Something I’ve learned over the past year: Roots are important, and how to have them when I’m constantly moving.
Those two points seem mutually exclusive, because to me roots are generally tied to a geographic location. Growing up in Africa, coming back to the States for furloughs, moving back again, moving for college, moving for jobs, and moving for my job here have all culminated into a transient lifestyle.
I’ve noticed young people want to chop their trees down and sever their roots for the sake of independence. In their naivety they end up searching for a place to belong afterwards. In ways, I believe this is a normal process to go through. It’s part of turning into an adult and separating from parents. A major importance in how a person develops later in life depends on if they sink roots again, and how they do so.
I’ve craved roots. I’ve become bitter when I couldn’t sink any down. I’ve questioned God at the heartache constantly moving causes. I’ve wondered how I can grow and succeed when I’m starting again every other year it seems.
Roots are a place of constancy. Consistency. A home and a refuge that you turn back to so you can find your identity. When you’re away, a reminder of where you came from for perspective on your journey to where you’re going. They are also a place of community and friendship.
Since I haven’t had constant ties to a geographic location growing up as a TCK (third culture kid), I began to sink my roots into people at an early age. When we moved, I struggled the most not being away from Africa or even culture shock, but mostly being away from those I loved. It took me years of working through those things to begin to come to terms with being away.
I almost had a panic attack (never have those) at the thought of going through the same thing again when I graduated college. I had four years to really sink deep, and I did. I knew just like leaving Africa, most of my relationships would change. People would fade away, and life moves on.
What saved me then and what have I been reminded of now? A place in which I can sink roots that doesn’t change. The only Person who doesn’t change, and is with me wherever I go. I know, it sounds cliche, but constant change makes this pertinent. Having a singular place where the state of being in a relationship doesn’t change is essential for my mental health. I have a place of reference and perspective to keep investing in others. I know it is temporary, but I can keep giving because I’m given to.
I can move anywhere and weather the storms of change because God is my refuge. Change still can feel like diving into frigid water and my breath is taken away, but that shock is also invigorating. I feel alive. It gives me something to battle against and refines me. It reminds me that my true home is waiting for me with Jesus.
This doesn’t discount people, as God uses them as well for grounding and reminding us of our identity. I believe those people have to be well chosen. Most of the time it is family and select friends. What is cool is God has brought both along in my life. For that I am thankful. I may not be able to be around them most of the time, but thanks to technology I can keep in contact. Remember God is Provider. In every sense of the word, He is.
If you feel like I do, sink your roots into Jesus. Life will change around you, but you will have a constant hope and place of refuge when it does.