Today is June 1st which means we’ve officially entered the last month of my time living in North Carolina. It’s funny to think that I’m sad to leave because I really didn’t want to come here. I’d never identified so strongly with Jonah in my whole life. I married Murray in 2015 and moved down here in August. Aside from finally living in the same zip code as the guy I loved there really wasn’t anything appealing about moving halfway across the country. Everything I knew was within about a 2 hour radius of the Twin Cities. Minnesota/Wisconsin was always “home.” It’s where I’d gone to school and where all my family lived. It takes no more than an hour to see anybody since almost all my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins (who now have families of their own) all live in St. Croix, Polk or Dunn county or just across the river in Minnesota. It was a big deal to leave all of that. Murray calls my family “the tribe” since we all stick around when it comes time to buy homes for ourselves. We like each other…so what?
Moving to North Carolina was a pretty sad thing for me. There was so much change in my life so fast I basically got whiplash. Within a couple months I graduated college, got married, quit my job and moved to Fayetteville where I knew a grand total of 3 people. I even cried during the road trip here when Dad tried to get me to take a photo in front of the “Welcome to North Carolina” sign when we crossed the border. I really didn’t want to leave home. Suddenly found myself in a new city with no job and no church aka no friends. I stayed that way for almost a year. It was pretty lonely, not gonna lie. I cried more during the first 6 months of living here than I think I’d ever cried in my whole life. (I’m not a very emotional person unless it’s regarding fictional characters. Lol) I enjoyed relaxing and not having any responsibilities after going to school for 5 years while working the whole time, getting super involved in Cru and church and being my brothers’ #1 fan at all their games, but life basically came to a screeching halt when I came south of the Mason Dixon. It was definitely a huge change.
After spending a couple month-long stretches back in Wisconsin due to Murray’s training schedule during my first year away from home I finally found myself back in NC full time in September 2016 and didn’t have any plans to visit for quite a while. In mid-September Murray and I finally visited a church we actually liked. And it met at a Christian school which looked pretty awesome, so within a couple weeks I had a new church and a job all at once! Thus began my life living within the walls of Freedom Christian Academy; whether it was for Veritas stuff or work, I couldn’t seem to escape that dang building!
It’s amazing how much can change within a short period of time. I never thought I would become attached to Fayetteville or any of the people who lived here. Veritas Church was key to changing my view of where I was living. After finding this church I was surrounded by people who really chase after Jesus and are just fantastic people to be around. I’ve grown so much in my faith the past 8 or so months. I’ve made friends that I’m super sad to leave behind. They challenge me and point me to Jesus and are just really fun to hang out with. After not having many close Christian friends in college it was such a welcome change. I found myself attending bible studies and other church-y things all the time because I could fellowship with other believers while also feeding my heart and mind with bible-centered activities. The growth I’ve experienced is astounding, and Veritas and its members are 100% responsible. It’s so obvious that God is working through these people, and it’s been such a pleasure to be among them, even if just for a short time.
I’m so thankful to have made friendships without the selfish need for self-preservation getting in the way. This sounds weird, so let me explain. In an environment where there is a lot of turnover and people coming and going for short periods of time, lots of people will hold back and not get too attached to other people because they believe it’s either not “worth it” or they don’t want to have to deal with missing people when they leave. I haven’t experienced this at all. Even when I was up front about the fact that we were gonna be here for less than a year I was still welcomed to join a worship band and get involved in a community group and other things fully for as long as we’d be around. I love the fact that these people would rather have deep, shorter term interactions than a shallow friendship because they know someone isn’t sticking around. If we’re all a part of the family of God then whether we’re physically nearby or not we’re still all on the same team. And with technology, moving really isn’t the end of friendships like it used to be anyways.
With all that said, I have friends that I really wish I could take with me. I’m really excited to go back to Wisconsin and rejoin “the tribe” but I wish I could keep these friendships and this church family I’ve become so attached to. While I was reading my bible yesterday I came across the verse in 1 Corinthians where Paul says “Each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” This situation is not something I would’ve chosen for myself, but I would’ve missed out on so much growth without it! I never would’ve met so many sweet friends here and I would’ve missed out on 2 years of getting to know the North Carolina branch of Aunes too. They were super helpful it fighting homesickness since Uncle Ken is basically just a smaller version of my dad.
Like my Grandpa Aune always says, “God has a plan.” It’s a simple phrase but it holds so much truth. I was brought to North Carolina for a reason with specific people to meet and things to learn. Now I have to trust in his plan to bring us back home to Wisconsin and continue leading us and bringing new people into our lives. In the mean time I’ll just try to make the most of my last few weeks with all the friends who have become so important to me. Who would’ve thought that I’d be so sad to leave my own little Ninevah of the South?