This past weekend I had a heart to heart with God. I confessed that I have been distant lately. Why? Because I wanted to get the hell out of Michigan. Because after December all it represented for me was the toxicity I returned to when we moved here from Austin. I just. Wanted. Out. I felt trapped. And I had this sense that God wanted me to stay. I did not want to hear that, did not want to listen to that. So I have been shutting it down and moving full steam ahead with my backup plan to leave. As soon as possible. Nothing can stop a Brittain on a mission. I am a freight train. Get out of my way.
I am so grateful I serve a kind and gracious God. My loving Heavenly Father. I am not too much for him. My feelings are not too much for him. My desire to flee is not too much for him. He does not shame me for wanting to leave. No. He gets it. He patiently waits for me to return to him. To draw near to him. He has been beckoning me all this time. Patiently holding space for my tantrum. Looking at me through eyes of love and grace. And when I take a minute to realize that I do not want to do this thing without him. When I pause and turn to face him. He lights up. His eyes brighten, he smiles then and opens his arms wide. And I run into them and find safety. The safety I was trying to find on my own, in my own power. The reality is the only place I can find it is in him.
So I poured out my heart. My own Psalm.
Hey God, it's me. Brittain. I am feeling trapped. The walls of this place I thought was home are closing in on me. Not my physical house, but this state. Michigan. I feel all mixed up. When I dreamed of our return to my home state, I was so excited to experience fall and cider mills and apple orchards again. To share a winter wonderland with Bina and the dogs. I love the dogs most when they are barreling through freshly fallen snow. I enjoy the change of seasons. But December 2019 changed all of that for me. And now I just hate it. I hate winter. I hate the cold. I hate the clouds. I hate the gray. It feels like a tomb. A prison cell. I just want to escape. I want to leave. Now.
I feel you telling me that it is not time. Not right now, at least. There is still more for us here. And sometimes I can settle into surrender to that. I love my home. Though it feels too big right now. Too much for me to maintain. I love our neighborhood, our neighbors. I love my friends. We have plans for the rest of this year, beginning homeschool. The Wild + Free group. Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) newly accommodating homeschoolers. But then I remember the toxicity that exists here. That it knows where to find me. And I just. I cannot stay here. I do not want to stay here. God, is it possible for us to learn whatever we need to learn somewhere else?
Oh God, I am scared you are going to make me stay. That I will never feel safe. Not completely. That there is no escape. There is only enduring. I want away from this place, this toxicity. I do not want it. I do not want Michigan. I do not want to be here. I want to escape. I want to be free.
Do you see me, God?
I am scared to listen to you because I am scared you are going to make me do something that is damaging to me. But that is not who you are. I want reassurance that you are going to take me somewhere else. That I will not get stuck here. That there is more for us. A trail to blaze all our own. A return to the first place we called home, far away from any family by blood. Where we built a new family. Of friends. Is that the future you have for us? Can I trust you with that desire? Or by sharing it does it become sin for me? Oh how I twist you and your relationship to me, to humanity.
Oh God, I think I have lost my way. I have lost how to view you clearly. Can you remind me of who you are? Can you be gentle with my frazzled and broken heart? Can you redeem this toxicity that has taken root, that I am working hard so hard to sever? Not redeem, transform.
Who are you, God?
Who am I? Who am I in relation to you?
Will we be able to escape Michigan? Or will we be trapped here?
Am I looking for greener grass that does not exist?
Oh God, you have had mercy on me and David when our thoughts about you and ourselves were so so so wrong. When they were damaging to us and others but we did not realize it. You made a way for us when our vision was clouded. You connected us with people, with dear friends. You led us across the country three times together. When we thought we had reached the end of the road, you made a new road for us. We fought our way through dense fog, hurting ourselves and each other in the process. But you always were there and had a lifeline for us, someone to reach out and grab our hand. To lead us to the next right step. That has been our journey, one step at a time. Learning more and more each step. Key people shedding light in dark places. Again and again. Building on our understanding. Breaking down false perceptions. Building up new ones. You have always led us, even when others interfered. You redeemed all the bad intentions, bad fruit. You rescued us. You rescued us from the trap, from the pit. You provided a way out when I saw no way. How much more will you provide a way out now. We are living the way out, the way you provided. All we have to do is surrender to the process. Let go of our control. Do the next right thing. One step at a time. Not getting ahead of ourselves. You are not here to trap us. To keep us in a place of harm to torment us. No. That is not in your character. You provide the way out.
Oh God, give me strength to do the things I feel I cannot do. That I do not want to do. The things that overwhelm me to no end. Tasks simple and great. They are all the same to me. Exhausting. Highlighting my failure. My lack. But I am strong in you.
Oh God, I was so confused when we could not get pregnant after we moved here. When it took us so long to get approved for domestic infant adoption. When I was placed in the BSF discussion group with other mamas who had adopted or were pursuing adoption. When we got on the waiting families list and were not chosen. I thought for sure this was your plan. But I also had a sense that maybe this was not to be, at least not now. And then you gave us Juniper and I cannot imagine life without her. I learned so much in all the broken places to get to Juniper. She is such a joy. It is not that she makes all the pain and suffering go away, it is that she is part of the beauty that emerged from the pain and suffering.
