an unusual move, prt. 5: goodbye, redding

In the same way I never could’ve imagined that the entire world could be put on hold in such a drastic way, I never thought that our move to Redding, CA would come to a sudden end in three months and five blog posts.
Just a few days ago my friend texted me and said she had read my recent posts. She was genuinely expressing excitement for us and our Redding adventure and I had to tell her that we left Redding several weeks ago. From that i figured that an update and an ending to this five part blog series was due. Here’s my letter to Redding. You are welcome to read it, if you’d like.


Dear Redding,

I forget where I heard about you for the first time, but ever since I was aware of your exsistence, there was something about you that drew me close.
I was nervous and excited when I finally got to meet you on February 9th 2020.
It had taken courage for me to decide that I would come to live with you, in you. I loved the thrill of your reputation and your strangeness, the fact that we had never met before. I love me a good story and I felt that you had mighty fine potential to be exactly that: a great story. You were foreign to me, but I was determined to like you. And I did. I think I still do, but the memories of you have now faded to a melancholy color in my mind.

At first sight, you were everything a Danish girl in America could dream of. You were big enough to have a variety of options for shopping and city-like life, but at the same time small enough that nothing was ever more that 10 minutes away. You didn’t have much traffic and you were easy to navigate. For that I am grateful. You were the perfect place to practice my american driving skills!
You offered beautiful views, a bunch of trails and parks and the prospect of being able to ride a bicycle around. You were cheap too, for California. Friendly for the most part. Warm and sunny in early March. I liked you a lot. Your spiritual life was bright, vibrant and somewhat complicated. I found that attractive.

In the beginning things went rather smoothly. Wesley got a job and we found a temporary living situation. That’s what we wanted. A steady job and a place to lay our heads while we worked with a realtor. We were buying a house and if that isn’t a big deal in itself, it was a big deal to us because it was to be our very first home. Since marriage we had never had our own place and I was impatiently waiting for the day I could actually go to the kitchen at 7am and turn the coffee pot on  without having to get dressed for the sake of other people in the house. Truly the first place for me & Wes to call ours.
We looked at many homes and had a lot of fun with it. We made a few offers and each house we bid on held it’s own set of ideas and dreams. God taught us to be excited but unattatched and we learned so much from going through a couple of different offers.
Finally, after several weeks, an offer went through and we entered escrow. It was so exciting and the cutest little home. It had skylights and vaulted ceilings and big french doors to the back yard.
But an unforseen acquaintance had entered the scene at this point. Corona virus. By the time our offer on the house was accepted we were about a month into lockdown.
By the grace of God, Wes had been able to keep his job, although his position and his hours changed. We remained hopeful that things would work out fine and soon we would move into our little house. Shortly after entering escrow we had an opportunity to go back to Placerville area (where Wes grew up) because we needed to get a few things in place before moving in. We packed our bags with some clothes and a few essential and drove down to be with family for a a few weeks. Here’s where things started to change..

Dear Redding, let me explain it. We came to find community in you, but sadly you were forced to close all doors just as we arrived. Moving to a completely new place during the time of corona virus was a lonely affair.  Even though Wes and I have each other it was lonesome to be in a place where no one knew about our excistence. It was difficult to feel at home in you.
My immigration was put on pause and that also meant that getting a job wasn’t a possibility yet. I had some long and boring days in my master bedroom rental.
I am explaining all this to you, hoping that you won’t take offense when I tell you it was incredibly delightful to leave you for a few weeks and go back to see our family. Refreshing is an understatement for how it felt to be around people who know us and care about us.

And then – suddenly, but maybe not unexpectedly, things took a drastic turn. Being away from you offered a fresh perspective on how things had turned out between us. Obviously it wasn’t you fault that a pandemic hit right as we were ready to embrace you.  Nonetheless it really affected our relationship with you and the possibilities we thought you offered were quickly eroded by that virus. Before it fully registered with me, we had to give up the job, the house, the dreams and all we had left with you was a two hour visit where we came to grab our things and say goodbye. Just as quickly as we met, we parted ways.

I am not sure you will fully understand and I won’t bother you too much with all the emotional details that led to this decision. Let me just say, that you weren’t who we thought you would be. I am sorry if my expectations were too high. Mind if I explain why it was hard to let you go?
During the first months of 2020 I came to a point where I was sick and tired of a transitional life. Immigration was taking an emotional toll on me and I was determined to end the feeling of not belonging anywhere. In good faith that we were just around the corner of getting that greencard we latched on to you, expecting you to be the place that ended the season of traveling and waiting. As I said before, it really wasn’t your fault. It feels as if you hurt me, but you didn’t. My own expectations did. I don’t think they were unrealistic but our strange and unwanted guest, Corona, made them impossible.

It’s been over a month now and I’m slowly getting over you. I’ve been licking my wounds from the inevitable feeling of absolute failure. I’ve been reevaluating what I want most in life. It’s a tremendous blessing to have a home, a place to call your own but perhaps I’ve learned that “home is where the heart is” is indeed a true statement.
Redding, God has used you in my life to teach me deeper trust in Him and to let go of things I mistakingly thought I was entitled to.
It’s not the first time in my life I’ve had to let go of something I thought was really good. It’s not the first time I’ve questioned God in my limited understanding and self centered disappointment. I’ve asked God what he was doing and why he wouldn’t give me what I wanted. I’ve tried it all before and I kid you not, it’s always turned out that God really did keep my best in mind. It’s a dad thing. A good dad knows what is truly best for the kid and how to make every situation (even the very hard ones) valuable and important.
Admittedly I had (and at moments I still have) a hard time seeing it. I thought for sure that Redding was going to be ground where a multitude of dreams and promises would be fulfulled in my life, but clearly that’s not what happened – at least not now. But here’s what I’ve been learning:

First I want to clarify that I don’t think God caused all this to happen in order to disrupt my plans and make me sad. That’s not who He is. I cannot explain such things, but this I know for sure: He has compassion for me and He has a plan. Two importants truths to remind ourselves in this time.
God is not indifferent towards our suffering, no matter how small or severe it is. Like a father, He is hurting when I am. But here is the greatness of God.. the pain is never waisted! He always finds ways to use our hardships to draw us closer to Him and to trust Him more. He is close to the broken hearted. He offers comfort and hope. We may never understand on this side of eternity why the course of our lives play out the way they do, but God is CLOSE through it all and He promised that He makes everything work together for good for those who love him. He also promised that one day  He will wipe every tear off our faces. That is my hope.

You taught me a lot, but we part ways here. God bless you, little city.
Goodbye Redding. 

And to anyone who read this far –
If you have lost hope, please know that this is for you too! He cares about your life and the most important things to Him is not that you are happy but that you are satisfied and deeply anchored in His love for you. Because then you will be truly happy! That’s what joy is. The more I learn about that, the better I can handle life as it hits and I pray in Jesus’ name that you can learn that too. Let Him take control, it’s really for the better, so don’t be afraid that He doesn’t know how to handle your life. He is much better at it than you! 

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