won’t be able to see our families as much as we’d like. We won’t be able to lean on them as much during the times of trouble that are sure to come our way. But I’m okay with it.
I have to admit, even as I was on my knees praying for comfort…I never felt comfortable about it. I thought it was my way of preparing myself to be let down again, bracing for the bad news that was sure to come…but I don’t think so any more. I think I knew it’s not where God wanted us to be. As much as I love the Southeast, I always felt like it was too soon to go back.
Maybe if we had lived too close to family we would have relied on them too much. Maybe we wouldn’t have branched out the way we are supposed to. Maybe God thinks Tucson is not only what’s best for us, but also what’s best for Him. Maybe we need to focus on not only our family, but also other families we have yet to meet.
We don’t know why we are going to Tucson. For that matter, we don’t understand why we were sent to Alamogordo for a 4-month stint. But I think it’s time we think less about all of the things we’ve wanted and start thinking more about what He wants from us…even when it’s uncomfortable.
On a lighter note…leaving your comfort zone can be a lot of fun. I don’t think we would have been able to (or ever even thought to) experience all of these amazing places in just the last year had we never moved away from home. Talk about eye-opening. Read about some of these trips here.