And now I find that I am afraid the same result is to come. That the way I think it is to happen will not happen. That we will not be able to return to Texas. That instead we will remain here. But you said it would be better than it was before. My Juniper in this situation is coming. But I cannot see her yet, I can only see my heart broken and my expectations unmet. And so I am in a place of fear. Of uncertainty. Of being scared to trust that you really do have something better in store than what I think should be.
Oh God, help me to see with your eyes. Mine are not working right. How I need you. You alone. I seek your comfort. I seek your kindness. Your loving kindness. Your grace. Would you mend my broken heart? Would you restore my vision so I can see clearly? Draw me to you. I want to draw near to you. I want you to pick me up and tell me everything is going to be okay, that you will be near me whatever may come. To hold me close. To save me from those who intend to divide and harm to preserve their false image of themselves.
Oh God, you are my rescuer. You are the judge. You know my heart. You know the words of my accusers. You know the truth. Would you show me the next right step and hold my hand? Would you lead me to what you have in store that is better than it was before, better than I could imagine for myself? Would you restore to me the years the locust has eaten? Would you show me your goodness in the land of the living? And would you grant me the grace to wait for it? One step at a time. Comforting my broken heart as it is unable to understand in this moment, but knows you will make it clear in time.
On Monday I spoke to my mentor and shared the general sentiments of this prayer, my Psalm. And as I was doing so, I started to weave truths together in my mind. Our escape is already here. We are living our escape. The path to a new future. The job that God orchestrated for David, the job he has now. With a wonderful, gracious, kind business partner who is mentoring him. The mentor we always hoped would be but never was before, is now. We are living our escape. We are not trapped. We were only trapped when I refused to see the truth before December 2019. As God opened my eyes to reality, he was clearing the path for escape. We HAVE escaped. The pandemic complicated things for sure. But we are still free.
I have been house hunting in Austin on Zillow for the last month. Looking at houses priced like ours that are smaller. Which is fine, I wanted to downsize a bit. But the layouts were not quite right. The location. If the location was good the price was not. I kept looking at my family/play room that is my favorite spot in my house. I must have this in a new house. I also want a front porch. Like the one we have. A big front yard, like the one we have. Outdoor space, like the space we have. It dawned on me on Monday. I already love the house we have. We have made this house our own. We have made it work for us. Constantly refining. Changing layout and space utilization. Maximizing for both form and function. But mostly function. I do not want a different kitchen. A different yard. A different house. I want the house we have. I am looking for what we have. But I already have it. Oh Brittain. It is already here.
David called on his way home from work on Monday, stressed out by the volume of work. And surprising both him and myself, I responded: GOOD! That is GOOD news that you are busy and drowning in work. That means there is hope. This company CAN recover. We CAN make this work. We do not need to leave. We do not need plan B. That is not to say that nothing will ever change. It IS to say that I no longer feel like staying in Michigan is staying trapped. We are NOT trapped. We are free. We are living our escape from toxicity. In a home we love. With neighbors we love. In a community we love. At a church we love. WE. LOVE. IT. HERE. We love it here!
I am living my escape now. I see the beauty here now. Beauty from ashes. I can see it, and it is here now. Like. Wow, God. Way to answer that prayer REAL quick. Though I guess it has been a long time coming. It took my Psalm and some podcast episodes, the support of dear friends, and a lot of trauma work to put it all together.
As I write this, I imagine God smiling at me. That knowing smile that a parent has when they knew their child could do it all along and have just witnessed it come to pass. I have pulled myself back from my Heavenly Father's embrace to look up at him and say, "I feel better now!" I did not think I could feel better. But I do. I see.
I see him weaving all the things together. Even the concept of surrender. Something he had spoken to me during our domestic infant adoption process was, "surrender to the process." I thought this meant to let go and let it be. To stop fighting. But that is not what it meant. I was listening to another episode of The Place We Find Ourselves, episode 18: Why Your Story Makes it Hard to Hope. Adam Young talks about hope and it is so powerful. All the ways we commit spiritual abuse with a wrong understanding of this concept. He addresses surrender and how it is BOTH a knock-down-drag-out fight AND a "your will be done." Like Jesus before he went to the cross, pleading with God to let this cup pass. Please Father, let there be some other way. He sweat blood agonizing over this. And he finished with "not my will but yours be done." Jesus was not passive. He did not just go to the cross without any thought or feeling. He did not want to go. He had his own knock-down-drag-out fight with God the Father. Only then did he say, "ok. I will do what you ask." All this time I thought I have been messing up surrender. I keep wrestling with my lack of understanding. Keep railing against the way things are. Wanting them to be different, to go differently. Just like Jesus. Only after wrestling and experiencing that stress and anxiety do I get to the place of, "your will be done, whether or not it is what I want." I am not doing surrender wrong. On the contrary, I am doing it right.
And so I have fought hard against staying in Michigan and reached the place of "let your will be done." I have seen that God has already provided my escape. Our escape. That we are already safe here. My little family is safe. I am safe, David is safe, Sabina is safe, Juniper is safe. We are safe here. We are loved here. We are surrounded by beautiful people that God has placed in our lives. People who love and support us and are not related to us by blood. What a gift they are. So now I am resolute. I am all done fighting. I am ready for the second step of surrender: your will be done. I do not know exactly how things will pan out. What I do know is that I love my beautiful life. All of it. This messy, broken, beautiful life of mine. For now we are staying in Michigan. It does not belong to the toxicity. We can redeem it. And it can be ours too. We are safe here. Redeeming Michigan.