An Anniversary of a Different Kind...

Today's a little bit of a different kind of anniversary for the handsome hubby and I. Today marks five years that we've been living in Chattanooga.  *pause for effect* That's right, it's been five. long. years.  We have spent five years living in a city that I could not have named the STATE in which it was six years ago. (It's Tennessee - for those of you who were wondering) Five years. That is a substantial portion of my life. Truth be told, I may have said at one point, "I'd rather be dead than still living here (Chattanooga) in five years!" Eeek. (Note to self: be careful what you blurt out in moments of "honesty.") But, as tempting and lovely as heaven sounds, and it does, I no longer feel exactly like that.

Thankfully in the last five years I've come kicking and screaming to a point of submission. I'm learning to recognize the wonderful things that Chattanooga has to offer. I've been given a handful of relationships that make this place feel like home. And there are moments that I'm incredibly thankful for the time we've spent here and the people we've grown into while living in this town.

All that to say, I've come a long way from this girl:


The problem is I don't feel like I have anything in common with the people that I’m meeting. I'm not exaggerating or being overly dramatic when I say that I feel like I’m on another planet. They eat differently, talk differently, dress differently, worship differently - I feel like a first year French student. I'm still thinking in English (or in my case Yankee) and having to constantly translate what is put in front of me. And quite frankly, that hurts my game - it's difficult to be quick witted when you're conjugating in your head.

Everything and everyone here is just so peculiar. I really wasn't prepared. Geographically, we're not that far from where we left. These drastic differences don't make sense to me. And not only am I not sure how to fit in, I’m beginning to wonder if I even want to.
originally published here


Sure, I still don't fit in all the time. I definitely still talk differently, I don't understand all of the traditional foods and I'm WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY over the Churchianity that seems to permeate the Christian community. But, I am picking up a few "Southern" traits. I wear a slip under my closet full of sundresses now. I tease my hair occasionally and I even like okra! Ok, so they aren't huge strides, but surely you'll admit there's some assimilation there, right? Unfortunately I still stick out like a sore thumb most days. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, "You're not from around here are you?" or the more polite version, "Where are you from originally?" I'd buy a one way ticket out of here I could quit my job. Slowly but surely though in the past five years I've begun to find my niche. I might not fit in perfectly, but I'm discovering ways to make this foreign land home. The longer I'm here the more I'm able to embrace the truth that different isn't always better or worse, sometimes it's just different.

That's why I'm recognizing this little anniversary. Five years in Chattanooga have brought a lot of changes into my life. I'm talking about heart changes that are much deeper and more gratifying than my love of okra. And though it isn't a plan that I would have made for myself, I am glad to be in a place where I can recognize that it has been a good and profitable plan for my life. And if this is where we're to live our lives for the foreseeable future, than here we are!

And I didn't even clench my teeth or shudder when I wrote that. Now that, my friends, is progress.

Has hindsight given you the perspective to recognize blessings that you never asked for or wanted?