The song “no roots” by Alice Merton made me cry in the middle of a store. And that wasn’t too long ago. As we’re headed towards the fifth “anniversary” of having moved to a tiny village in Southern Germany I need to recap today. Follow me on a journey that has lead me to inner peace and contentment.
Far from home
When we arrived in the South on July 1, 2015, we were so certain we would finally find a place to grow roots and call our home. We rented an apartment that had everything we had hoped for. And God in His generosity even added a fireplace where we could all cuddle up with hot chocolate on cold days.
Nevertheless, a couple of weeks into the new countryside living I started feeling restless and more and more agitated. I would catch myself going to the basement looking at our suitcases and freshly unpacked moving boxes. I didn’t feel welcome or even close to “home” here. Countless times since our move I had tried to connect with locals because that’s what I was used to. You see, I’ve moved quite a few times and at each new location would settle rather quickly, making friends and connect.
This time, however, it just wasn’t working. It started to dawn on me that moving from the most densely populated city of Europe to a tiny village of 2,000 must have been sheer crazy. I was reminded of comments and heads shaken in disbelief of friends in Berlin. When we had told them about our plans, they had stared at us and some even laughed. How could one move away from this vibrant capital? Everyone, it seems, wants to move to Berlin.
Fast forward almost four years. Early 2019 I cried out to God because I was in utter despair. Lonely, feeling left out, regretting and doubting that move of 2015. I was even secretly contemplating to move back to the city. Husband and kids were happy here. I was far from it. Very far!
While I lamented my misery to the One above, He answered my cry in a rather challenging way. I was out grocery shopping one day and passed by the knick-knacks aisle. I was prompted to stop and look. Guess what caught my eye? A little stone that had engraved one word: HOME.
God told me to buy it and not only that! He asked me to put it by the kitchen window where I was sure to see it every single day. I refused. I actually had an inner dispute with God in that store. End of story? The stone went home with me. While placing it on the windowsill I cried. Then I started bawling and sobbing and went to my knees right there in the little kitchen of our rented apartment.
Looking back, this was a moment of surrender and letting go. So many things had turned out so differently since 2015. We were in our fifth year of living in this village that I had sworn myself to never call home. We weren’t welcome here and quite a few local folks had communicated that in a very unmistaken way. They even have their own word for people like us (not translatable to English): neigschmeckt. Go figure.
Something shifted that day I brought home the HOME stone. It was something on the inside of me. None of the circumstances changed, not even a bit. But my obedience and surrender made something possible: Peace started to flood my heart. Giving up that fight against what God had planned and humbling myself under His mighty hand released grace upon my life (AKA favor, kindness, blessings).
I love how the HELPS word studies explains the greek origin of “humbling myself”:
With the believer, “tapeinóō“ ( = show humility, true lowliness) happens by being fully dependent on the Lord – dismissing reliance upon self (self-government) and emptying carnal ego. This exalts the Lord as our all-in-all and prompts the gift of His fullness in us.
Since the spring of 2019 God has moved powerfully within me and around me. It’s like a water hose had been tied up and is now untangled and able to let the water flow freely. That’s how my life feels today. There’s abundance, joy unspeakable and a deep peace on the inside of me.
Will we grow old here? We don’t know.
Are there days where I wish I’d be somewhere else? Maybe.
Am I content and at peace living here right now with my family? Absolutely! Finally!
Each day, I make it a priority to thank God for some detail that is connected to us living here. And I do it in an audible voice so my children can listen and learn. This whole attitude of gratitude thing isn’t just a hashtag or an empty phrase for me. I’ve learned to live it out.
Here’s my challenge for you, precious reader: Are you completely and utterly at peace with yourself? Awesome. Go and enjoy and fight to keep that!
For the ones that are not, I highly recommend you dare to say out loud what I did, together with David, the great psalmist and friend of God:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalms 139/23+24
A piece of advice, though: When you honestly invite God to search you and test your motives and know your thoughts – He will. And the result may be convicting and lead to change! You may even have to admit that He is God and you are not.
I’m sitting here smiling broadly because you know what? That is one of the best and freeing things you could ever do! Throw your arms up to heaven and declare that He is God and you are not. That His plans and thoughts are indeed so much higher than yours. And that His plans are “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29/11). Sounds too good to be true? It isn’t. It’s the truth. Grab hold of it and let it transform your life.